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From RN to Nurse Practitioner: How to Apply Your Degree

Many career paths throughout the world require specialized schooling and education to work in that field. One field that requires quite a bit of schooling is the healthcare industry. If you want to work as a nurse, pharmacist, doctor, or surgeon, you need to be prepared to spend several years learning all you can about medicine. But once you have that degree, you’ll have plenty of amazing opportunities. If you look at nursing, in particular, there are a few different pathways you can take with your education to work in the nursing field. Each comes with a unique set of responsibilities and opportunities for your future.

From becoming an RN to getting your master’s degree or doctorate in nursing, there are many different ways in which you can use your degree. Each level of schooling will allow you time to find your specialty and decide what area of medicine is most interesting to you. You’ll have a number of doors open to you to work in different fields of medicine. With such a wide array of specialties and areas, you’re sure to find a niche you will absolutely love. Plus, the more schooling you commit to, the more opportunities you will have. Let’s look at a few ways you can apply your degree in nursing, whatever that may be.

Difference Between an RN and MSN

Before you can decide what degree path is right for you, it helps to understand the difference between degrees and professions. Most nurses start out as registered nurses, also known as RNs. You can get your RN certification after getting your associate degree in nursing or your bachelor’s degree. From there, you just have to pass the test in your state and you are officially certified to practice medicine. If you have aspirations to work beyond being an RN, you’ll need additional schooling to get your master’s of science in nursing (MSN). This gives you the ability to become a nurse practitioner (NP), a career in which you hold similar responsibilities and roles as a primary care doctor. An MSN degree can open the door for many new career opportunities for healthcare professionals.

Typically, students will go to school to become an RN, practice for a while as a health care provider, then consider going back to school for an MSN. However, there are bridge programs and opportunities that will help you get higher education in a simpler, streamlined way. With an RN to nurse practitioner program, you combine your course work and clinical hours to all count toward the same end goal. You can save thousands in tuition and months of your time with these special bridge program opportunities. These are great options for individuals who want more opportunities with an MSN degree.

Job Opportunities with an MSN

Working as a nurse typically involves assisting doctors and interacting with patients on a close, personal level. However, there are so many other areas and specialties you can get involved in within the nursing field. Many of these exciting prospects become more realistic once you hold a higher diploma. Working as an RN is, of course, great and completely necessary, but if you’re looking for different kinds of opportunities, an MSN can give those to you. Let’s take a look at a few of the job opportunities that you can pursue as a medical provider with a graduate degree.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

The natural next step for nurses pursuing their MSN is to become an advanced practice nurse like a nurse practitioner (NP). NPs have many of the same responsibilities as doctors. From family nurse practitioners to pediatrics NPs, these professionals may even have the ability to prescribe medications and craft entire treatment plans. Whether you are prescribing a dose of medication or just talking about daily supplements, you’ll be able to communicate with patients and function as their primary care provider. You can recommend the best nutritional supplement company for them to rely on to get the vitamins they need while keeping them healthy. Whether you’re working with kids or patients with chronic illness, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your patients and make a big difference in their lives.

Healthcare Attorney

Nurses are special, because your education doesn’t just teach you about medicine, but also about critical thinking. Practitioners think about problems differently and have a unique outlook within the healthcare field. Some individuals with an MSN may even choose to get another degree in law. Jobs as a health care attorney or legal nurse consultant can be a great option for individuals who want to offer legal advice.

Hospitals and clinics need to have medical malpractice insurance in case a patient is harmed during care. Whether it was due to negligence or not, this protects the doctors, NPs, and other nurses from a harmful lawsuit. On the flip side, you could work with a law firm to offer medical knowledge for these malpractice cases. New Mexico medical malpractice attorneys and other experts work diligently to get family members and patients compensation if they were involved in a malpractice case due to medical error. Medical professionals can make mistakes, but with experience in both medicine and law, you can help make things right.

Research and Development

For nurses who don’t enjoy the face-to-face interaction with patients as much as other things, you may be able to use your MSN to focus on research rather than medical care. You can help develop new treatments and pharmaceuticals to change the landscape of healthcare. Every great discovery started as a piece of research and a hypothesis. Who knows? You could be finding new hope for a patient who just received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or ways to slow down the effects. In cases like that, early diagnosis is key and you could be making a difference for thousands of family members. The possibilities are endless for research past your MSN.

Nurse Educator

Speaking of education and the future, holding an MSN also makes you eligible to teach young nurses. You can work within collegiate nursing education to help others engage with the healthcare field. This is a great way to pass on your knowledge and give back to the community while still practicing.