The field of nursing is going through a period of dramatic change and growth, thanks to recent health care reform on a nationwide and statewide level. As a result, nurses and health care professionals with a higher level of education may enjoy a range of career options in South Carolina. Whether you currently have an associate's degree in nursing, a bachelor's degree in nursing, or an unrelated bachelor's degree, an MSN may be the next step for you.
One benefit of continuing your education is the possibility of a higher income. The average salary for a South Carolina nurse practitioner is $85,100 per year. Nurse anesthetists earn an average salary of $152,200 per year and nurse educators earn an average salary of $67,500 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Nursing education is an up-and-coming career in South Carolina. Recent changes in South Carolina hospitals have led to a demand for Bachelor's-level nurses, sending many nurses back to school in search of a four-year degree. Nurse educators are relied upon to educate nurses at all levels and help meet hospital requirements. In addition, SCWorks notes that registered nurses are expected to be in high demand through 2020. Since many Associate's degree programs have waitlists, an increase in the amount of nurse educators may help schools accept more nursing students.
While nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses currently have a limited scope of practice in South Carolina, groups like the South Carolina Action Coalition hope to change these laws. The State notes that South Carolina ranks 38th in the country in terms of primary care availability, with almost all of its counties designated as Health Care Shortage Areas. Nurse practitioners may be able to help fill this gap and bring affordable health care to South Carolina's rural residents.
While each MSN program has its own curriculum and learning goals, most Master's-level programs have similar learning objectives. Your instructors may expect you to integrate nursing knowledge and research from a variety of sources, display working competence in your specific chosen role, and develop leadership skills in different health care facilities.
South Carolina MSN programs tend to be fairly flexible in their scheduling. Many schools allow you to attend part-time or full-time, so you can make your classes work around your current nursing job. If you have a Bachelor's degree in nursing, you may be able to graduate in two to three years. However, there are also RN-to-MSN programs in South Carolina that allow you to bridge from an Associate's degree in nursing to an MSN in about four years.
As the field of nursing tries to keep up with the demand for graduate-level nurses, you may be able to find scholarships that are aimed at Master's degree students. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control awards scholarships to nursing students. You can also apply for the Bobbi Rossi Memorial Scholarship through the South Carolina Higher Education Foundation. The South Carolina Nurses Foundation awards multiple scholarships, including the Virginia C. Phillips Scholarship and the Renatta S. Loquist Scholarship for Graduate Nursing Education.