One of the major appeals of the nursing field is the versatility of the career choices in this profession. If you like to spend your time reading and working in the lab, you can look into a career in nursing research. If you like patient care, you can choose a clinical specialty. If you'd rather work with new or aspiring nurses, you may choose a career in administration or nursing education. As an RN in Arizona, you already have the basic skills and knowledge you need to pursue an advanced career in nursing. All you need to do is look into RN-to-MSN bridge programs to flesh out your education and propel you into the next stage of your career.
RN-to-MSN bridge programs in Arizona are intended for students who have Associate's degrees in nursing and who have gained some experience in the nursing field. Since this can be a fairly accelerated degree program, you need to have proven yourself academically at the Associate's degree level. The college may also look at your work history and work references. Many schools require at least one year of full-time nursing experience.
At the start of your RN-to-MSN program, you may take general nursing courses that are required of all advanced nursing students. This includes courses like Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan, Health Assessment, and Nursing Concepts & Competencies Across the Lifespan. You may also get extensive knowledge in subjects like pharmacology, nursing research, and evidence-based practice.
Many of the courses you take are specifically relevant to your chosen specialty, so it's important to choose a specialty that you're truly interested in. Nursing administration students may take courses like Nursing Informatics: From Concepts to Practice, Leading and Managing in Organizational Systems, and Management & Leadership in Nursing. Those in direct care often take courses like Altered Health Conditions, Complex Health Conditions, and Community Health Nursing.
One consideration you should keep in mind as you choose your nursing school is financial aid. A Master's degree can be a bit pricey, but nursing scholarships can offset your costs and minimize the amount you take out in student loans. The Arizona Nurses Foundation collects donations from all over the state and funds nursing degrees for advanced students. On a national level, look into the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program. This program awards scholarships and offers loan repayment options to students that are willing to work in a medically underserved area after graduation. If you plan on becoming a nurse practitioner, consider scholarships offered through the Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council.
All licensing in Arizona goes through the Arizona Board of Nursing. At minimum, you must have an RN license to work in any nursing capacity. If you work in a clinical setting as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist, you also need to have an advanced practice license. You may receive your license after passing required exams in your field.
In general, the job outlook for nursing professionals in Arizona is much better than it is across the country. Per O*Net, the slowest growing job in Arizona is nurse management. From 2012 to 2022, they anticipate a 28 percent increase in job openings (O*Net, 2012). In comparison, job openings for nursing instructors are expected to increase by 42 percent in this time frame (O*Net, 2012).
Salaries in Arizona tend to be fairly close to nationally-reported nursing salaries. Nursing instructors in Arizona earn an average salary of $69,600 per year (O*Net, 2013). Nurse anesthetists can earn considerably more, with an average annual salary of $167,100 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Nursing is a field in which your hard work and education can truly make a difference. A master's degree in nursing in AZ can set you up to be a leader in your field while simultaneously helping you contribute to excellence in the health care arena.