RN to MSN Programs in Idaho

Nurses in Idaho and their employers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of having an MSN – both professionally and in terms of patient outcomes. Each year Idaho’s MSN programs are admitting more nurses who want to hone their skills and pursue specialized roles in both clinical and non-clinical practice. In 2013 there were nearly 100 students enrolled in MSN programs throughout Idaho.

The number of licensed APRNs in the state has been steadily increasing over recent years, as more RNs return to school to complete specialized RN to MSN bridge programs. In 2006 there were 914 APRN nurses licensed in Idaho. By 2010 that number had grown to 1,081 and in 2013 it reached 1,388.

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Additionally, many RN-MSN programs are designed for RNs interested in leadership, administrative, or teaching positions. In 2010 the Idaho Board of Nursing reported the following education statistics for all nurses statewide:

  • 906 had an MSN as their highest education
  • 4,212 had a BSN as their highest education
  • 5,526 held an ADN as their highest education
  • 698 held a nursing diploma as their highest education


Idaho’s RN to MSN Programs

There are several colleges and universities in Idaho that offer RN to MSN programs for professionals who already have a nursing diploma, ADN, or BSN. These programs can be offered either fully or partially online to accommodate the busy schedules of Idaho’s working nurses, allowing them to maintain their jobs while completing their education. Programs can also offer a flexible completion schedule.

Depending on their current level of education, incoming students can expect the following:

  • Programs for nurses with a nursing diploma – approximately 8-9 semesters and can also result in a BSN
  • Programs for nurses with an ADN – approximately 7-8 semesters and can also result in a BSN
  • Programs for nurses with a BSN – approximately 3-4 semesters

Obtaining an MSN is also a requirement for nurses who want to earn an APRN license from the Idaho Board of Nursing. RN to MSN nursing programs offer choices for different tracks of education that prepare students for various APRN specialization areas (Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Anesthetist, Clinical Nurse Specialist).

RN to MSN programs also offer tailored education for nurses who want to pursue other master’s-level studies, such as programs that result in an MSN with a concentration in Nursing Education or Nursing Leadership. Other programs simply offer a general MSN degree.

RN to MSN Program Admission Requirements

Each school of nursing has its own specific admission requirements. Candidates should consider the following common qualifications:

  • Current Idaho RN license
  • Admission to the main college or university
  • Completion of nursing prerequisites if candidates are applying with a nursing diploma or ADN
  • Minimum GPA
  • Professional references
  • Written essay
  • Complete résumé or CV
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RN to MSN Curriculum Structure

The length of an RN to MSN program depends on the level of education the nurse has achieved prior to entry. Those who have a nursing diploma or ADN will need to take courses that will first bring them to the BSN level:

  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Nursing for mothers and infants
  • Nursing health assessment
  • Evidence-based practice in nursing

Nurses who have a BSN or equivalent education will usually start their MSN program with bridge courses that transition from the undergraduate to graduate level. These will lead into the core MSN nursing courses:

  • Knowledge and theory of advanced nursing
  • Advanced principles in community nursing
  • Human pathophysiology
  • Nursing leadership perspectives
  • Nursing inter-professional collaboration
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Advanced nursing roles
  • Health policy
  • Advanced nursing practicum

As part of the core MSN nursing courses, students have the possibility of diverging from the general MSN into courses that will prepare them for various specializations, such as:

  • APRN Nurse Practitioner
  • APRN Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • APRN Family Nurse Practitioner
  • APRN Nurse Midwife
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Nurse Educator

RN to MSN Clinicals

Clinicals or practica are an important part of an RN to MSN program and can take place at any health care facility that has an agreement with a school of nursing. Sites of clinical locations are spread across Idaho and the region to accommodate students who are completing their education online. They are not necessarily located near their associated school of nursing. Examples of clinical locations are places like:

  • Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene
  • Saint Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise
  • Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise and Nampa
  • Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello
  • Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls
  • Intermountain Hospital in Boise
  • Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston


RN to MSN Programs as a Path to APRN Licensure in Idaho

Nurses in Idaho know that one of the main benefits of having an MSN is the eligibility to apply for APRN licensure with the Idaho Board of Nursing. The Board recognizes four broad categories of APRNs, with categories like Nurse Practitioners also having many sub-categories:

  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Certified Nurse Midwives
  • Registered Nurse Anesthetists

To earn an APRN license MSN graduates will need to first gain national certification from one of the following organizations in one of these four APRN areas or sub-areas:

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
  • National Certification Corporation (NCC)
  • Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB)
  • American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)
  • National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)

Once graduates have received their national certification they can fill out an Application for APRN Licensure with the Idaho Board of Nursing.

RN to MSN Programs as a Pathway to Advanced Employment Opportunities

In addition to APRN licensure, RN to MSN programs can also focus on preparing nurses for specialized roles in fields like administration, education or teaching, and clinical leadership.

Nurses with an MSN can enjoy more advanced and varied employment opportunities. A February 2015 survey of employment vacancies revealed the following professional examples:

  • Nurse Manager at Kootenai Health
  • Director of a local university’s Family Nurse Practitioner education program
  • Clinical Educator and Diabetes Trainer with VMS BioMarketing
  • NCLEX-RN Instructor at a local university
  • Nurse Lead at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Boise
  • Medical Science Liaison with Lock Search Group in Boise
  • Clinical Resource Manager with the Saint Alphonsus Health System
  • Associate Professor of Nursing at a local university

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