According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the state ranked nearly last in the U.S. for access to primary care physicians in 2011. In an effort to assure state residents have access to the primary care they need, the state has increasingly looked to MSN-qualified advanced practice nurses to fill this role.
Not only can nurses complete RN-MSN programs in a shorter time frame than doctors who attend traditional medical school, nurse practitioners are also able to provide many of the same basic health care services as primary care doctors after obtaining an Advanced Practice Registered Nursing license through the Oklahoma Board of Nursing.
However, RN to MSN programs are available in many specialized areas other than just advanced clinical care. In 2013, nearly 12% of the 2,783 nursing students in Oklahoma were pursuing RN-MSN bridge programs, many of whom choose to pursue high-level careers in healthcare administration, informatics and education.
Whether they pursue APRN licensure or careers in critically important non-clinical roles, Master of Science in Nursing graduates enjoy higher salaries than their ADN and BSN qualified counterparts. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, MSN prepared nurse administrators in Tulsa made an average of $12,000 more per year than ADN or BSN prepared RNs in 2011.
Enrolling in One of Oklahoma’s RN-MSN Programs
Because RNs often choose to continue working as they head back to school for an RN-MSN program, many institutions offer flexible online and distance-learning course options. Although a few programs are offered entirely online, more often students take hybrid online and on-campus classes.
Oklahoma’s RN-MSN students can select a campus-based program in these cities:
- Oklahoma City
Bridge Program Prerequisites
As nursing programs across the nation experience faculty shortages, students can expect RN-MSN program admission will be competitive. Although some programs do not have a minimum work experience requirement, a year or more of practice as an RN is generally preferable.
In addition to prior experience, schools generally outline the following admission requirements:
- Submission of an college admission application and fee
- Complete the NursingCAS Admission Application. The Centralized Application System for Nursing Programs, or CAS, is a standardized nursing application through which participating programs screen applicants and which allows students to apply to multiple institutions at once
- Submit three letters of recommendation
- Complete general undergrad requirements (many RN-MSN programs accept diploma and ADN nurses)
- Complete undergraduate or graduate statistics and research methodology courses with a C or better
- Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for the last 60 hours of academic credit completed
- Submit transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
- If requested, complete a faculty interview
- Provide a copy of a current, unencumbered RN license
RN-MSN Program Content Outline
RN-MSN bridge programs typically entail anywhere between 30 and 50 credit hours over a period of 2 to 3 years depending on a student’s previous education, full- or part-time status and whether a student plans to pursue nursing leadership or advanced clinical care. For instance, a general RN-MSN bridge program requires 33 credits over 2 years, while an APRN pathway program requires 47 credits over 2 to 3 years.
Program credit requirements are also determined by the prior education an RN has completed. Those with a diploma or ADN will typically need to take required undergraduate courses prior to graduate coursework or in place of electives. In certain cases, ADNs may take undergraduate coursework concurrently with a part-time RN-MSN program. Additionally, some RN-MSN programs will confer a BSN halfway through or upon matriculation.
Generalist RN-MSN Course Outline
General RN-MSN programs complement an RN’s patient care expertise with skill-building in human resource management, finance and healthcare leadership, preparing them to take on higher levels of administrative and management responsibility in their workplaces.
These general RN-MSN students will typically take courses in the following areas:
- MSN Core Curriculum with classes in Nursing Administration, Evidence-Based Practice, Nursing Management and Safety/Quality Improvement
- Specialty courses tailored to a student’s future career goals (management, education, clinical leadership, etc.)
- A capstone project or Master’s thesis course involving research synthesis and a final paper
Both general RN-MSN students and those pursuing APRN licensure will also complete professional experience requirements. Time commitments vary widely among programs and can be as little as the credit hours a student spends in a practicum class for some management programs, up to nearly 850 clinical rotation hours for some nurse practitioner programs. General RN-MSN students will shadow a professional in their field, while APRN students will work with preceptors in advanced patient care at a hospital or clinic.
