The latest figures from the Alaska Board of Nursing showed that less than 1 percent of Registered Nurses in the State pursued a master’s degree as their initial educational route to nursing licensure. However, nearly 9 percent of all RNs in Alaska go on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing through RN-MSN bridge programs designed to prepare them for advanced practice nursing roles or nursing leadership positions.
Areas of nursing exclusively available to MSN-prepared RNs in Alaska include:
- Nurse educator
- Nurse practitioner
- Nurse midwife
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Nurse anesthetist
- Nurse administrator
- Health policy nurse
- Nurse researcher
Some RN to MSN programs confer both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in less time than it takes to earn a BSN and MSN separately. These streamlined programs make earning an MSN easier than ever.
RN to MSN Programs in Alaska
There is currently no RN to MSN programs in Alaska. However, thanks to a proliferation of these types of programs throughout the country, many of which are offered entirely online, RNs in Alaska have a wealth of opportunities when it comes to earning their MSN.
In addition to traditional college and universities that offer dedicated online RN to MSN programs, a large number of online institutions are now offering these programs. In fact, the American Association of Community Colleges reports that there are now more than 166 RN to MSN programs nationwide, with an additional 29 in development.
Many RN to MSN programs are designed specifically for the working RN; therefore, it is common to find programs that offer part-time and weekend study.
RN to MSN Program Admission Requirements
To be eligible for admission in to an RN to MSN program in Alaska, candidates must possess a current and unencumbered RN license. Many programs also require candidates to possess at least one year of clinical experience before they can apply.
In addition, candidates must typically possess a minimum GPA in their undergraduate coursework and provide the institution with a current resume for acceptance into an RN to MSN program. Other typical admission requirements include a written essay and a phone or personal interview.
Alaska students of RN to MSN programs are also required to earn a minimum GPA in their undergraduate (BSN) coursework to continue with the graduate portion (MSN) of the program.
Transferred credits are often flexible, and many students of these programs receive additional credits for their professional experience. It is typical for entering students to transfer about 30 credits from their undergraduate degree.
Nursing Specializations in an RN to MSN Program
In addition to graduate-level courses specific to the area of specialization, MSN core courses often include:
- Theories of learning and instruction
- Educational statistics
- Curriculum design and assessment
- Legal and ethical issues
- Clinical focus and practicum
- Nursing education/synthesis and application
RN to MSN programs allow students to focus their graduate nursing education on a clinical or non-clinical specialization. Students may also pursue a general studies MSN, which allows them to choose their electives based on their individual interests.
Some programs focus specifically on the RN interested in nursing jobs in leadership and education, while other programs prepare RNs to work as clinical Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs). Larger programs often offer both clinical and non-clinical specializations/tracks.
Aside from the nursing core, students in an RN to MSN program in Alaska must complete coursework specific to their chosen track/specialization. For example, students in an RN to MSN program with a nurse education track take courses such as:
- Advanced clinical pharmacology for RNs
- Adult learners
- Teaching strategies
- Roles of the nurse educator
- Pathophysiology for the RN
- Health assessment for the RN
How to Become an APN in Alaska
Nurses who have successfully completed an RN to MSN program and focused their study on a clinical track in advanced practice nursing must be state licensed through the Alaska Board of Nursing as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). The Board of Nursing recognizes the following APN specializations:
- Advanced Nurse Practitioner (nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist); must be authorized to practice in one or more of the following population focuses:
- Acute care/emergency
- Women’s health
- Family/individual across the lifespan
- Adult psychiatric/mental health
- Family psychiatric/mental health
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
The following national certifying bodies are recognized by the Board:
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
- Adult gerontology primary care (NP)
- Adult nurse practitioner
- National Certification Corporation
- Neonatal nurse practitioner
- Women’s healthcare nurse practitioner
- AACN Certification Corporation
- Acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP)
- American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
- Acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP)
- Adult nurse practitioner (ANP)
- Family nurse practitioner (FNP)
- Gerontological nurse practitioner (GNP)
- Pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP)
- Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Nurses
- Pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP)
Upon achieving national certification through a recognized national accrediting body, candidates must complete, sign and notarize the Advanced Nurse Practitioner Application or the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Application and provide the Board with the following:
- Certified copy of transcript showing the successful completion of the RN to MSN program
- Certified copy of the current certificate in a role and population focus by a national certifying body
- Reference form (included with the application) that consists of three professional references that verify the applicant’s competency to practice as an ANP or CRNA
- Prescriptive authority completion of courses (if applicable)
All RN licenses, as well as CRNP and ANP authorizations, expire on November 30 of even-numbered years. A CRNP or ANP license cannot be renewed until the RN license has been renewed.
Non-Clinical Careers for RN to MSN Program Graduates in Alaska
RN to MSN nurses in Alaska may also choose to focus their graduate education—and therefore their careers—in leadership nursing areas such as case management, infection prevention, nursing education, nursing forensics, healthcare law, nursing informatics, and nursing management and organizational leadership, just to name a few.
Some of the careers aimed at graduate-prepared RNs include:
- Unit manager
- Clinical practice leader
- Occupational health manager
- Clinical care systems manager
- Nursing administrator
- Case manager
- Patient advocate
- Clinical nurse educator
Some of the largest healthcare institutions in Alaska where MSN RNs may work include:
- Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage
- Central Peninsula General Hospital, Soldotna
- Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, Dillingham
- Bartlett Regional Hospital, Juneau
- Alaska Regional Hospital, Anchorage
- Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Anchorage
- Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage
Recent job postings show a number of professional opportunities for MSN RNs in Alaska:
- Nurse practitioner, surgical: Wasilla
- Advanced nurse practitioner/injection specialist: Anchorage
- OB/GYN nurse practitioner: Anchorage