RN to MSN Programs in Montana

Montana’s RN to MSN programs are designed to alleviate the state’s shortage of skilled clinicians and nurse educators by providing an accelerated pathway to graduate-level education and advanced practice licensure.

A 2011 report released by the Montana University System noted that the state’s nursing shortage is expected to continue, as the number of state residents over the age of 65 is on course to rise by 122.9 percent between 2000 and 2030. All areas of the state are expected to continue struggling with the nursing shortage, with Jefferson County bearing the brunt as it is expected to see a staggering 334 percent increase in the number of residents 65 and older during this 30-year projection period. By 2025, Montana will hold the distinction of being the third most aged state in the country. This increase in the elderly population will continue to fuel the demand for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who re relied on to serve as primary care providers.

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These factors contribute to the need for more highly skilled RNs in the state, and Montana’s specialized RN to MSN programs are seen as being a key component of the solution.

RN to MSN Programs in Montana

Montana’s specialized RN-MSN programs are available to generalists, as well as those aspiring to become advanced practice clinicians, educators, informaticists or administrators.

Under the rules of the Montana Board of Nursing, all nurses with MSNs must graduate from a nationally accredited program. This program should be accredited by an agency that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Education.

Prior to acceptance into an RN to MSN program, candidates are typically expected to fulfill these criteria:

  • Have a nursing diploma or an ADN from a nationally accredited undergraduate nursing school
  • Have a 3.0 or better GPA in all undergraduate nursing courses
  • Pass the GRE or other graduate school entrance exam
  • Hold a valid Montana RN license
  • Complete these prerequisite courses:
    • Psychology
    • Anatomy/physiology
    • Chemistry
    • Anatomy and physiology (with lab)
    • Nutrition
    • English
    • Statistics

Structure of Montana RN to MSN Programs

Nurses entering RN to MSN programs with an ADN degree must complete certain baccalaureate-level bridge courses designed to span the gap between associate’s and graduate level education. (For students who already hold a BSN degree, these courses should already have been taken). Examples of possible bridge course requirements include:

  • Management and leadership for RNs
  • Community health nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Research and theory of nursing
  • Nursing ethics and professionalism

In an RN to MSN program in Montana, core nursing courses, regardless of intended specialized track, will likely include:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Statistical applications
  • Evidence based practice
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical practicum

Students in RN to MSN programs in Montana may choose specialized career tracks, each of which carries its own course requirements, such as:

  • Nurse Practitioner:
    • Continuity of care
    • Diagnosis and treatment
    • Disease prevention and wellness
  • Certified Nurse Midwife:
    • Antepartum care
    • High-risk perinatal nursing
    • Well woman care
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist:
    • Diagnosis
    • Therapeutic interventions
    • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist:
    • Physiology and pathophysiology of anesthesia
    • Health assessment
    • Pharmacology for nurse anesthesia practice
  • Clinical Nurse Leader:
    • Finance and budget in health care systems
    • Design of health care delivery systems
    • Pharmacology and pathophysiology for the clinical nurse leader

Clinical practicums, which under Montana Board of Nursing rules must be at least 500 hours long, are required in all RN to MSN programs. Examples of possible placement sites for these practicums in Montana include:

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  • Medical Clinic of Big Sky – Cameron
  • Great Falls Clinic Medical Center- Great Falls
  • Patrick Hospital – Missoula
  • Central Montana Community Health – Lewistown
  • Veterans Affairs Clinic – Bozeman

Seeking APRN Licensure in Montana through RN to MSN Programs

Four types of APRNs may become licensed in Montana: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Certified Nurse Practitioner, and Certified Nurse Midwife. The process for licensure in each of these specialties is begun once a RN has graduated with an MSN degree.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)