Many people consider nurses to be the backbone of the health care industry. As such, we are called upon to maintain the highest levels of education possible, in order to maintain our ethical responsibility to provide the care our patients deserve. You can do this, and simultaneously take your nursing career one step further with a Master's in Nursing. This degree builds upon your knowledge of patient care and nursing theory to shape you as a leader in your field. There are several MSN programs in Iowa, as well as specialized graduate level programs for nurses.
Depending on which school you attend, you should plan on a two or three year commitment to earn your MSN in Iowa. You may have to spend more time in school if you do not already have a Bachelor's in Nursing. Thanks to bridge programs located throughout Iowa, you can attend school for about four years and go directly from an Associate's in Nursing or Bachelor's degree to a Master's in Nursing. Some RN to MSN programs are meant to be completed on a part-time basis, while other programs can be completed on a full-time schedule, or online.
Courses vary significantly between nursing specialties. If you pursue the clinical nurse leader path, you may take courses like Leadership and Management Essentials, Evaluating Evidence for Practice, and Health Care Policy. This path also requires a clinical component in which you manage other nurses. The nurse educator path contains courses like Teaching and Evaluating in Colleges of Nursing, Theoretical Foundations in Higher Education, and Curriculum & Instruction. Direct care specialties include courses like Advanced Pharmacology, Evidence Based Practice, and Advanced Health Assessment.
As a graduate-level nursing student, you can take advantage of a variety of nursing scholarships. In addition to school scholarships and nationally-offered scholarships, there are many scholarships awarded by Iowa organizations. The Iowa Nurses Foundation awards the Iowa Nurses Foundation Scholarship and the 100 Great Nurses Scholarship. You can also apply for several different scholarships through the Iowa Department of Public Health. The Health Care Education Scholarship, worth $1,000, is funded by the Iowa Health Care Association.
If you enjoy the patient care aspect of your job, you may interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or advanced nurse specialist. Advanced practice nurses in Iowa enjoy full practice rights. This means that, as an advanced practice nurse, you do not need the oversight or supervision of a physician to carry out your job duties. Iowa has many primary care shortage areas, and as a Master's-level nurse, you can address the needs in those areas.
The nursing shortage in Iowa has also increased the need for skilled nurse educators, according to the Des Moines Register. A significant number of nurses in Iowa are near retirement age, creating a demand for nurse educators that can provide high-quality education and help prepare new nurses to fill those absences left by retiring nurses.
The patient education and individual care that nurses offer play a large part in patient satisfaction. The Sioux City Journal notes that the Orange City Area Health System recently received a national award for patient satisfaction. When you become an advanced practice nurse, nurse leader, nurse research specialist, or nurse educator, you can improve the state of health care quality in Iowa by furthering the care that results in this type of recognition.
According to the Des Moines Register, state leaders are concerned about the impending nurse shortage, and the Nurse Residency Task Force of the Iowa Action Coalition is working on a project aimed at increasing the education of nurses. As a result the masters level nurse practitioner program is seeing the most growth at the graduate level.
Becoming an Adult Psychiatric–Mental Health Nurse Practitioner is one of your choices in the RN–MSN programs. There is a need for psychiatric–mental health nurses who have the skill to provide comprehensive care to clients who are in need of psychiatric services, and those who are at risk for mental illness. Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses in Iowa earned a median annual wage of $66,640 (O*net, 2014).
Another option is an advanced practice nurse in Diabetes Nursing. A diabetic educator may be employed by hospitals, doctors’ offices, home health or wellness programs. Assessing an individual's specific educational needs and identifying their self-management goals is one aspect of this position. The American Association of Diabetics Educators offers a certification for this career. Iowa health educators annual income was $50,430 (O*net, 2014).
Returning to graduate school, particularly through online courses works very well for the working nurse. You may position yourself in a roll to expand your career and income. Contact schools below to learn more about your options.