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Careers With a Masters of Science in Nursing
If you graduate with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), you’ll be qualified to work as an Advanced Practice Nurse, or APN. At this level, you can work as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse anesthetist or certified nurse midwife. There are also non-clinical jobs available for nurses who get a master’s degree in their field.
Nurse practitioners work closely with patients, much like registered nurses do, but at a more advanced level. You’ll still help with general nursing tasks such as checking vital signs, taking patient history, maintaining records, preparing patients for surgery and administering medications. However, you’ll also diagnose and treat patients, often without a doctor’s help. As a nurse practitioner, you’ll specialize in one area of medicine like mental health or acute care or other fields your education prepared you for. The average salary for a nurse practitioner in 2008 was $84,250, which doesn’t include bonuses and benefits packages.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nurse specialist works in the same role as a nurse practitioner when working directly with patients. However, as a clinical nurse specialist, you’ll be prepared to take on additional roles as an educator, researcher, consultant and administrator in a health care setting. While a nurse practitioner focuses specifically on treating the patient one-on-one, the clinical nurse specialist is involved in all aspects of patient care. You can expect to make $62,510 to $82,305 as a clinical nurse specialist according to 2008-2009 salary statistics.
Certified Nurse Anesthetist
If you worked in acute care as a registered nurse, with your master’s degree you’ll qualify to become a certified nurse anesthetist. In this role, you’ll work with patients to prepare them for surgery, administer anesthesia and help them in recovery. You’ll also be trained to know what to do in case the patient has an allergic reaction to the anesthesia or there is another problem during surgery. Certified nurse anesthetists made an average of $168,500 in 2008.
Certified Nurse Midwife
If you love working with expectant mothers and newborns, you may want to consider becoming a certified nurse midwife. In this role you’ll treat pregnant women and help deliver babies as well as provide postpartum care. Your education will prepare you to work in a variety of settings, as many mothers are moving toward wanting births at home or in special non-hospital facilities. Part of your job will be to recognize when the baby or mother is in distress and the birth needs to be moved to a hospital. You’ll also learn basic OB-GYN care and administration skills. Starting salary for a certified nurse midwife is $35,000 to $60,000, as of 2008, and after a few years of experience, you can expect to make $70,000 or more.
Non-Clinical MSN Careers
Not all nurses with MSN degrees work in a clinical setting practicing medicine. As a health care administrator you’ll deal with strategic planning, budgeting, health care policy, informatics, quality control and other issues relating to the operations of a medical facility. You can also work as a nurse administrator, where you’ll do many of the same tasks but on a smaller scale, working with teams of nurses. Case management is also a career choice for those interested in working one-on-one with patients and specialized education is an option for those who enjoy teaching other nurses, helping patients learn about their conditions or spreading knowledge to the general public.