RN to MSN Programs in Georgia

As Georgia’s population ages, nurses with advanced capabilities will be an indispensable part of the healthcare workforce, stepping in to fill the role of primary care provider. Not only are these professionals required to accommodate a growing number of patients, studies show that having an MSN positively impacts patient outcomes. This was the precise conclusion of a study released by the California Institute for Nursing and Health Care (CINHC) in 2008. A year later a research team from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recommended that all RNs should be required to earn an MSN within 10 years of hire based on the findings of their research.

Many RNs pursue specialized RN-MSN programs on the way to becoming an Advanced Practice RN (APRN). Currently comprising only 7.5 percent of the total nurse workforce in Georgia, APRNs are in high demand throughout the state – a status that is only projected to increase in the future.

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Having earned APRN authorization from the Georgia Board of Nursing, nurses can join a workforce that is distributed among the advanced practice roles as shown here:

  • 302 APRN Psychiatric and Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • 439 APRN Nurse Midwifes
  • 1,757 APRN Nurse Anesthetists
  • 4,596 APRN Nurse Practitioners

In 2013 there were nearly 2,200 nursing students enrolled in MSN programs in Georgia. Many of these students were taking advantage of RN to MSN bridge programs, which are often offered online allowing nurses to keep working while they complete their studies.

In response to the increase in demand for more nurses with an MSN degree there are more scholarships available for prospective students – for both prospective APRNs as well as those interested in roles as generalists, educators, clinical leaders and administrators. One nursing school in Georgia offers all its MSN students the Future of Nursing Scholarship, which pays for 20 percent of tuition costs.

RN to MSN Programs in Georgia

There are at least 10 colleges and universities in Georgia that offer RN to MSN programs located in the cities of:

  • Savannah
  • Gainesville
  • Morrow
  • Atlanta
  • Augusta
  • Statesboro
  • Thomasville
  • Valdosta
  • Albany

Many of Georgia’s RN to MSN programs are offered either partially or completely online, eliminating the need for commuting to campus locations. Furthermore, schools of nursing that sponsor Georgia’s RN to MSN programs also have agreements with a variety of health care facilities throughout the state and nation to allow online students to complete their clinical studies at a nearby convenient location.

Different schools of nursing have different RN to MSN programs. Some can be completed in as little as five semesters while others range upwards of eight semesters. Many RN to MSN programs will also prepare nurses for an area of specialization as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) with practice-specific courses in one of four main APRN areas.

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RN to BSN Admission Requirements in Georgia

RN to BSN programs are for nurses who have already earned their RN license in Georgia. Depending on the program, it will admit nurses who have a nursing diploma, ADN, or BSN. Additional admission requirements for these programs can include any of the following:

  • At least one or two years of RN nursing experience in a place such as the ICU
  • Professional and character references
  • Minimum GRE test score
  • Essay
  • Minimum GPA

RN to MSN Program Coursework and Structure

The initial RN to MSN courses depend on what level of education a nurse has already achieved. Nurses with only diplomas or ADNs will need to take upper-division undergraduate courses before starting in on the graduate coursework. These undergraduate classes can include subjects like:

  • Nursing for infants, children, families, adults, and the elderly
  • Community health and nursing
  • Pharmacology and pathphysiology
  • Nursing leadership and management

Nurses who are near the equivalent level of a BSN will typically begin their program with upper-level undergraduate coursework to fill in any gaps in their prior education. These courses will segue into graduate classes, and many will also first result in a bachelor’s degree. A typical semester credit plan can look something like this:

  • 20 credits of upper-division undergraduate transitional courses
    • Professional nursing issues
    • Community health nursing practicum
    • Health assessments
  • 25 semester credits in core graduate nursing courses
    • Advanced nursing theory
    • Nursing research design and methodology
    • Nursing ethics, policy, and law
    • Nursing for at-risk populations
    • Nurse leadership and education
    • Nursing issues in the global world

  • 15 semester credits in specialized graduate nursing courses designed for:
    • Nurse practitioners
    • Future nurse educators
    • Nurse anesthetists
    • Administrative nurse leaders
    • Nurse midwifery

Clinical Segments of RN to MSN Programs

An important part of RN to MSN programs are the clinical segments. Nurses will already be familiar with clinical environments, and should check with their school of nursing to learn where clinicals may be completed. To accommodate online students, the clinical segments of many RN to MSN programs can be completed at locations far away from the actual school of nursing, sometimes even in different states.

In Georgia clinical courses can take place at facilities like:

  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Shepherd Medical Center in Atlanta
  • DeKalb Medical Center in Atlanta
  • Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta
  • Saint Joseph’s Candler Health System in Savannah
  • Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah
  • Floyd Medical Center in Rome
  • Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton
  • Midtown Medical Center in Columbus
  • Saint Francis in Columbus
  • Coliseum Health System in Macon
  • Navicent Health in Macon

RN to MSN Programs to Prepare for APRN Practice in Georgia

RN to MSN programs in Georgia offer general MSN degrees as well as MSN programs that prepare students to work as Advanced Practice RNs. The Georgia Board of Nursing recognizes APRNs who work in four general categories:

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Psychiatric and Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist

Within these four areas nurses will find a variety of different APRN specializations, including:

  • Nursing Leadership and Management
  • Nursing Education
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Practitioner:
    • Family Nurses Practitioner
    • Adult Nurse Practitioner
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

One conditions for becoming APRN-authorized is certification. Nurses will need to earn a certification from one of the following organizations in their APRN area of specialization. This list includes organizations that certify specializations within Georgia’s four main APRN categories:

After becoming certified, candidates will need to complete the Georgia Board of Nursing’s APRN authorization requirements to work as an APRN in Georgia. These are:

  • Hold an active Georgia RN License
  • Submit an APRN application
  • Provide the Board with official school transcripts
  • Have graduated from a nursing school within the past four years or have at least 500 hours of APRN experience
  • Hold an approved national certification in an APRN field

RN to MSN Programs Lead to a Multitude of Professional Opportunities in Georgia

Health care organizations that employ nurses are often more than happy to provide responsible employees who have proven themselves with chances to advance their education as well as their career. Many nurses who earn an MSN and gain APRN authorization will find doors open in their own hospital or clinic. Many health care providers will additionally provide incentive pay and tuition reimbursement for their nurses to further their education.

A February 2015 survey of job announcements in Georgia revealed the following examples of positions advertised to nurses with an MSN or APRN authorization:

  • Public Health Nurse Practitioner with Fulton County
  • Family Nurse Practitioner in Atlanta
  • Nurse Practitioner in Women’s Health with Emory Healthcare in Atlanta
  • Fertility Preservation Practitioner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Diabetes Educator with Novo Nordisk in Atlanta
  • Nurse Practitioner with Memorial Health in Savannah
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with the JC Lewis Primary Health Care Center in Savannah
  • Performance Improvement Coordinator at a health care facility in Savannah
  • Family Nurse Practitioner with CVS Health in Macon

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