RN to MSN Programs in South Carolina

Only 8.8% of South Carolina’s RNs held advanced degrees as of 2011. This is 4% fewer than the national average, underscoring the need to increase enrollment in the state’s RN-MSN programs. Of those RNs with advanced degrees, 76% are over the age of 50 and will need to be replaced in the coming years as they enter retirement.

Studies indicate that 50% of South Carolina RNs that pursue graduate degrees complete their post-licensure program within between 6 and 15 years of entering practice. Enrolling in an RN-MSN program can result in achieving an MSN degree quicker and with less cost than obtaining a BSN and MSN independently. In fact, RN to MSN bridge programs often reduce the time it takes to earn an MSN by an entire year.

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RNs who receive an MSN degree in a relevant specialty track are eligible to obtain an Advanced Practice Register Nurse (APRN) license through the South Carolina Board of Nursing. APRN’s serve a vital role as primary care providers, offering a solution to the shortage physicians serving as primary care providers. Of South Carolina’s 46 counties, 42 are classified as medically underserved.

As the health status of South Carolina’s residents is among the worst in the United States, it is imperative that more APRNs work to fill the primary care gap so as to help encourage preventative measures shown to reduce the occurrence of chronic conditions later on.

The South Carolina Nursing Action Coalition developed the One Voice One Plan initiative in response to the critical need for nurses with graduate degrees in advanced practice, as well as in areas such as public health, education, administration, and informatics. Within this initiative are four task force teams working to bring these critical points to light:

  • Nurses should be allowed to practice to the full extent of training and education
  • The education system should be improved so that nurses can seamlessly advance in their academic education
  • Nurses should be considered as full partners with physicians in the redesigning of the health care system
  • Better data collection and improved information structure

Advances in these initiatives will enhance opportunities for RNs to continue their education through RN to MSN programs in South Carolina.

RN-MSN Programs in South Carolina

RN-MSN programs are available online or at campuses across South Carolina, offering flexible part-time and full-time programs designed to accommodate a nurse’s work schedule.

RN-MSN online programs may be fully online or require occasional campus visits depending on the school. Hybrid campus and online programs in South Carolina are located in the following cities:

  • Charleston
  • Greenville
  • Spartanburg

Admission requirements for RN-MSN programs in South Carolina typically include the following:

  • Current unrestricted RN license in South Carolina
  • ADN or nursing diploma from an accredited nursing program
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Minimum of 600+ hours of clinical practice within 12 months of application
  • Minimum GRE score

RN to MSN Program Course Content

South Carolina RN to MSN students who hold an ADN, or a bachelor’s degree in another field, must complete core bridge undergraduate nursing coursework before progressing on to graduate-level courses. Bridge courses often include:

  • Communications and technology in nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Health research
  • Community nursing partnerships
  • Community health

South Carolina’s RN to MSN programs differ slightly in the core graduate courses offered to students. Required coursework also depends upon a student’s undergraduate degree status upon entering the program, as well as the specialized course of study.

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Graduate nursing courses in an RN to MSN program usually amount to between 40 and 60 credits, depending upon a student’s specialized track of study. Core graduate nursing courses usually include:

  • Theory of nursing
  • Nursing research
  • Health policy, politics and nursing
  • Graduate thesis

In addition, RN to MSN students who have chosen a specialized track of study must also complete required core coursework specific to the area of specialization, which may be in:

  • Clinical leadership
  • Administration
  • Public Health
  • Informatics
  • Nursing Education
  • Advanced Practice
    • Nurse Practitioner (including patient population focus)
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (including patient population focus)
    • Nurse midwife
    • Nurse Anesthetist

RN-MSN Programs as Pathway to APRN Licensure in South Carolina

There are four categories of APRN recognized by the South Carolina Board of Nursing:

  • Certified Nurse Practitioners (NP)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA)
  • Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS)

To practice as an APRN a license must be received by the South Carolina Board of Nursing. The following steps should be followed to receive this licensure:

APRN’s licensed as Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) must obtain a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education in pharmacotherapeutics every two years to maintain prescriptive authority.

National certification in the advanced practice roles and patient population focus required for licensure can be attained through these organizations:

Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP):

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS):

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM):

Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA):

Some credentialing organization can require up to 150 hours of continued education and up to 1500 hours of patient care within a five-year period.

Career Opportunities Available to MSN-Educated Nurses in South Carolina

In South Carolina and other states across the nation, APRNs are able to practice in a wide array of settings which include the following:

  • Outpatient clinics
  • Private physician offices
  • Nurse practitioner-managed centers
  • Specialty practices
  • Rural health care centers
  • Outpatient surgery centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Mental health settings
  • Prison clinics
  • Hospice
  • Hospitals

Current openings as of the first quarter of 2015 for jobs that require an MSN degree within South Carolina include the following:

  • Nurse Manager Emergency Department – Piedmont Medical Center, Rock Hill
  • NCLEX RN Instructor – Kaplan, Myrtle Beach
  • Clinical Information Specialist – Spartanburg Medical Center, Spartanburg
  • Nurse Practitioner – Ingenios Health, Greenville
  • Lecturer, Pediatrics – Clemson University, Clemson
  • Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal – Greenville Health System, Greenville
  • Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • Clinical Instructor – University of South Carolina, Columbia

Examples are shown for illustrative purposes.

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