A report released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) stated that there are 260,715 licensed RNs and 17,597 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in the State of Texas as of 2013.
The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies (TCNWS) stated in a 2006 report that Texas is facing a critical nursing shortage. Further, the AACN revealed in a 2013 report that the projected need for healthcare services in Texas is expected to exceed the capabilities of the state’s RNs and APRNs.
The Texas Team, an action coalition comprised of Texas healthcare leaders, stated that about 50 percent of RNs in Texas have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) as their highest degree level. However, in order to meet the changing and complex needs of healthcare, the Texas Team is advocating for RNs to be prepared at a higher educational level. This has opened educational pathways for practicing RNs to receive an advanced education. One of these pathways is available through the state’s RN-MSN programs.
Many RNs complete their MSN degree as a path to APRN licensure, specializing as Certified Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurses, or, most commonly, Nurse Practitioners.
However, APRN licensure isn’t the only path available to MSN-educated RNs. Many RNs who have completed their MSN take on specialized roles in healthcare leadership, management, research, and education.
RN to MSN Programs in Texas
RN-MSN programs are designed for practicing nurses who have completed their Diploma, Associates Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Further, to allow for the already-busy schedules of many RNs, many higher education institutions provide students the opportunity of choosing part-time enrollment, as well as offering evening and weekend courses and online programs.
Several colleges and universities in Texas offer RN-MSN programs in the following cities:
- Corpus Christi
- San Antonio
- Wichita Falls
RN to MSN Program Admission
Each higher education institution may have slightly differing admission requirements. However, applicants can expect to submit or qualify for any of the following:
- Completed graduate application and application fee
- GRE scores
- Official transcripts from all undergraduate education
- Requirement of a minimum GPA
- Associate degree or diploma from a nursing program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
- Letters of Recommendation
- Personal statement/Essay
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Proof of current RN licensure
- A specific number of years of nursing experience
Overview of RN to MSN programs
Students enrolled in an RN-MSN program will generally complete their degree in two or three years, depending on their chosen program and enrollment status.
Students that have not yet completed a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing (BSN) are required to complete a certain amount of baccalaureate-level prerequisite courses before beginning their core MSN program. These courses, which each institution will determine for its students, serve to bridge the gap between associate’s degree-level and master’s degree level education. In some cases, certain higher education institutions will award students a BSN upon completion of their prerequisite courses.
These prerequisites courses can take up to two semesters to complete and might include any of the following:
- Health Assessment
- Nurse as a Research Consumer
- Nurse as a Caregiver
- Community Nursing
- Leadership and Management
- Gerontology Nursing
- Professional Development
- Nursing Research
- Community Health
Some higher education institutions also offer an accelerated RN-MSN program for students who have already completed a Bachelor’s degree in another field. This program will have a lower number of prerequisites to be completed.
After completing the required prerequisites, students begin their MSN program. The courses will vary depending on the program track the student has chosen but may include any of the following:
- Contemporary Perspectives
- Theoretical Foundations in Nursing
- Health Assessment for Advanced Nursing Practice
- Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics
- Advanced Pathophysiology
- Family and Group Theory in Advanced Nursing Practice
- Diagnostics for Mental Disorders
- Advanced Nursing Role Development
- Health Care Informatics
- Translational Science
- Organizational Behavior
- Healthcare Change and Communication
- Healthcare Finance
- Outcomes and Evaluation in Education
- Health Policy and Promotion
To fulfill the requirements of their core program, students will also complete a capstone assignment. This may consist of a thesis, evidence-based project, examination review, and/or a specific number of hours towards a clinical practicum.
APRN licensure in Texas
MSN-educated students are qualified to apply for an APRN license in any one of the following areas:
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Practitioner
After completing a master’s degree or higher in one of the four specialized roles, candidates must then complete a national certification exam to become nationally certified. Candidates can pursue certification and schedule exams directly through the respective certification agencies:
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)
- Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) – American Association of Critical Nurses (AACN), American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), and Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) – American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)- American Association of Critical Nurses (AACN), and American Association of Critical Nurses (AACN).
After earning national certification, the first step candidates will take to become an APRN is to submit the APRN application to the Texas Board of Nursing (BON), who will issue the candidate’s APRN license upon deeming them eligible. Along with completing the application, the candidate will need to submit or qualify for the following requirements:
- $100 non-refundable fee ($150 fee if requesting APRN licensure with prescriptive authority)
- Copy of current, valid Texas RN license, or a compact license from a state that belongs to the Nurse Licensure Compact for RNs
- Completion of an accredited MSN program within the last 24 calendar months
- National certification in the advanced role and specialty for which the candidate is applying
- A valid U.S. Social Security Number
- No eligibility issues, such as having been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony
It can take up to 30 business days for the BON to process and respond to applications. If additional information is needed, the BON will send a written request via mail or e-mail to request new information. Candidates are encouraged to carefully review their application before submission to ensure there are no mistakes, which will help to speed up the approval process.
Occupations for MSN-educated RNs in Texas
There are many specialized employment opportunities available to MSN-educated RNs. In a 2009 report by the TCNWS, of the 13,316 MSN-prepared nurses actively working in the State of Texas, 15% worked in administrative and managerial positions, 13% in faculty/educator positions, and 50.7% as APRNs.
The following are examples of opportunities that might be available to MSN-educated RNs or APRNs in Texas as of February 2015:
- RN Nurse Manager – Universal Health Services, Inc., Arlington
- Clinical Nurse Educator – Winnovation Enterprises, Fort Worth
- Chief Nursing Officer – Seton Medical Center, Austin
- Inpatient Clinical Educator – Adventist Health System, Killeen
- Director of Nursing – Kindred Healthcare, Fort Worth
- Nurse Practitioner – Advanced Pain Care, Round Rock