As health care standards rise across the country, nurses are finding themselves in higher demand than ever before. With your RN degree, you've likely gained experience in a wide variety of settings and specialties. This experience may have given you the chance to explore different nursing careers and decide what your long-term goals are. As Virginia tries to move toward a global curriculum of nursing, those with Master's degrees will come to play a prominent role in Virginia nursing care. Look into RN-to-MSN programs in Virginia to see if they're a good fit for you!
An MSN can take your career to the next level in many different ways. However, this can be a fairly specific degree, so it's important to choose the right specialty for your career goals. Popular specialties in Virginia include nurse practitioner, nurse education, and nursing leadership. There may be many more options at your school of choice, so take some time exploring your options!
After you complete your Bachelor-level nursing courses, you can begin the Master's degree part of your training. The early part of your curriculum gives you experience in many different areas. You may take courses like Advanced Health Assessment, Advanced Clinical Pharmacotherapeutics, Care Delivery and Coordination, and Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Practice Nursing.
If you opt to go into a clinical specialty, you may take courses that focus specifically on the care of different populations. In a nurse practitioner specialty, for example, you may take classes like Family Centered Care Delivery, Coordinated Care of the Elderly, and Epidemiology & Population Assessment. In nurse midwifery, you may take courses similar to Nursing Care of Childbearing Women and Evidence-Based Care in Labor & Delivery.
Even in non-clinical specialties, clinical hours are important. Clinical specialties may require more than 600 hours of practicum, while administrative or educational study paths may have more relaxed requirements.
Earning an advanced degree can be expensive, which is why it's extremely important to look into your financial aid options once you have chosen a school and a degree program! Virginia has many financial aid providers, including private employers, government agencies, and nursing associations. The Virginia Department of Health provides several state-funded scholarships, particularly for nurse midwifery and nurse practitioner students. The Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority funds scholarships through the Affordable Care Act. They also have a loan repayment program for Virginia graduates that commit to working in Virginia for a set period of time. If you are willing to work at the Virginia Hospital Center after graduation, you may be eligible for a $5,000 annual scholarship.
Through your education and throughout the course of your career, you'll need to maintain your registered nursing license through the Virginia Board of Nursing. In addition to this, you may need an advanced practice license if you are working as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. As you complete your degree, you'll prepare for the testing process via review programs.
The job outlook for advanced nurses in Virginia rivals that of other states in the area. O*Net anticipates slightly slower than average job growth for nursing managers. They report an expected 21 percent increase in job openings between 2012 and 2022 (O*Net, 2012). In this time period, O*Net predicts a 42 percent increase in job openings for nursing instructors.
Within this field, salaries and income ranges vary widely. Per O*Net, the average salary for a Virginia nursing instructor is $62,300 per year. On the other end of the scale, nurse anesthetists in this state earn a median income of $157,000 per year (O*Net, 2013). Average salaries for other nursing professions fall in between these two averages.
Though it can be a three-year commitment to earn an MSN, the work is often well worth it! Beyond simply increasing your earning potential and expanding your career options, dedicating yourself to an advanced degree can help you contribute more to the nursing field in Virginia. Whether you contribute via research, practice, education, or leadership, your MSN can make you an advocate for nurses throughout the state.