RN to MSN Programs in Ohio

According to a 2012 article in the Dayton Daily News, Ohio could face a shortage of more than 5,000 primary care providers by 2020. In response to the shortage, MSN-qualified nurse practitioners are being called on more frequently to fill these gaps in the state’s healthcare system.

As such, specialized RN-MSN bridge programs provide an ideal pathway to a Certificate of Authority for Advanced Practice Nursing through the Ohio Board of Nursing, allowing nurses to better accommodate Ohio’s growing clinical care demands. In addition, other RN-MSN programs qualify RNs for clinical leadership positions, as well as positions in nursing education, administration and informatics.

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Not only do their skills match pressing healthcare needs, RN-MSN graduates also enjoy higher pay than lesser-educated RNs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of 2011 MSN prepared APRNs in Ohio earned an average of nearly $94,000 per year, compared to roughly $60,000 for ADN and BSN prepared RNs.

Enrolling in an Ohio RN-MSN Bridge Program

Institutions with RN-MSN bridge programs frequently offer flexible distance-learning and online course options to accommodate working RNs. While some programs are entirely online, more often students take a blend of online, distance and on-campus courses.

Students may choose from programs based out of campuses in the following cities:

  • Columbus
  • Cleveland
  • Cedarville
  • Cincinnati
  • Steubenville
  • Kent
  • Canton
  • Athens
  • Westerville
  • Toledo
  • Akron
  • Dayton
  • Youngstown
  • Pepper Pike

Bridge Program Prerequisites

In light of the nationwide faculty shortages and low numbers of available seats in RN-MSN programs outlined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in 2013, admission has become increasingly competitive. Prospective students are generally advised to have at least three years practice as an RN before applying, and more experience is always considered favorably.

In addition, students with diplomas, ADN or BSN degrees will encounter some of the following enrollment requirements laid out by their institution of choice prior to enrolling:

  • Submit an application for graduate admission and pay the application fee
  • Provide a copy of the student’s current Ohio RN license
  • Provide three references
  • Submit official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA in prior college coursework
  • Submit a resume
  • Write a statement of goals

RN-MSN Bridge Program Outline

RN-MSN programs generally require between 35 and 50 credits over 2 to 3 years depending on whether a student plans to work in administrative settings or direct patient care.  For example, a general RN-MSN bridge program requires 39 credits over 2 years, while an RN-MSN program for Adult Primary Care APRNs requires 47 credits over 2 to 3 years.

Program length is also determined in part by a student’s prior level of education. RNs with diplomas or ADN degrees will need to take required undergraduate courses either concurrently or in lieu of open electives in their program of choice. In some cases, RN-MSN degree programs will confer a BSN in addition to a Master of Science in Nursing upon matriculation.

General RN-MSN coursework builds on a student’s patient care expertise and prepares them to take on higher levels of responsibility at their current facilities of employment or transition into roles in administration, human resource management and informatics.

Students in these general programs will take coursework in the following areas:

  • Master of Science in Nursing Core Curriculum including courses in Quality Improvement and Informatics, the American Healthcare System, and Human Resource Management
  • Specialty curriculum in a student’s chosen area of study (education, administration, etc.)
  • A capstone project or Master’s thesis course involving research synthesis and a final paper

Both general RN-MSN students and those pursuing an Ohio Certificate of Authority to practice as an APRN will also complete between 400 and 500 clinical experience hours through their institution at partner medical facility. APRN students will shadow clinical preceptors in their chosen advanced practice role, while generalist students will work with professionals in administration, leadership or education.

Specialized APRN Programs

Specialized RN-MSN bridge programs are also offered for MSN students looking to pursue advanced practice nursing licensure. Program entrants typically select this role and a specific patient population focus prior to enrollment. Students then complete the core nursing coursework above in addition to courses tailored to their specific APRN role and population focus.

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Specialized programs are available in Ohio for four APRN roles and the following patient population foci:

  • Nurse Practitioner in the following six patient population foci: Adult/Gerontology, Family Practice, Neonatology, Pediatrics, Women’s/Gender-related Health, Psychiatric/Mental health
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists in the following foci: Acute or Acute and Critical Care, Medical-Surgical, Gerontological, Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health or Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health

Students will take specialized coursework specific to their role and focus in addition to MSN nursing core curriculum, in classes such as the following:

  • Adult Acute Nurse Practitioner Skills
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Innovation and Leadership in Advanced Nursing Practice


Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse in Ohio

Prior to obtaining a Certificate of Authority for Advanced Practice Nursing through the Ohio Board of Nursing, national credentialing bodies must certify RN-MSN students in their respective areas of practice. Each body has a specific exam and certification process, and students are expected to schedule exams, provide the proper application materials and obtain certification before applying for their Certificate of Authority at the state level.

Ohio Board of Nursing-Approved Credentialing Bodies

The following bodies provide certification acceptable to the Ohio Board of Nursing for Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs):

The following bodies provide acceptable certification for Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs):

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) must be certified through the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists.

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) must obtain certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board.

After obtaining certification through the appropriate national board, RN-MSN graduates apply for a Certificate of Authority to practice as an APRN through the Ohio Board of Nursing. To do so, they must submit a notarized Certificate of Authority Application Packet and provide the Board with a $100 fee, a 2 in. by 2 in. photo, verification of national certification and proof of graduate matriculation sent directly from their degree-awarding institution.

Career Opportunities for APRN Licensed Nurses in Ohio

As the Dayton Daily News reports, the number of medical students choosing primary care roles in family medicine and pediatrics has declined in recent years, allowing nurse practitioners to fill these roles in increasing number. Advanced Practice Nurses who receive a Certificate of Authority in Ohio are well-suited for these changes and find themselves in high demand at many hospitals and clinics throughout the state.

The following are a few jobs into which APRNs might transition as of March 2015:

  • Outpatient Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner at St. Vincent Medical Center in Cleveland
  • APRN Coordinator- Psychiatry at Akron General Health System in Akron
  • Certified Nurse Midwife at Promedica in Toledo


Transitioning into Other Specialized Healthcare Roles in Ohio as an MSN Graduate

General RN-MSN students are eligible to fill a variety of high-level positions in the healthcare field. Many return to their facility of employment and transition from roles as RNs to positions in administration, human resource management and informatics. These nurses manage comprehensive client care and put evidence-based practice to work, creating an environment where both patients and employees thrive.

In conjunction with their MSN degree, RN-MSN graduates who specialize in education can also earn a Nurse Educator Certificate that qualifies them to fill faculty positions and train the next generation of nursing professionals. MSN graduates who go this route also ease a nationwide shortage of nurse educators that prevents nursing education programs from keeping pace with nation’s growing need for educated nurses.

Some positions into which general RN-MSN degree graduates might transition are (March 2015):

  • Nursing Educator at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus
  • Director of Nursing at Briar Hill Health Care Residence in Middlefield
  • Clinical Improvement Consultant at TriHealth in Cincinnati

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