In the state of Connecticut, if you are currently working as a registered nurse, you're likely already doing your part to address the ongoing shortage of nurses as it relates to healthcare in CT. However, if you want to advance your education and play a larger role in the advancement of Connecticut health care, you may be able to reach your career goals while advancing the nursing shortage by earning your Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
An MSN is a graduate-level nursing degree that focuses on advanced clinical care, nursing scholarship and research, and the development of health care policy that is in line with patient needs. Since those with MSN degrees have so much responsibility in the workplace, many schools have stringent admissions requirements. Most schools require at least one year of full-time nursing experience, so you may not be able to move directly from a BSN to an MSN without working for a while first. Connecticut schools also have tough academic requirements; you may need a 3.0 or higher GPA from your BSN program to be accepted.
You may want to consider your long-term career goals before enrolling in an MSN program, since many schools require you to select a specialty before you start. A popular choice is nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners offer many essential primary care services, so this may be an option for you if you want to work independently. Nurse practitioner courses include Advanced Nursing Care of Families, Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Health Assessment, and Primary Care Practicum. In your clinical hours, you may work in specialties like pediatrics, radiology, obstetrics, and oncology.
Nurse leadership is another popular choice in Connecticut; students may take courses like Health Care Informatics for Nursing Practice, Roles of the Clinical Nurse Leader, and Legal Issues in Health Care. A field like nursing education may require classes like Curriculum Development in Nursing and Teaching Methods in Nurse Instruction.
As Connecticut institutions attempt to meet the growing need for nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and other advanced nursing professionals, many organizations may offer scholarships to entice nursing professionals back to school. Look into Connecticut-based grants like the New Beginnings Nursing Master's Scholarship and the Dr. Joseph B. Cherry Memorial Nursing Scholarship. The Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association funds scholarships in memory of Frances Tompkins. Each year, the Connecticut Nurses' Foundation awards over $13,000 in scholarships to nursing students.
When you look at the job outlook for advanced practice nurses in Connecticut, you realize quickly that the state is in great need of nurses in different specialties. Job growth rates are typically on par with national averages, although in some fields, Connecticut job growth rates can be higher. Job growth is expected to occur at a slightly slower rate for health services managers, for whom O*Net anticipates a job growth rate of 19% between 2012 and 2022. The highest job growth rate belongs to nursing instructors; O*Net expects job openings to grow by 34 percent through 2022.
O*Net reports that the average annual salary for a nurse instructor is $74,300. On the other end of the scale, you have nurse anesthetists, who earn an average of $168,600 per year (O*Net, 2013). Salaries for other nursing professionals, like nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, fall within the limits of this scale.
The Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing is responsible for advanced nursing licensure. They do require you to maintain an RN license before you apply for advanced practice licensure. You must also pass exams directly related to your field of expertise.
Whether you're interested in research, advanced patient care, leadership, or education, now may be the right time to get an MSN in Connecticut. The CT Post reports that the state's shortage of nurse practitioners is so severe that a local school received a federal grant for its NP program. Advanced education can improve any field, and that's particularly true in nursing, where higher education can lead to better outcomes for patients.