Duquesne University's Advanced Practice Specialties are Key Add-Ons to Web-Based MSN

Nursing Masters Offer RNs Career Mobility

There are two ways in which nursing students may pursue the online Masters of Science in Nursing degree: as a straightforward MSN program or via the RN to BSN/MSN program. The latter allows two-year RNs that complete their Bachelors of Science in Nursing with a 3.0 GPA or higher, the opportunity to abbreviate the MSN with courses already earned toward the degree.

Essential MSN

The MSN degree, regardless of degree track, is becoming one of the more sought after nursing credentials. Experienced staff nurses have found a growing mid- to upper management job level just begging for the expertise of nursing professionals. The growing national nursing shortage also drives the demand for advanced practice nurses. Nurse educators, alone, comprise one of the most needful professionals. One of the systemic components of the nursing shortage is higher education's inability to place enough educators into classrooms with nursing students. Instead, scores of nursing candidates have been turned away, put on waiting lists until nursing programs can again handle the load.

The online MSN is designed by DU nurse faculty and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The foundation of the program is built on a curriculum that includes: nursing research, advanced nursing theory, healthcare bioethics, advanced nursing assessment, and APN pharmacology. There is also a hands-on clinical practice that online students may complete locally with a program-approved preceptor.

Advanced Practice Specialties

Because Masters of Science in Nursing students are studying for advanced practice specialties, DU requires the initial core courses and then asks MSN candidates to choose one of six APN specialties:

  • Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist receives intensive training in advanced care and assessment of acute patients and their families. This patient population encompasses a wide variety of very ill patients. CNSs have much more latitude and autonomy than do staff RNs. Their skills allow them intensive, one-on-one care, opportunity to develop and plan short-term and long-term care plans that may incorporate integrative therapies and healthcare solutions. Acute Care MSNs are prepared to credential as Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialists, or Advanced Practice RNs.
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialists are trained to work as advanced practice nurses in a patient care setting where they may be required to practice highly specialized assessment tactics, develop and apply customized care, and educate family as well as patients interrupted by mental health challenges.
  • Family Nurse Practitioners are trained to practice either independently or as part of a larger healthcare team. Nurse NPs may solicit patients, make their own assessments, develop diagnoses and treatments, educate and create long-term patient and family healthcare plans. NPs are very good when patients require intensive healthcare coordinator, counseling and general hands-on guidance. Family units differ; curriculum may include at-risk families and those in childbearing years.
  • Forensic Nurse MSNs lead a new generation of very specifically trained RNs-those that combine nursing skills with law enforcement by employing investigative methods to criminal, accident, and insurance cases. Specific coursework includes courtroom procedure, evidence collection and preservation, criminal law and ethics, and types of crime and criminals.
  • Nurse Administrators receive training that prepares them for the challenges faced by nurses in mid and upper level healthcare management. In many situations, nursing leaders must synthesize the demands of nursing with the needs of the healthcare system, and vice versa. Candidates learn organizational behavior, budgeting and finance for healthcare, and economics for health care systems.
  • Nurse Educators are prepared for a range of healthcare education and leadership positions. Not all Nurse educators teach in nursing programs; many fill jobs where they work with nursing departments to provide in-service and continuing education programs, or they may be employed in patient care settings where they act as educators for individuals and groups with complex and disruptive illnesses.

The online nursing program offers working professionals a unique opportunity to gain the career advantage they want, with the flexibility to study according to their own schedule. Outside of this convenience, though, adult learners respond more readily to specially designed curriculum that delivers more relevant and applicable skills.


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