Despite its endless challenges, the nursing career is very rewarding, especially due to several available opportunities for growth. Most people enter the nursing career by obtaining a graduate degree in nursing, allowing them to practice as registered nurses. While being an RN is fulfilling, you should consider advancing your career by enrolling in a master’s program.
Unlike entry programs, choosing the right master’s program in nursing is tasking. Nursing schools offer several programs, making it challenging for many people to find the right fit. Consider the following tips to find a suitable nursing program.
1. Evaluate the programs’ curriculum
You should begin by identifying your preferred area of specialization, be it psychiatric or pediatric nursing. If you’ve decided to proceed with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program, visit the program’s website to ensure that its curriculum matches your interests. Similarly, if you are interested in neonatal or pediatric nursing, find out if the program offers specialized curriculums.
You should also decide if you want a clinical-focused or research-oriented master’s program. Some courses are research focused, while others adopt hands-on experience. Lastly, you should evaluate the program length. Typical master’s degree programs last between 18 and 24 months. You should choose a program that aligns with your schedule.
2. Check the programs’ admission requirements
You should inquire from the admission team about your chosen programs’ admission requirements. The admission team can provide enough information, including financial aid and campus life. Make inquiries on the following:
- What are key admission deadlines?
- How is student life on campus?
- Which tests are mandatory?
- What’s included in the curriculum?
- Should applicants have healthcare work experience?
- How many clinical hours should students complete to graduate?
- What job prospects are available after graduating?
Asking these questions can help you decide if the program is worth pursuing.
3. Consider your future goals
Your chosen master’s program should help you achieve future career goals. For instance, if you dream of becoming a clinical nurse specialist or certified nurse practitioner, you should choose aligning programs. Remember that you need licensing and board certification to practice as an advanced practice nurse.
MSN programs are specifically tailored and focus on a specific area of practice. For instance, you can become a mental health nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or family nurse practitioner. You should clearly set your goals before enrolling in the program.
4. Find out if financial aid is available
There are several financial aids available for post-graduate students taking different programs. You might be eligible for state grants, federal loans, and other scholarships, depending on your qualifications. You can also qualify for private awards from the nursing school.
5. Consider the location
Returning to school as an adult student is daunting, especially if you have work and family responsibilities. Fortunately, most programs have introduced online study options that accommodate students with busy schedules. However, nursing programs include clinicals, which require physical attendance. You should find nursing programs that offer hybrid learning options and are close to your home.
Choosing the right master’s nursing program isn’t an easy task. Even with a predetermined course and goals, you should consider many other factors before pursuing a postgraduate nursing degree.