5 Ways to Specialize an MSN Program

  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthetist

MSN students who advance their education and pursue nursing specializations improve not only their career opportunities but also their earning potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that registered nurses should see an employment growth of 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. Several factors contribute to the demand for registered nurses, including the aging population in need of qualified medical care and the increasing number of patients with chronic diseases. Those with specializations can hope for even better careers. Below are the top five specializations RNs can choose to improve their career options, according to Nurse Journal.

Related Resource: 30 Most Affordable Online Nursing Administration Degrees (MSN)

Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified nurse midwife, along with nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, are also referred to as advanced practice nurses (APRNs). To become a certified nurse midwife, a student must complete a nursing master degree program with a concentration in midwifery. Certification can be obtained through the American Midwifery Certification Board. Nurse midwifes often find career opportunities working with the aging population. Certified midwifes could see job growth of up to 31 percent by 2026, according to the BLS. Although certified midwives provide family planning services, the majority of their care goes to pregnant women as they assist them during the pregnancy and delivery.

Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses work in healthcare settings where patients are critically ill. With the increasing number of the aging population in need of qualified healthcare providers, many critical care nurses find work in nursing homes, retirement homes or healthcare facilities for the elderly. Many critical care nurses also work independently for elderly or critically ill individuals. They must also have experience working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Critical care nurses are expected to experience a very good job growth in the next few years.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners work alongside of doctors as the provide health care to patients. They work in hospitals, clinics, physicians' offices, outpatient clinics and almost any healthcare facility where you'd find a doctor. In many facilities, they work independently in the same capacity as a doctor and order lab tests or prescribe medication. The amount of duties they can perform may vary from state to state. They also often work with a specific age such as pediatric patients or geriatric patients. To work as a nurse practitioner, one must be an RN with several years of work experience and be licensed through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Gerontological nurse practitioners diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses as part of healthcare team. They may perform and interpret diagnostic tests as well as order them. They can also prescribe medication. They often work in hospitals but more often than not they work in facilities dealing with elderly or chronically ill patients. To work as a gerontological nurse practitioner, you must be a RN, obtain a nursing license, get experience working in a geriatric setting and obtain certification.

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists work in various medical setting including hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. They work alongside of licensed anesthesiologists preparing patients for surgery as well as during the actual surgical procedures. They may work on their own in certain cases where only local anesthetia is used. Nurse anesthetists help coordinate patient care and may also provide specialty care for certain patients. The amount of care the nurse anesthetist can do may vary from state to state. A Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in nurse anesthesia is what is required of these professionals now, but a Ph.D. may be required in the future.

RNs who complete not only the master of nursing program but also obtain certification in areas of specialization are putting themselves in good positions for successful careers. They're not only qualified to work in hospitals and clinics but are often chosen for special positions because of their additional training and experience. Aspiring nurses in an MSN program can choose any of the above 5 specializations, among many others, if they wish to widen the scope of nursing opportunities.