With your BSN, you likely have lots of responsibility and enjoy working as a leader in your health care facility. If you're ready to take your nursing career to the next level and delve into a specialty area of nursing, an MSN can help you deepen your knowledge and build on your nursing skills to make a greater impact on both your patients and your profession.
An MSN is typically a 30-45 credit graduate degree that takes two to three years to complete. If you decide to attend school part-time, which may be a necessity if you plan on working full-time, your degree may take closer to four years. There are some core courses that are required, including Advanced Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, Theories and Roles of Advanced Nursing, Research Methods in Nursing, and Health Care Economics.
While a BSN or ADN program may focus heavily on practical nursing skills and direct nursing care, it's clear that an Master’s in Nursing has a more significant focus on theory, advanced practice skills, and overarching themes in the health care system. Beyond that, the subjects you study are dependent on your choice of concentration.
Concentrations that may be available at your California nursing school include family/gerontological/pediatric nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nurse leadership, and nurse education. Those who decide to advance their clinical careers may spend more time in the nursing field, getting clinical experience. Selecting another specialty like nursing education or nurse administration may reduce your clinical workload through your Master’s program.
Once you get accepted to one of the traditional MSN programs in California, you can start applying for financial aid. Your school will likely help you apply for different types of federal aid, including federal loans and grants. However, there are also many private aid sources to consider. The Kaiser Permanente Deloras Jones Nursing Scholarship is available to nursing students at any level of education. Several schools have institution-specific scholarships. For example, you may be able to apply for scholarships like the Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, the Nonresident Tuition Fellowship, and the University Fellowship. The NURSE Corps Scholarship Program is a federal program that allocates scholarship funds to students who agree to work in a high-need area after graduation.
Just like with any nursing profession, you'll need to make sure that you meet the licensing requirements of the California Board of Registered Nursing before you begin working as a Master’s prepared nurse, regardless of your specialty. Per the Board of Registered Nursing, there are several advanced practice certifications. Before you can apply for any of these certifications, you must have a valid registered nursing license. Careers that require advanced licensure include Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Anesthetist, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Mental Health Nurse, and Public Health Nurse.
Though anticipated job growth rates vary between careers, the general outlook for California graduate prepared nurses is positive. On the low end of the growth scale, there are medical managers. O*Net anticipates a 22% increase in job openings between 2012 and 2022, leading to almost 1,300 new jobs per year in California. They expect job openings to increase fastest for nurse instructors, for whom they expect a 36 percent increase in job openings (O*Net, 2012).
Salaries also differ significantly in the field of direct care nursing. Generally speaking, salaries in California are higher than the national average. Nurse instructors in this state earn an average of $85,100 per year (O*Net, 2013). The average annual salary for nurse anesthetists is $167,200 per year (O*Net, 2013).
It's clear that an MSN can have a positive effect on your career, but it can also influence the whole field of nursing. Specializing in direct care, research, administration, or education can help you create higher care standards in California, leading to improvements in health. You can find a full listing of all the schools in California that offer MSN programs on our site, and we suggest you contact those you are interested to get more information.