RN to MSN Programs in South Dakota

Primary care provider shortages are plaguing most of the nation, including South Dakota. Currently, more than 44% of South Dakota residents live in medically underserved areas. These shortages require other healthcare professionals to step up and help serve the population’s primary care needs. RNs that have earned an MSN or higher in the appropriate track are eligible to become Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) and serve as primary care providers, effectively offering a solution to the shortage of primary care providers. As of 2013, there were 14,672 RNs in South Dakota, 1,064 of which were licensed APNs.

A study conducted by the Initiative on the Future of Nursing found that patients fared as well or better when receiving health care from an APN versus a primary care physician. In some cases patients were more satisfied and were able to receive longer consultations. Legislative barriers have previously halted the ability for the APN to practice to the full extent of their training. Action campaigns like The South Dakota Action Coalition are working to break down those barriers.

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Specialized RN to MSN bridge programs offer the fastest route to earning an APN license through the South Dakota Board of Nursing. Other RN-MSN specialty tracks prepare RNs to take on roles in clinical leadership, education, administration, informatics, and public health.

RN-MSN Bridge Programs in South Dakota

RNs in South Dakota have the choice of online RN-MSN program or attending on campus classes if they reside close enough to an approved college of nursing. There are currently three colleges that offer campus courses in the state that are located in the following cities:

  • Yankton
  • Rapid City
  • Brookings

Online programs and programs that combine online and campus-based learning are the most common and readily available. These flexible programs allow students the ability to complete coursework from the comfort of their own homes and eliminate the need for traveling to class. Students can also choose part-time or full-time programs to accommodate their schedules.

RN-MSN programs can be highly competitive despite the urgent need in South Dakota for a higher educated nursing workforce. Admission requirements typically include the following:

  • ADN or diploma in nursing
  • Completion of approved statistics course within 5 years of application
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Active unencumbered RN license in South Dakota
  • Criminal background disclosure

RN to MSN Program Course Content and Structure

RN-MSN programs are designed to build on the skills and education acquired as an RN. Upon entering an RN to MSN program, certain bridge courses must be completed before graduate study can commence. These courses carry titles such as:

  • Professional nursing skill development
  • Transition into professional nursing
  • Population based health promotion
  • Epidemiology and statistics
  • Community nursing
  • Research in nursing
  • Leadership in nursing
  • Service learning project

Nursing core courses often found in RN to MSN programs include:

  • Introduction to advanced nursing roles
  • Organizational and systems leadership in nursing
  • Clinical prevention and population health
  • Quality improvement and safety
  • Critique of evidence for practice
  • Health care systems, policy and advocacy

RN to MSN specialty tracks are available to those interested in entering advanced clinical practice as a:

  • Certified Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • Certified Nurse Midwife

Non-clinical tracks may include:

  • Nurse Informaticist
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Educator

All specialty tracks will include core coursework in the specialized role. Regardless of specialty area, RN-MSN programs require a strong understanding of complex mathematics and science.

RN-MSN Programs as a Path to APN Licensure in South Dakota

The South Dakota Board of Nursing recognizes all four advanced practice roles:

  • Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

The Board grants APN licenses to qualified applicants that complete the following steps:

  • Complete APN application
  • Pay $100 licensure fee.
  • Have a current unencumbered South Dakota RN license
  • Complete background check
  • Submit transcript request
  • Complete and pass national certification exam in chosen specialty area

National Certification

National certification is a key requirement for the South Dakota Board of Nursing to issue an APN license. Depending on the specialty, there are several options for national certification in the four recognized APN roles:

Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP):

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS):

Working as an MSN-Educated Nurse in South Dakota

The APN certification allows nurses to perform many duties typically done by a primary care physician. These duties may include the following depending on the specialty:

  • Take health histories and perform physical examinations
  • Diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses
  • Prescribe and manage medications
  • Interpret lab and X-ray results
  • Provide health teaching and support counseling
  • Administer anesthesia
  • Provide primary care to women including prenatal and neonatal care

APNs can work in a variety of settings including physician offices, operating rooms, dental offices, birthing centers, hospitals and community clinics.

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Shown here as an example of the kind of opportunities available in March 2015, the following employers advertised jobs for MSN-educated nurses in South Dakota:

  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner – Black Hills Psychology, Spearfish
  • Travel Nurse Practitioner – Soliant Health, Rapid City
  • Family Nurse Practitioner – Np Now , Watertown
  • ER Nurse Practitioner – McCall and Lee, Brookings
  • Nurse Practitioner – City of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls

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