RN to MSN Programs in Indiana

In addition to responding to the significant demand for skilled non-physician primary healthcare providers, Indiana’s nurses also pursue MSN degrees to advance their careers and to focus on a particular area of expertise.

The changing demographics of Indiana’s nursing professionals are reflected in long-term statistics:

  • In 1997 only 4.4 percent of Indiana’s nurses had a master’s degree, compared with 30.2 percent who held a bachelor’s degree
  • In 2007 the number of nurses with a master’s degree had climbed to 7.7 percent, compared with 37.7 percent who held a bachelor’s degree
  • By 2013 8.8 of nurses held an MSN, while 39.4 held a BSN
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Most RNs in Indiana get their start in nursing by earning an ADN (48 percent) or BSN (38 percent). Since improved patient outcomes are increasingly being linked to care provided by nurses with an MSN degree, the rising prominence of RN to MSN bridge programs should come as no surprise.

According to the most recent survey report released in collaboration with the Indiana Area Health Education Centers Program, statewide:

  • 13.6 percent of Indiana nurses hold an MSN or higher
  • 38.3 percent of nurses hold an ADN
  • 39.4 percent of nurses hold a BSN

To serve as primary care providers or otherwise take on specialized roles, most nurses who want to work in Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) areas also choose to earn an MSN degree. In fact, in 2013 85.1 percent of APN nurses held an MSN degree.

RN to MSN Programs Available in Indiana

There are at least half-a-dozen colleges and universities in Indiana whose schools of nursing offer RN to MSN bridge programs. These are located in the cities of:

  • Marion
  • Fort Wayne
  • Indianapolis
  • Muncie
  • Valparaiso
  • Online RN to MSN programs

The time it takes to complete one of these programs depends on a student’s level of prior education. Nurses who hold a nursing diploma or ADN can complete an RN to MSN program in as little as seven semesters, while nurses who have a BSN can complete these programs in as little as three semesters.

Indiana’s nursing schools offer RN to MSN programs in a traditional classroom setting as well as online. Nurses should be able to find a program that fits their schedule as well as their academic goals.

Schools offer MSN degrees in different areas of focus to give nurses a variety of future career options:

  • MSN generalist degree
  • MSN in Leadership for educators or administrators
  • MSN in Nursing Education for educators
  • MSN in Nursing and Health Systems
  • MSN degree to prepare nurses to specialize in Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) fields:
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Nurse Practitioner
    • Nurse Midwife

Many RN to MSN programs will also award BSN degrees as part of the overall course of study.

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RN to MSN Admission Requirements

Each school of nursing has its own nursing qualification requirements. Candidates can expect admission standards such as any of the following:

  • Current Indiana RN license
  • Prior RN experience
  • Essay on the subject of health care or nursing
  • Personal references
  • Completing of nursing prerequisites
  • Current CV or résumé
  • Minimum GPA
  • Minimum test scores, such as on the GRE
  • Academic requirements such as a nursing diploma, ADN, or BSN

RN to MSN Program Structure and Common Curriculum

Nurses who hold only a nursing diploma or ADN start their RN to MSN program by taking courses that will bring them to the equivalent level of a BSN. This may also actually result in a BSN depending on the nursing school’s policies. Courses of study can typically be completed in two to four semesters, and include classes like:

  • Transition to professional nursing
  • Global health issues
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Complex health care needs
  • Public health nursing
  • Nursing for infants, children, families, adults, and the elderly

Nurses who already hold the equivalent of a BSN will be able to start their core MSN classes soon after enrolling in the RN to MSN program. Courses will build upon a nurse’s practical and theoretical knowledge as the student commences with graduate-level classes in preparation for advanced nursing. This portion of the RN to MSN program can be completed in as little as three semesters for full-time students:

  • Professional nursing concepts
  • Theoretical foundations for advanced nursing
  • Transcultural healthcare
  • Management and leadership in nursing
  • Population and global approaches to healthcare
  • Advanced research and evidence-based practices in nursing
  • Health and ethics
  • Management of healthcare systems
  • Epidemiology and biostatistics

As part of the core MSN courses students will have the opportunity to focus on a particular area within the field of advanced nursing, resulting in an MSN degree that concentrates in subjects such as:

  • Nursing education/instruction
  • Nursing leadership and administration
  • Nursing informatics and research
  • APN fields

Nursing Clinicals

As part of their MSN program nurses will need to complete a segment of clinical education. Nursing schools have clinical agreements with health care providers throughout Indiana as well as the nation. This allows nurses completing online education programs to find a convenient clinical location. Depending on where a nurse is working, it may even be possible to complete the clinical education segment at an RN’s current place of employment.

Possible of clinical locations in Indiana can include:

  • Saint Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center in Indianapolis
  • Saint Frances Health in Indianapolis
  • Saint Mary’s Medical Center in Evansville
  • Dupont Hospital in Fort Wayne
  • Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne
  • Adams Memorial Hospital in Decatur
  • Memorial Hospital of South Bend

RN to MSN Programs as a Pathway to APN Licensure

The Indiana State Board of Nursing defines Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) as professionals who have the authority to prescribe medications. One of the ways of becoming eligible for prescriptive authority is to earn an MSN en route to achieving APN licensure (APN Application).

According to Indiana law, no license or registration is required for nurses who want to specialize in either of these APN fields:

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Practitioner

Nurses who want to specialize in Midwifery will need to complete an additional application and pass the certification exam offered by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Career Opportunities in Indiana for Nurses with an MSN

Having an MSN can open up new career opportunities for Indiana’s nurses. Besides simply improving their overall quality of patient care, nurses often choose to pursue an MSN because it can be a requirement for positions that involve:

  • Teaching as part of a nursing school’s faculty
  • Nursing administration
  • Nursing leadership
  • Health care informatics and research
  • Clinical leadership and management

A recent (March 2015) look through job vacancies seeking nurses with an MSN in Indiana revealed the following examples of employment possibilities:

  • Nursing Faculty Teacher at a community college in Bloomington
  • Clinical Nursing Educator at Parkview Wabash Hospital in Fort Wayne
  • Chief Nursing Officer at a behavioral health hospital in Lafayette
  • Nursing Program Director with a school in Indianapolis
  • Director of Nursing at a treatment facility in Lafayette
  • Clinical Education Specialist with Saint Elizabeth Regional Health in Lafayette
  • Nursing Lab Instructor at a school in Indianapolis
  • Chief Nursing Officer at Monroe Hospital in Bloomington

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