Almost every nurse today needs to consider the benefits of advanced education. While its possible to have a rewarding career with an ADN or BSN degree, you can boost your potential earnings and assume additional responsibilities with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). As the complexities in the delivery of care increase, healthcare organizations and nurse leaders cite the need for nurses to hold a graduate or post-graduate degree to keep up with other health care professionals, such as physicians and physical therapists.
A primary goal of the MSN degree is to prepare nurses for specialization. Nurses with a BSN degree are limited to general practice. If a specific area of nursing catches your interest, a graduate degree will help you develop the skills to assume a specialized role. Leadership training is a critical part of the program that will enable you to lead patients or healthcare professionals in the areas of patient care and education. Furthermore, if you’re considering certification as an advanced practice nurse (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist), you’ll need to submit documentation of completing an MSN to the DC Board of Nursing. The degree is also applicable for careers in informatics, nurse education, and healthcare administration.
Greater access to healthcare has exacerbated the current shortage of primary care physicians. In the District of Columbia, healthcare institutions rely on advanced practice nurses to fill the gap in primary care. APRNs have full practice authority with the ability to prescribe medications. The removal of barriers provides increased opportunities for MSN prepared nurses to not only practice but also close gaps in the delivery of care. The degree has become increasingly important for nurses in clinical practice. It supports their goals to participate in research, counsel patients and families, evaluate the medical needs of patients and develop a plan of care, diagnose and treat patients, order and interpret tests, perform physical exams and obtain health histories.
While more nurses pursue the MSN degree to strengthen their clinical practice, the degree can also provide the essential preparation for a role in nurse education. There’s a huge demand for educators, especially as over 60 percent of faculty is set to retire in the next decade. Colleges and universities turn away thousands of eligible candidates each year due to a shortage of teachers. Many positions require a doctorate degree. However, MSN nurses are employed to teach clinical classes. The degree can also prepare nurses for admission to a Ph.D. for a long and rewarding career in academia.
Advanced practice registered nurses earn the highest salaries in the profession. Some of the highest earning specialties include nurse researchers, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, psychiatric nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, and gerontological nurse practitioner. At the conclusion of the degree, you can apply for national certification in your specialty area and earn an annual salary of $88,000 to $135,800.
Completing a master’s degree requires a huge commitment. Through the online delivery of some of the coursework, nurses can complete the requirements without migrating to another state or city. Bridge programs, such as the RN to MSN, let nurses condense the time it takes to complete a full BSN followed by the graduate degree. Direct-entry students will have the flexibility to enroll full-time or part-time according to their needs.
The demand for healthcare professionals is expected to grow in light of the aging U.S. population. Jobs for advanced practice registered nurses and other positions that require a graduate degree are among the fastest growing nationwide and in the District of Columbia. MSN programs in DC appeal to registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree seeking the graduate-level preparation to prepare for specialized roles. Flexible part-time schedules and online accessibility help working nurses to advance their studies to expand their career opportunities.
Students enrolled in the program will complete core courses before commencing coursework in the area of concentration. While there are numerous areas of concentration, some schools may offer on two to three options. Increased accessibility through online delivery grants nurses the option to enroll in a program across the country if needed.
The MSN’s tiered curriculum improves students’ educational experiences and also adheres to the standards for certification in various specialization areas. All students must complete the mandatory core courses followed by population-specific coursework that focuses on the training need to assume population and specialty care. For clinical programs, the curriculum’s aim is to produce graduates capable of providing advanced care to individuals and populations across the lifespan and improve patient outcomes through the application of evidence-based practice. Graduates will also be skilled in research and commit to continued personal and professional advancement.
The studies build upon the foundation of the BSN to prepare students for leadership, administrative, educator, and clinical roles. Graduates will be experts capable of integrating research and academics in advanced practice, delivering care in a selected role, acquiring knowledge to support evidence-based practice and for optimum delivery of care, pursuing doctoral study.
Some MSN programs prepare nurses to become educators in an academic or clinical setting. Graduates will develop and design curriculum and objectives based on the educational setting. In nurse leadership programs, the objective is to produce the next generation of nurse leaders. Graduates will apply their expertise to improve and promote the profession of nursing.
To obtain an MSN degree, you’ll have to choose from one of the following options:
RN to MSN: The RN to MSN program supports the seamless transition from the associate degree in nursing to the master’s degree without completing the full requirements for a bachelor of science in nursing. Some programs deliver graduate courses from the commencement of the program and are structured in such a way as to save time and money.
