Your nursing career in West Virginia has likely given you the opportunity to help hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Rural communities in this state heavily rely on nursing professionals that can provide patient-centered, evidence-based care. With your experience and prior nursing education, you may be a good fit for an RN-to-MSN bridge program in West Virginia. As an MSN student, you can take your nursing education a step further and study an advanced nursing field like nursing practice, nursing research, or nursing education. You can have an even bigger impact on the people of West Virginia with this degree!
Prior to applying for nursing programs in West Virginia, you will want to make sure that you meet their admissions requirements. Since you may need to keep up with an accelerated program, you will likely need a high GPA in your associate's degree to qualify for acceptance to an RN-to-MSN program. Work experience is another core part of a school's admissions requirements; most schools require one to two years of full-time work experience.
Some of the courses you'll take as an MSN student focus on the theory behind nursing. Courses you may take in this field include Research and Systematic Analysis, Health Policy & Finance, and Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics. These courses can help you explore some of the broader issues in health care that you'll be expected to discuss as a nursing professional.
Other classes are centered around practical experience and clinical work. Some of the courses that are based in clinical experience include Lifespan Health Promotion, Advanced Pathophysiology, Concepts of Advanced Nursing, and Advanced Assessment. These courses count toward your clinical requirements. Many programs in West Virginia require 500 to 1,000 clinical hours. If you work as a nurse while earning your MSN, you may be able to complete your clinical hours at your place of employment.
One of the many benefits of working in a state like West Virginia is the nursing shortage. This shortage has led to an increase in nursing scholarships and grants for qualified students. Typically, you can begin applying for scholarships once you have been accepted to an MSN program. The West Virginia Center for Nursing has an MSN and Doctoral Scholarship program for MSN students. The award is worth up to $15,000 and you must agree to work in West Virginia for two years after graduation. The West Virginia Health Care Association offers multiple $750 scholarships to nursing and other health care students each year. On occasion, they award scholarships that are worth $1,500.
As you work toward your MSN, you may want to become familiar with licensing standards in West Virginia. These are laid out by the West Virginia RN Board, which also maintains information on the scope of practice of different nursing professionals. Only certain jobs are required to get advanced nursing licenses: nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. Since most other careers are administrative or educational in nature, you just have to keep your RN license.
Salaries in West Virginia tend to be slightly lower than the national average and they differ between careers. Per O*Net, nursing instructors in this state earn an average of $54,500 per year. The average salary for a medical manager is $75,400 per year (O*Net, 2013). Nurse practitioners earn an average salary of $83,200 per year, and nurse anesthetists have a median income of $164,600 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Nursing in West Virginia means dedicating yourself to people that may have limited access to health care and improving their health through practice, research, leadership, and education. No matter where your nursing interests lie, earning an MSN can put you in the perfect position to make a difference in West Virginia health care.