Nurses are very much in demand across the country. To work as a nurse, one has to become an RN (Registered Nurse), which has an average annual salary of $68,450, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Meanwhile, it is quite common for nurses to want to further their career and become specialized nurses with even better salaries. Furthermore, the BLS has predicted that the number of jobs for such professionals is expected to increase by 31% from 2014 to 2024. To achieve this, they will complete the MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree. After obtaining their MSN degree, they can significantly advance their careers, obtaining new and better positions that are not available to those with an undergraduate degree. This includes administrative and management positions, and also education and research. Below are some of the top positions that someone with an MSN degree can obtain.
#1 Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) will work in specialized clinics and units to deliver nursing practices and critical care. This is a specialized type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), but with a focus on improving and managing existing care, as well as patient satisfaction. Often, the CNS specializes in a certain field, such as oncology, emergency medicine, or pediatrics. Holding an MSN degree means that the CNS can supervise other nurses, teaching them new and improved patient care techniques, while at the same time ensuring that the needs of the department are appropriately met. A CNS is also responsible for analyzing the results for patients, both in terms of their medical outcomes and their personal satisfaction. Analysis of such results is used to develop new policies and improve existing ones within the department. A CNS must also work closely with other members of the medical team to determine the level of patient care, and where and how this could be improved. Lastly, a CNS will provide nursing care and medical assessments for patients.
Typical job duties of a CNS include:
- Performing research in a specialized field
- Conducting physical examinations, treating patients, and counseling patient populations, including the carers and families of patients
- Providing health education to staff members, the community, patients, and their carers.
- Maintaining proper case management and clinical practice
Payscale.com reports median annual earnings of $85,623 for the clinical nurse specialist.
#2 Clinical Research Nurse
A clinical research nurse has responsibility for the care of patients during treatment. However, this is done not in regular hospital and clinical environments, but rather in clinical trials. This means that they provide care to patients who are trying new forms of treatment or other forms of new medicine, while they require nursing assistance. They work with a variety of people and will also provide all forms of care. These include studying the effects of certain medicine, ensuring that reports are written for documented evidence, understanding the need for clinical trials, and more. A clinical research nurse usually has a generalized background in terms of clinical care to be able to participate in clinical trials in a variety of health conditions.
Common tasks of a clinical nurse researcher include:
- Implementing, coordinating, and planning daily clinical schedules and procedures
- Collecting vitals and samples, and recording the data in an appropriate manner
- Responding to questions from sponsors of the study and participants alike
- Recruiting subjects for new studies, educating them, and managing the program itself, including scheduling.
Payscale.com reports that the median annual salary of the clinical research nurse is $69,236.
#3 Nurse Educator
Nurse educators are responsible for evaluating current nursing staff’s educational needs, as well as those of caregivers. In most cases, they work within hospitals, alongside administrators, and help to develop continuing education programs, as well as evaluation methods for the training and needs of current staff. Furthermore, they create policies and systems on how to deliver the best possible patient care and create educational programs based on them. To achieve their role, nurse educators must study the healthcare needs of the population they serve, so that they can determine the specific educational needs of the clinic or hospital. They must also be able to deliver training, conduct evaluations, and complete employee remediation as and when required. Hence, they often develop training guides and manuals, as well as write policies and manage systems. Typically, they deliver presentations to other medical staff, either through a teleconference or in person.
Typical duties of a nurse educator are:
- To guide and support clinical staff in understanding, implementing, and applying care guidelines, standards, and processes
- To take part in the evaluation of clinical staff performance
- To analyze standards and practices in order to determine where there are gaps, followed by designing new educational opportunities to ensure that patient care is improved
- To coordinate and manage the educational documentation and activities of the facility
Payscale.com reports that the median annual pay for a Nurse Educator is $72,672.
#4 Nurse Administrator
Nurse administrators are some kind of a case manager. They often work for organizations that deliver in-home nursing care. Additionally, they can be found in hospices, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
Typical duties of a nurse administrator are:
- To manage all staff operations, budget developments, and business plans
- To ensure that services delivered are fully compliant with the relevant standards on the local, state, and federal levels
- To direct and plan the overall nursing program in their facility
- To develop and maintain relationships with patients and their families and carers
- To be responsible for the inventory of their facility, including order processing and ensuring services and materials are distributed appropriately
According to Payscale.com, the median annual salary of a nurse administrator is $81,785.
#5 Family Nurse Practitioner
The family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a specialized APRN who delivers care in the same way as a physician, but targeted specifically at the family unit. FNPs help to diagnose and treat conditions and diseases and, in some states, may even prescribe medication. For many insurance companies, they are classed as primary care providers (PCPs). They work with people of any age, from the newborn to the elderly. They are there to be the first point of contact between a patient and the overall health care system. They help to manage common medical issues while at the same time referring their patients to specialized care if there is a need. Depending on the state in which they work, they may even alter a diagnosis made by a physician if their observations suggest that this is needed. Jump to 30+ Online Nurse Practitioner Programs with Accredited Options.
Typical duties of an FNP are:
- To perform a full physical examination and to counsel and treat the patient based on this
- To prescribe and administer therapeutic methods
- To assist physicians during complex procedures and surgeries
- To prescribe medication or therapy, possibly with approval of a physician depending on the state in which they operate
- To order tests and interpret their results, using this to recommend treatment
The median annual salary for a family nurse practitioner is $89,897, according to Payscale.com.
As you can see, completing an MSN degree opens up a wealth of career options. These are well-compensated, as well as provide nurses with personal satisfaction. In fact, MSN degree holders have consistently reported high levels of job satisfaction. Completing this advance degree, in other words, is a great way to achieve career advancement.
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- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
- MSN Salaries in the United States. (2017. Jul. 22). Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/salaries/msn-Salaries