Education is a huge priority in New England, which may be part of the reason you're considering furthering your nursing education. As a registered nurse, you have likely seen the important role that nurses play in health care organizations all over the state. Completing an RN-to-MSN program and becoming a graduate-level nurse can give you the freedom to conduct nursing research, assist women through childbirth, provide anesthetic services, teach student nurses, and more.
RN-to-MSN programs in New Jersey are fairly rigorous, so you should plan on attending class full-time to complete your degree. Some degree programs do allow you to complete your coursework online, giving you more flexibility in your work schedule. The entire program requires about 90 credits of BSN and MSN courses.
Part of becoming a graduate-level nurse is choosing which specialty best suits your long-term goals. If you like working with patients and want to explore your options in that area, you may want to become a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist. Nurse education is another career path that allows you to teach undergraduate nursing students. In the administrative field, you may wish to go into nurse administration, nursing research, or nurse leadership.
Regardless of the career path you choose, you may need to take the same core courses as other MSN students in New Jersey. These courses include Nursing Leadership in a Global Community, Health Policy, Evidence-Based Practice, and Nursing Informatics. You may take courses to help you become more skilled in advanced patient care, like Advanced Health Assessment and Advanced Pharmacology. If you choose nursing education, it's likely that your curriculum will include classes like Curriculum Theory and Instructional Strategies in Nursing Education.
Practicum and clinical hours are a crucial aspect of your graduate-level nursing education. Those who go into a clinical specialty may spend their time in different practice settings, while those who choose administrative routes may explore other health care settings.
One of the benefits of continuing your education in New Jersey is the wide amount of scholarship and grant funds set up for advanced nursing students. By applying early and often for scholarships, you can give yourself the best possible chance of success. The New Jersey League for Nursing awards more than $11,000 in nursing scholarships each year. Through the New Jersey State Nurses Association, you can apply for the Institute for Nursing Scholarship or the Valerie E. Yahn Scholarship. The New Jersey Nursing Initiative has a Nurse Scholars program that rewards those who work hard to advance the field of nursing.
Since you already work as a registered nurse, you may know a little bit about the licensing process in New Jersey. You will need to provide your transcripts and proof of your graduation to the New Jersey Board of Nursing. They will allow you to submit your application and take your advanced practice licensing exam, at which point you can receive the right to practice at an advanced level.
Though job growth rates do vary between advanced nursing careers, job growth rates in New Jersey tend to be on par with national reports. In this field, nurse managers may see slower career growth. O*Net expects to see a 17 percent increase in job openings from 2012 to 2022. The fastest growing job in this state is nurse education. Through 2022, O*Net anticipates a 28 percent increase in jobs for nurse educators.
Due to the cost of living in New Jersey, salaries in this state are often significantly higher than the national average. Nursing instructors in this state claim a median salary of $82,000 per year (O*Net, 2013). The highest salaries in this state go to medical managers, who earn an average of $106,900 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Though completing an RN-to-MSN program does require considerable time and work, it can be well worth the effort. As you improve your own career prospects and contribute to health care, you can use your education to better the lives of patients all over New Jersey.