As the field of health care goes through tremendous changes, both across the country and specifically in Pennsylvania, patients continue to rely on the care provided by highly-educated health care professionals. Nurses, as the largest segment of healthcare providers, can provide much of this care. If you're interested in advancing both the health of your state’s residents along with your nursing career, you may be a good candidate for a Master's degree in nursing. You can find all of the MSN programs in Pennsylvania here, as well as request information directly from schools.
Since different MSN programs lead to different careers, the curriculum for each program tends to be highly specialized. For example, a nursing administration track may require you to take courses like Health Policy, Financial Management in Health Care, and Advanced Professional Role Development. This path tends to focus less on clinical work than many other MSN programs.
Nursing education is a track that prepares you to teach nursing courses at the Bachelor's degree or Associate's degree level. This can be quite the task, which is why your curriculum may include courses like Teaching Strategies for Nursing Instructors, Program Development in Nursing Education, and Evaluation in Nursing Education. This path also includes a practicum course.
If you plan on going into advanced patient care, you may take many more clinical courses than your peers in administration or education. In addition to core courses like Health Promotion and Health Policy, you may take patient-centered courses like Primary Care for Adults.
Pennsylvania is home to a number of organizations and companies that give scholarships to advanced nursing students. For example, the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania awards two different scholarships. The Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania is another local group that gives scholarships to nursing leadership and education students.
If you're interested in going into nursing education, you may be able to look forward to a promising job outlook. According to the Pennsylvania Workforce Development, the demand for nursing instructors is growing faster than educational institutions can fill their openings. This is due in part to the growing need for registered nurses; nursing educators are a key part of fixing this shortage.
Advanced practice nurses in Pennsylvania are in high demand. Many advocates within the state, including the Pennsylvania Action Coalition, are attempting to increase the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and other advanced practice nurses. Recent research indicates that nurse practitioners have health outcomes that are comparable to doctors' outcomes. Currently, advanced practice nurses in the state must be supervised by a physician. This may change in coming years, especially with continued efforts from organizations dedicated to advancing the profession.
The primary care physician shortage in Pennsylvania is continuing to grow, which is another reason that nurse practitioners may have more freedom to practice in coming years. Seven parts of Pennsylvania are Federally Designated Underserved Areas.
A master's degree in nursing is the minimum degree required if you want to become a nurse practitioner. As of May 2014, nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania earned an average salary of $88,480 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse practitioners perform many of the same functions as doctors, from conducting physical exams to diagnosing acute illnesses. Because the demand for primary health care is expected to increase between 2014 and 2019, there may be an increased demand for nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania.
If you complete a master's degree in nursing, you may also qualify to work as a nurse anesthetist, or a nurse who administers anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical procedures. As of May 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average salary of $172,890 per year for nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania. Due to a nationwide shortage of nurse anesthetists, obtaining a master's degree may help you advance from a bedside nursing position to a nurse anesthesia position.
Before you can pursue either of these career opportunities, you must meet the minimum qualifications. If you don't yet have a Master’s degree in nursing, contact one of the schools on this page to learn more about the programs available in your area.