Specialized APRN Programs
Specialized programs are available for students looking to pursue an RN-MSN program as a pathway to an Advanced Practice Registered Nursing license. These students choose a patient care role and a patient population focus when applying, and typically complete the general RN-MSN coursework above in addition to courses specific to their role and focus.
The following are specific APRN roles a student may select before applying:
- Nurse Practitioner in the following patient population foci: Adult/Gerontology, Neonatology, Women’s/Gender-related Health, Family Practice, Pediatrics or Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Clinical Nurse Specialist in the following foci: Medical-Surgical, Gerontological, Acute or Acute and Critical Care, Adult Psychiatric/Mental Health or Child and Adolescent Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Anesthetist
In addition to core MSN curriculum, students will take specialized coursework pertaining to their role, such as:
- Gerontological Management in Primary Care
- Advanced Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning
- Management in Adult Chronic Disease
- Primary Health Care for Women in the Family
Transitioning into Advanced Practice Nursing Careers in Oklahoma
Before obtaining an Advanced Practice Registered Nursing license through the Board of Nursing, RN-MSN graduates in Oklahoma must apply for certification through a role-specific national credentialing body. These national boards maintain their own standards, applications and exams, and students are expected to submit application materials and pass the appropriate national exam before applying for APRN licensure with the Oklahoma Board.
Credentialing Bodies Approved by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing
The following bodies provide acceptable certification for Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs) in Oklahoma:
- American Nurses Credentialing Center for Adult, Gerontological, Pediatric, Family Practice, Acute Care, Adult Psychiatric/Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board for Primary and Acute Pediatric
- National Certification Corporation for Neonatal, Women’s Health
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners for Adult, Family Practice and Gerontology
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) may be certified by the following credentialing bodies:
- American Nurses Credentialing Center for Gerontological, Adult, Pediatric, Adult Psychiatric/Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric/Mental Health,
- American Association of Critical Care Nurses for Neonatal Acute and Critical Care, Pediatric Acute and Critical Care, Adult Acute and Critical Care
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) must obtain certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) must be certified by the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists.
Once they have obtained the appropriate national credentials, students submit these along with an online APRN License/Certification/Recognition Application to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. Students must also have an official transcript sent directly from their degree-awarding institution and pay a $70 fee. If awaiting results from their national certification exam, students may choose to apply for temporary recognition for $10 extra. Certified Nurse Midwives must also verify their enrollment in the Certificate Maintenance Program through the credentialing body listed above.
Career Opportunities for APRN Licensed Nurses in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Policy Institute notes a statewide deficit in primary care providers and, as such, RN-MSN graduates who obtain APRN licensure are in high demand at medical facilities in both urban and rural areas. Below are a few such positions into which APRNs might transition as of March 2015:
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Universal Health Services in Tulsa
- Primary Care Nurse Practitioner at Staff Care in Anadarko
- Clinical Nurse Specialist at Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City
Transitioning into Other Clinical Leadership Roles as an MSN Graduate in Oklahoma
General RN-MSN graduates fill other crucial leadership and administrative roles in the healthcare system. Many transition into roles as directors of nursing, nurse managers and quality improvement experts at their current facilities of employment. These nurses put new skills into practice creating efficient, thriving environments for both patients and staff under their supervision.
A particularly high-demand field for RN-MSN graduates is nursing education, as the AACN notes nearly 1,000 qualified students were turned away from the state’s nursing programs in 2013 due to faculty shortages. MSN graduates who choose careers in nurse education not only train the next generation of nurses, they also help to ease the state’s clinical care shortage by adding more qualified nurses to the workforce.
Career Opportunities for RN-MSN Graduates in Oklahoma
As of March 2015, the following are a few positions into which general RN-MSN graduates might transition:
- Clinical Instructor or Assistant Professor of Nursing at Oklahoma City University
- Nurse Director of Surgical Services at Nealy Pierce in Norman
- Case Management Director at Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa