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Iowa RN to MSN Bridge Programs

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Nursing is a career field that has plenty of room for upward growth, particularly if you're willing to further your education and expand your knowledge in specialty nursing areas. In Iowa, there's a growing need for nursing professionals at all levels and in all specialties. If you're interested in earning an MSN, you may want to attend one of the RN-to-MSN bridge programs in Iowa. These programs give you the chance to work in nursing education, leadership, advanced nursing practice, or policy formation. There may be opportunities for considerable growth in this area; the VT Digger reports on Fran Keller, an Iowa nurse who won the Breakthrough in Nursing Award.

Generally speaking, you can complete an RN-to-MSN bridge program more quickly than you can complete separate BSN and MSN programs. If you attend school full-time, plan on spending about three years in school. Part-time programs usually take about four to five years to complete. If you qualify for enrollment in an accelerated Master’s in Nursing bridge program, you might be able to graduate in as little as two years. Because of the advanced nature of these programs, you may need a high GPA from your Associate's degree in nursing. In addition, applicable experience in the nursing field may be required prior to admission.

You can plan on getting plenty of clinical experience while attending an RN-to-MSN bridge program. In an administration or education program, you may get around 400 clinical hours. However, clinical paths like nurse practitioner and nurse midwifery tend to require well over 600 clinical hours.

Prior to taking courses that are specifically related to your chosen specialty, you may take general nursing classes that aim to broaden your knowledge base. Core courses may include Foundations of Nursing Science, Leadership and Management in Nursing, and Applied Epidemiology. Courses for clinical students may include Clinical Education in the Care Environment, Mental Disorders in Advanced Practice, and Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Clinical Practice. In a leadership path, plan on taking courses like Leadership in the Health Care System, Evaluating Evidence for Practice, and Health Care Infrastructure & Policy.

Continuing your education may seem financially daunting, particularly if you already have school debt from your first degree. However, there are quite a few grants and scholarships in Iowa that can help you pay for your degree. The Iowa Nurses Association funds a number of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate scholarships. If you are interested in government scholarships, consider applying for a scholarship through the Iowa Department of Public Health. The IHCA Foundation Health Care Scholarship is awarded by the Iowa Health Care Association.

Throughout the course of your advanced degree, you will want to ensure that you keep your registered nursing license valid. The Iowa Board of Nursing maintains licensure standards and applications for registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses. You may need an advanced license if you plan on working as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist.

Though the job outlook is generally positive for nursing professionals in Iowa, some jobs are in higher demand than others. From 2012 to 2022, O*Net anticipates a 13 percent increase in job openings for nurse anesthetists in Iowa. Job openings for nurse instructors are expected to increase by 35 percent in this same time frame (O*Net, 2012).

You may find that nursing salaries in Iowa are slightly lower than the national average, perhaps due to a lower cost of living in the Midwest. O*Net claims that nursing instructors in this area earn an average of $60,500 per year. Nurse anesthetists bring in an average salary of $153,800 each year (O*Net, 2013).

The Master's of Science in Nursing is a versatile and powerful degree that can do wonderful things for your career prospects. It may also give you the freedom to become an influential figure in the Iowa nursing community. Contact RN-to-MSN schools in Iowa to get more information about program details.