A report released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) revealed that there are twenty-two Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/Ps) in the State of Utah as of 2013. MUA/Ps are areas where residents face barriers to accessing healthcare, as determined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Further, there are 554,390 Utah residents facing primary care provider shortages as of 2013.
In a 2013 APRN workforce study done by The Utah Medical Education Council, it was revealed that thirty-five percent of Utah’s Nurse Practitioners work in primary care. A 2011 report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reveals that a large body of research shows that APRNs are as qualified as physicians at providing primary care and could play a key role in solving primary care provider shortages.
The Utah Action Coalition for Health, made up of healthcare leaders in the State of Utah, believes that Utah’s nursing workforce must be prepared at a higher educational level in order to meet the changing needs of the state. The coalition released a status report for November 2013-January 2014, revealing their goal to advance the educational progression of Utah’s nurses. As part of this goal, the Deans and Directors from all of Utah’s nursing programs have committed to developing programs that allow for a seamless educational progression from associate’s-level through graduate-level programs.
According to the AACN, Utah had 2,171 nursing students enrolled in Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs in 2013. MSN programs prepare nurses for a higher level of nursing practice and more specialized nursing roles. Utah’s APRNs specialize as either clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurses, certified nurse-midwives, and, most commonly, nurse practitioners.
APRN-licensure is not the only option for MSN-educated nurses, however. Individuals who have completed an MSN are also qualified to pursue advanced roles in healthcare leadership, including management roles. Further, for nurses interested in pursuing a faculty role at a higher education institution, the MSN is an important step towards the doctoral education that is typically required.
Utah’s RN to MSN Programs
Nurses who have completed a Diploma, Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are qualified to pursue their MSN through RN-MSN programs. As of February 2015, Utah is home to two universities offering RN to MSN programs, both based out of Salt Lake City.
RN-MSN programs in Utah are designed to provide flexibility for working RNs with full schedules. Accordingly, certain universities offer students the option of part-time enrollment and online programs.
Qualifications for Admission to RN to MSN Programs
Utah’s higher education institutions may have differing requirements for admission to their RN-MSN programs. However, applicants may be required to submit any of the following items:
- Completed application
- Proof of Associate’s Degree in Nursing from a regionally accredited university
- Proof of current RN licensure
- Minimum GPA requirement, as determined by the university
- Prerequisite courses, as determined by the university
- Official transcripts for all undergraduate education completed
Structure of RN to MSN Programs
RN-MSN programs may take two, or even up to three, years to complete, depending on the student’s specific program track and enrollment status.
Students entering with an ADN will begin their program by completing a specific number of baccalaureate-level prerequisite courses. These courses are necessary to prepare associate’s degree-prepared students for master’s degree-level education. In some cases, students will earn their bachelor’s degree upon completing their prerequisite courses.
The courses, which are determined by each university, can take approximately two semesters to complete and may include:
- Foundations of Mathematics
- English Composition
- Survey of United States Constitution and Government
- Elements of Effective Communication
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology
- Probability and Statistics
- Human Anatomy
- Human Physiology
After completing the general requirements or their bachelor’s degree, students begin their MSN program. Depending on their chosen program track, their courses can include:
- Organizational Systems and Quality Leadership
- Advanced Information Management and the Application of Technology
- Advanced Professional Roles and Values
- Contemporary Pharmacotherapeutics
- Essentials of Advanced Nursing Practice Field Experience
- Policy, Politics, and Global Health Trends
- Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice
- Clinical Database Design
- Successful Implementation of Systems in Healthcare Settings
- Professional Role and Collaboration
- Advanced Physical Assessment & Health Promotion Across the Lifespan
To fulfill their MSN program requirements, students will also be required to complete a capstone assignment. Each university will determine their requirements for this assignment, which may consist of a thesis, a project, and/or a clinical experience.
APRN Certification and Licensure in Utah
Qualifying for APRN licensure after earning the appropriate master’s degree starts by earning national certification. Candidates can pursue certification and schedule exams directly through the respective certification agencies:
- National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) – Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- 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 Practitioner (CNP)
- American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) – Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) –
- American Association of Critical Nurses (AACN), and American Association of Critical Nurses (AACN) – Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Certification and the related exams are further specialized by the specific patient population group an advanced practice nurse will be working with.
To receive APRN licensure in Utah after becoming nationally certified, candidates will first submit the APRN application to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL). Along with completing the application, the following items will also be required:
- $140 fee (non-refundable)
- Two sets of fingerprints
- Official transcripts documenting completion of an MSN
- Official documentation of RN licensure
Further, APRN applicants must apply for licensure in one of the following roles:
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Practitioner
Once the DOPL has processed the candidate’s application and determined the candidate eligible for licensure, they will send the candidate their APRN license.
Jobs Exclusive to MSN Educated Nurses in Utah
MSN-educated nurses are uniquely qualified to pursue several specialized employment roles. Examples of the employment opportunities for MSN-educated RNs or APRNS in the State of Utah as of 2015 include:
- NCLEX RN Instructor – Kaplan, Richfield
- Nurse Practitioner – Discovery House, Layton
- Clinical Learning Lab Instructor – Western Governors University, Salt Lake City
- Director, NICU – Jordan Valley Medical Center, West Jordan
As of 2011, the median salary for APRNs in Utah is $88,000.