RN to MSN Programs in Massachusetts

According to the Massachusetts Board of Nursing, as of 2014 there were 10,352 active Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) licenses in the state. Of that number, the majority are Certified Nurse Practitioners, followed by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialists and Certified Nurse Midwives. The Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing advocates higher education for the state’s registered nurses, as they believe that RNs who possess MSN degrees are better equipped to provide high quality health care to residents.

The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis predicts that by 2020, Massachusetts will have 51,400 licensed RNs working in the state, but will actually need 87,800 to meet the growing demand for nursing care. This represents a nursing shortage of 59 percent.

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The shortage is expected to be particularly acute among nurse practitioners and nurses in other advanced practice roles who are needed to serve as primary care providers in areas where the number of physicians is in short supply. More than 56 percent of Massachusetts’s residents live in such medically underserved areas, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. As of 2014, Massachusetts is considering adopting legislation that would allow NPs to practice independently in primary care without the need for physician supervision.

Not all MSN-educated RNs pursue APRN licensure, however. Some choose to seek nurse educator and leadership roles, which is another area in which Massachusetts is experiencing a shortfall. The AACN says that in 2013, 4495 qualified nursing school applicants were turned away due to lack of clinical training sites and a lack of nursing faculty. More MSN-trained RNs are necessary to fill the faculty shortages at Massachusetts’ nursing schools.

RN to MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Admission to RN to MSN programs in Massachusetts begins with choosing a graduate program approved by the Massachusetts Board of Nursing. Depending upon the school chosen, students may enter with an ADN degree, a BSN degree, or a bachelor’s degree in another field.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission to RN to MSN programs in Massachusetts may include:

  • At least a nursing diploma or an ADN degree, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate nursing courses
  • Hold a current, valid Massachusetts RN license
  • At least one year of work experience as an RN
  • Passed the GRE within the past five years
  • Provide personal letters of recommendation
  • Complete a personal interview
  • Have completed about 110 credits in undergraduate work, regardless of the degree earned, with 40 or so credits in general education courses including:
    • Statistics
    • Social sciences
    • Humanities
    • English
    • Electives
  • Have completed specific prerequisite nursing-related courses, which may include:
    • Microbiology (with lab)
    • Chemistry (with lab)
    • Anatomy and Physiology (with lab)

Composition of Massachusetts RN to MSN Programs

RN to MSN candidates who hold an ADN must complete certain bridge nursing courses prior to beginning graduate nursing course work. These courses vary depending upon the institution, but usually include:

  • Community health theory and clinical
  • Practicum
  • Principles of evidence-based nursing

The curriculum for a RN to MSN program in Massachusetts will also differ depending upon the specialization of the degree. For example, some RN to MSN programs are designed specifically for advanced practice roles, while others prepare nurses to work in leadership, administration or education. Generally, the curriculum will consist of 50 to 60 credits and will include:

  • Concepts of advanced practice nursing
  • Ethics of advanced practice nursing
  • Roles of advanced practice nurses
  • Advanced pharmacology along the lifespan
  • Advanced health assessment along the lifespan
  • Advanced pathophysiology along the lifespan
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Students who pursue the following specialties in their MSN degree must also take:

  • Nurse Practitioner:
    • Principles of epidemiology
    • Community nursing theory and clinical
  • Nurse Anesthetist:
    • Advanced principles for nurse anesthesia practice
    • Physiological variables for nurse anesthesia practice
    • Pharmacology of anesthetics and accessory drugs
  • Forensic Nursing:
    • Forensic mental health
    • Case studies in forensics

All RN to MSN students in Massachusetts must participate in at least one clinical practicum, depending upon their chosen specialty. Examples of medical facilities in Massachusetts in which these practicums may take place include:

  • Boston Medical Center- Boston
  • Luke’s Hospital- New Bedford
  • Quincy Medical Center- Quincy
  • Boston Children’s Hospital- Boston
  • Morton Hospital – Taunton

Pursuing APRN Licensure through RN to MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are legally authorized to practice advanced techniques such as assessment, diagnosis, and treatment modalities that RNs may not. There are five categories of specialized APRNs authorized by the Board to practice in Massachusetts, once they have met education, certification and other requirements. The licensure processes for each type of APRN in Massachusetts are explored below.

Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  • Must graduate from a Board-approved MSN-CNM program
  • Must pass a CNM examination administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board
  • Must file the Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Authorization with the Massachusetts Board of Nursing, along with a copy of the candidate’s current Massachusetts RN license, official verification of certification status, official transcript sent directly from the school(s), recent passport-sized photo of the candidate, and $150 authorization fee
  • Recent jobs for CNMs in Massachusetts were posted in:
    • Women’s Health Associates – Newton Lower Falls
    • Mount Auburn Hospital- Cambridge
    • Brockton Neighborhood Health Center – Brockton
    • Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates – Wellesley
    • Cape Cod Healthcare – Hyannis

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS)

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Specialized Nursing Jobs for RN to MSN Graduates in Massachusetts

For those who graduate from Massachusetts RN to MSN programs and do not seek APRN licensure, many other choices exist. Massachusetts RN to MSN programs offer several other specialties along with the MSN degree, such as nursing education, forensic nursing, nursing leadership, nursing management, clinical nurse leadership, and even a dual degree MSN/MBA at one school.

Jobs that may be available in Massachusetts for RN to MSN graduates outside of the APRN field include:

  • Program Manager- Salem
  • Clinic RN with MSN- Boston
  • Nurse Manager –Lynn
  • Nursing Instructor- Gardner
  • Director of Nursing – Great Barrington

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