The role of nursing has dramatically changed over the past 50 years. Nursing has evolved over the years to include not only clinical patient care where a diploma from nursing school was all one needed to enter the profession. As hospitals grew into health systems and doctor's offices became physician groups, nursing also grew into specialties.
Traditional two year nursing schools have evolved into a blend of clinical and academic education with colleges and universities offering Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Colleges and universities, recognizing the nursing shortage in the U.S., have developed online degree programs designed to appeal to the working RN who wants to transition to an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) by obtaining a MSN degree.
Best Medical Degrees has ranked 30 Most Affordable Online MSN Degrees as a guide for nurses wishing to advance their educational and professional careers.
Board Certified Nurse Practitioners are qualified to provide primary care in hospitals, physician clinics, public health agencies, schools and private companies. Nurse Practitioners are qualified to take patient histories, perform physicals, diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases, order tests, prescribe medications, educate and counsel patients. Depending on the state of residence, there may be limitations on what Nurse Practitioners are allowed to practice. As with most healthcare professions, there are several Nurse Practitioner specialties.
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
This Nurse Practitioner provides short term care for patients in emergency departments, free standing clinics and mental health facilities.
Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
Working in community and outpatient clinics, health systems and physician offices, the Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner cares for older adults. These nurses assess, diagnose and treats common medical issues.
Family Nurse Practitioner
In collaboration with physicians, the Family Nurse Practitioner provides patient assessment and treatment in hospitals, physician groups and outpatient clinics, etc.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
Specializing in the care of newborns and infants, the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner provides general and critical patient care, typically in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICU).
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are able to treat children and adolescents in a wide variety of settings, providing wellness checks, treatment of illnesses and disease and injuries.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Working with people with mental needs, the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner treats patients, family members or specific community populations. These nurses may prescribe medication, therapy and case management in a variety of settings.
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
Sometimes known as OB/GYN Nurse Practitioners, these nurses care for a variety of women's issues such as physical exams, treatment for gynecological illness and education.
Certified Nurse Midwife
Several schools offer a MSN in Nurse Midwifery, allowing board certified nurses to work in hospitals, obstetrician and gynecological offices and assist in prenatal care, labor and delivery.
These MSN nurses are qualified to assess educational needs, develop programs and present educational materials to families, patients or other healthcare workers.
Clinical Nurse Leader
Nurses with a MSN concentration in Clinical Nurse Leadership are responsible for creating patient health plans, leading teams and processes and implementing quality assurance and, often, evidence based practices.
A MSN prepared Nurse Administrator, sometimes called Nurse Managers, are responsible for the nursing staff supervision in a hospital, clinic or other healthcare facility.
This is a relatively new field in which MSN prepared nurses who are capable of assessing technology needs, determining requirements and conducting training and customizing systems for optimum functionality.