Direct Entry MSN: This direct entry option requires a bachelor of science in nursing. It is designed for nurses seeking to prepare for advanced practice roles in a specialty area or a nurse educator or executive role. For advanced practice roles, graduates will need to complete a national certification exam to apply for licensure in their specialty. In some cases, candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing specialty may be considered but will need to complete prerequisite courses and apply for the NCLEX for licensure as a registered nurse before beginning the core courses.
Post-Master’s Certificate: Nurses holding a master’s degree can prepare for another role through the post-master’s certificate program. The curriculum requires completion of 15 to 22 credits of specialty courses in preparation for the role including clinical preparation for the development of their expertise. Graduates will apply for national certification for licensure to practice in the new role. The curriculum is tailored to meet the personal needs of the student based on their academics and experience in practice.
Summary of Enrollment Criteria
Submit a completed application with all of the following:
- Evidence of completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university
- Have a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale
- Official transcripts sent from all post-secondary schools
- Letters of recommendation – two or three depending on the program
- An up-to-date resume or curriculum vitae
- Personal statement of professional goals for the degree pursuing
- An active and unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
How Much Do MSN Programs Cost?
Graduate tuition is charged per credit hour so the costs will add up quickly. The total cost will vary by the program since the total credit hours differ from one concentration to another. One way to save costs is to enroll in a public university and compare programs across the country. Tuition assistance from your employer, state incentives for nursing students, grants, scholarship, and financial aid can all help to relieve the rising cost of pursuing graduate study.
Requirements For Advanced Practice Registered Nurses District of Columbia
Certification as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse in DC requires a current license as a registered nurse. Candidates without a registered nurse license must apply for the license at the same time they apply for certification as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.
Endorsement candidates must hold a license in good standing in another state or territory of the United States with standards that are comparable to those in the District of Columbia.
There are four categories for certification as an APRN in DC:
- Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Guidelines for Initial Certification as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Applications for APRN Certification may be downloaded from the Board’s website. The completed application with supporting documents must be mailed in the same package to the Board’s office. Place the documents in a 9×12 envelope and do not fold or staple the application.
Submit the following to the District of Columbia State Board of Nursing:
- Download and completed the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application
- Provide your name as you’d like it to appear on the license. Provide a copy of a legal name change document if your name is different from the name on the supporting document
- Provide your Social Security Number SSN of an affidavit form if you do not have an SSN and waiting for one to be issued.
- Provide a valid email address since most of the Board’s correspondence will be sent via email.
- Provide two passport-type photos of your face. It should measure approximately 2” x 2” and have your name and social security number printed on the back.
- Schedule an appointment for fingerprinting for a criminal background check if you have not had a State CBC and FBI CBC completed within the last 4 years.
- Provide a complete explanation on a separate sheet of paper and official documentation which includes details on the outcome or current status of the case if you have been convicted of a crime or answer “yes” to questions A through G.
- Enclose the non-refundable application fee for licensure. APRN licensure by endorsement costs $375, initial licensure for RNs holding a license in DC the cost if $230, and the cost to add an additional APRN authority to an APRN license is $119.
You can check the status of your licensure application online at http://doh.dc.gov/service/health-professionals. Click Application Status and input your Social Security Number and Last Name to register. After creating and entering your credentials, click View Checklist to get updates. Any information received and actions taken will be posted.
Continuing Education Requirements for APRNs District of Columbia
APRNs must complete 24 contact hours of continuing education for each renewal cycle. Out of the 24 contact hours, 15 hours must include a pharmacology component that is relevant to your field of practice.
The options available are:
Contact hour option: Submit an original verification form with a signature or stamp from the program sponsor.
Academic option: Submit proof of completing an undergraduate or graduate course that is relevant to nursing practice.
Teaching option: Submit proof that you developed or taught a course or other educational offering that is approved by the Board or an agency approved by the Boord. Each contact hour will equate to 4 CEs.
Author or Editor option: Provide evidence of authorship or editor of a book, chapter, or published peer-reviewed periodical. The periodical must have been published or accepted for publication during the period for which credit has been claimed.
APRN Renewal Requirements District of Columbia
The licenses for APRNs expire on June 30 of even-numbered years. All initial licenses will remain valid for the rest of the current renewal cycle. The renewal fee cannot be prorated. The DC Board of Nursing will mail a renewal notice to your address on record approximately three months before the license expires.
The license will be renewed for two years after you submit a completed application and renewal fee.
Contact the Board of Nursing
District of Columbia Health
899 North Capitol Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 442-5955
Fax: (202) 442-4795
MSN Programs District of Columbia
Washington, DC MSN programs:
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Avenue, Northeast, Washington, DC 20064
The George Washington University
2030 M Street, Suite 300, Northwest, Washington, DC 20036
Howard University Division of Nursing
2041 Georgia Avenue, Washington, DC 20060