Though all career fields are important, it's possible that nursing is one of the most crucial healthcare careers in the United States. Nurses are responsible for educating patients, helping them understand a doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan, providing timely and appropriate care, and ensuring that they have a pleasant health care experience. This is even more true in a state like West Virginia, where residents of rural areas may not have the same access to health care that urbanites do. Want to become a major figure in the West Virginia nursing community? Look into MSN programs in your city.
The West Virginia Action Coalition is one of the largest nursing organizations in the state. Many of their initiatives and long-term goals may give graduate-level nurses a more positive work environment. They note the importance of bringing in more nurse educators, since one goal is to significantly increase the amount of West Virginia nurses with BSNs. Furthermore, they want to increase the freedom of practice enjoyed by nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and other clinical nurse specialists. Earning an MSN in West Virginia may put you in a position to affect change throughout the state.
If you want to improve the state of rural health in West Virginia, earning a Master’s degree in Nursing can give you the skills and authority to do so. The West Virginia Rural Health Association hopes to better rural health care by offering ongoing education, legislative updates, and conference opportunities to nursing professionals.
Becoming an advanced practice nurse can make a big difference in health care access in this state. NPR notes that West Virginia has a very low amount of doctors per 100,000 residents, which may restrict care across the state. Becoming a nurse practitioner can give you the chance to take on some of the same job responsibilities and services as medical doctors.
Moving from a BSN to a Master’s program in nursing in West Virginia is a major step in most nursing careers, which is why most MSN programs in West Virginia have such stringent entrance requirements for students. You may need to have earned a high GPA in your BSN program or have completed extracurricular courses that are related to your specialty of choice. It's also likely that you'll need nursing experience. Most graduate nursing programs require one to two years of full-time nursing experience.
When you get accepted to a Master's degree program, you may have to choose a nursing specialty. There are clinical specialties, like nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse practitioner. There are also more administrative tracks, like nursing leadership, nursing research, and nurse education. Clinical programs tend to take slightly longer than administrative programs, so keep this in mind as you choose a nursing path.
The core of your program may give you a look at different aspects of graduate-level nursing and the roles played by MSN graduates. Core courses that may be required in West Virginia graduate nursing programs include Nursing Theories, Health Care Policy and Politics, and Advanced Health Assessment. Though some of these courses have clinical requirements, they are largely based in theory and can sometimes be completed online.
Other course requirements vary between specialties. Nursing administration students may take courses like Organizational Behavior, Financial Management, and Nursing Leadership. Nurse education students can take classes like Nursing Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Technology, and Nursing Evaluation.
Once you've decided on a path and been accepted to an MSN program, you can start applying for scholarships and earning funds for your education. The West Virginia Department of Education awards several nursing-specific scholarships to public school students. At the West Virginia Center for Nursing, you can apply for scholarships through the MSN and Doctoral Scholarship Program.
You must pursue the proper nursing license after earning your MSN. The West Virginia RN Board licenses nursing professionals throughout the state. At all times, your RN license must be current and in good standing. If you are in a clinical specialty, you must also maintain an advanced practice license.
Salaries in West Virginia differ between nursing specialties. Nursing instructors tend to earn salaries on the lower end of the scale, averaging $54,500 per year (O*Net, 2013). O*Net notes that nurse managers earn an average salary of $75,400 per year. The average salary for a nurse anesthetist is $164,600 per year (O*Net, 2013).