Guide to MSN Nurse Practitioner Degree

By becoming a registered nurse, you will have many excellent opportunities for a rewarding career. The healthcare field overall is expanding very quickly, with many new job opportunities opening up on the coming years. Generally, healthcare occupations will increase by 19% by 2024.

One of the best ways to take advantage of many new healthcare work opportunities is to earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) so you can become a nurse practitioner (NP). Becoming an NP is a sure way to work with more responsibility, a higher salary, and greater respect in the nursing field.

Nurse Practitioner – High Demand and Responsibility

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has higher responsibilities than those of a traditional RN. An NP serves as both a primary and secondary health care provider. She delivers advanced nursing care services to patients and families.

NPs perform many of the same roles as doctors, but at a lower price point. They assess patients, determine how to best manage or improve the health of the patient, and talk with patients about ways to integrate better health promotion strategies into the life of the patient. Many NPs work with certain sectors of the population; some will earn special certifications to work with geriatric, pediatric or mental health patients, for example.

In most state, NPs work under the supervision of a physician. However, some states will allow NPs to work on their own.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing – Nurse Practitioner?

The US population is growing older, living longer, and demanding more health care services. At the same time, the cost of healthcare is rising. There is growing pressure on healthcare companies, insurance companies, and employers to reduce healthcare costs an increase profits.

One of the ways this can be done is to use nurse practitioners to do most of the work that was once done exclusively by physicians. These various factors mean that there is a huge demand increase in the next decade for NPs. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the demand for NPs will soar by 35% by 2024.

This means that there will be an increase of nearly 45,000 NP jobs by 2024. With this type of demand, a nurse with a MSN degree as a nurse practitioner will have her pick of jobs, with excellent pay. Most NPs also report that with their advanced degree and advanced training comes a higher degree of respect and credibility than regular nurses receive. This is just as important to many NPs as any increase in salary or responsibility.

Featured Online Nurse Practitioner Programs


Admission Requirements

The competition to enter a strong MSN program is intense, and you will need to meet rigorous standards of admission. For example, Duke University has the following standards to be considered:

  • BSN degree from an accredited university
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Statistics courses required
  • GRE exam scores; this can be waived if you have a 3.4 GPA or higher
  • Must be a current RN
  • Must have at least one year of nursing experience
  • Transcripts
  • Updated resume

Curriculum and Courses

Chamberlain University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track that will prepare you to work as an advanced nursing practice professional. This program can be completed entirely online. The FNP curriculum has both theory and practical application that is done through extensive online discussions, live simulations, and clinical residencies in your home area.

After graduation, you will be ready to sit for your national certification as a family nurse practitioner.

Required core classes include:

  • Population Health, Epidemiology and Statistical Principles
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Advanced Physical Assessment
  • Leadership and Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse

Another key part of your program at Chamberlain is your various nurse practicums. These are courses where you must apply your skills and knowledge in the real world. These courses require you to complete 125 practicum hours each, which has to be completed in seven weeks, or roughly 18 hours per week.

You need to select an appropriate clinical site and supervisor. Chamberlain will work with you to help you to find a suitable site. You will need to work closely with both your Chamberlain academic supervisor and and your site supervisor to ensure that all practicum requirements are completed. Your practicum courses are as follows:

  • Differential Diagnosis and Primary Care
  • Primary Care of the Maturing and Aged Family
  • Primary Care of the Childbearing and Childrearing Family Practicum
  • Advanced Clinical Diagnosis and Practice Across the Lifespan

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

With a master’s degree in nursing with a speciality as nurse practitioner, the most common job title will be nurse practitioner. However, some nurses may also work in these roles:

  • Care manager or coordinator
  • Care manager
  • Nurse educator
  • Nursing director
  • Health care administrator
  • Case manager

Job and Salary Outlook

As an advanced practice nurse and nurse practitioner, you will enjoy strong career demand and salaries in these roles:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner — Job demand will increase by 35% in the next several years. It is thought that the increased access to health insurance is going to greatly increase the number of patients that NPs see. This professional will be needed to provide primary and preventive care; they also will be needed to provide care for aging baby boomers. The median salary in this field is $98,000.
  • Registered Nurse — Some workers with their NP degree may continue to work sometimes as a regular nurse. The regular RN field also is seeing strong demand with 16% increase in jobs expected by 2024. The median wage for RNs is $67,000 per year.
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner — Because the US population is growing older, this is a popular speciality for NPs. Older patients have their unique health problems and need more specialized care. If you prefer to work with older patients, this could be a good fit. Job demand in this specialty will grow by at least 35% as well, and the median salary is $95,000 per year.

Scholarships and Grants

For aspiring NPs, you may want help to fund your education. Check out these funding options:

  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners: This leading NP organization offers several AANP grants each year to graduate students in nursing. Each applicant can receive as much as $2500. This association also has various other educational scholarships available each year.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration: This division of the Department of Health and Human Services has the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program. You can receive funding for a large part of your nursing tuition if you agree to work in a Critical Shortage Facility after you graduate.

Additional Resources

Some of the leading nursing related resources in the US today include these:

  • American Nurses Association: This is the top nursing association in the US, with many opportunities each year for education, networking and career advancement.
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center: When you graduate with your MSN degree, you must sit for your national NP certification examination. That exam is administered by the ANCC. It also is the organization that provides numerous certifications in specialty NP fields. The mission of this organization is to promote excellence in health care and nursing around the world with its credentialing programs.