Earn an MSN and forge a path toward advanced specialization




For individuals with a passion for helping and healing others, the nursing field offers exciting and fulfilling opportunities for every level of education, such as the MSN.

RNs with BSNs fill a number of different positions including administrative roles, unit leaders, nurse managers, etc. Nurses looking to advance their careers even further can do so by earning a master’s in nursing degree, which opens up even more doors of opportunity in nursing.

Why invest in a degree? Currently, there is a pressing need for trained and highly educated registered nursing practitioners. The American population is aging rapidly, and healthcare organizations across the nation need nurses to help care for our increasing senior population pools.

More than 234,000 dedicated care providers in the U.S. have chosen careers as nurse practitioners, and many of these medical professionals have earned graduate degrees in additional specialized nursing disciplines.

According to a fact sheet published by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 62.4% of advanced nurses work in family medicine. Adult NPs, the second largest nursing discipline, represent roughly 16% of all practitioners. Nearly half of all NPs have earned hospital privileges that allow them to deliver treatment with varying degrees of autonomy and without direct physician supervision, depending on state laws.

Why take the next step toward an MSN?

After gaining experience in the field, nurses often find a specialized niche that suits their professional interests and overall nursing goals. To claim an advanced position within a specific medical niche, nursing professionals often choose to pursue an MSN degree. MSN programs can culminate in students earning accreditation in one of several disciplines or specializations. Depending on the nurse’s interests, skills and passion, specializations for an MSN degree can include:

Pediatric nurse practitioners — These medical professionals work within a range of settings to deliver positive treatment outcomes in primary care, emergency and multidisciplinary environments. Depending on the setting, pediatric NPs can earn an average of $85,309 per year, according to Payscale.com.

Family nurse practitioners — Often performing many of the same duties as family physicians, family NPs treat and diagnose conditions and prescribe medications for patients of all age groups. Family NPs currently earn $89,043 on average.

Women’s health nurse practitioners — These care professionals specialize in optimizing women’s health and using gender-focused practices for services such as health evaluations, preventive medicine and other medical treatments. Women’s health NPs earn an average of $86,000.

Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners — Advanced care nurses who specialize in adult-gerontology care deliver treatment using practices that cater to characteristics specific to the needs of adults and older patients. Payscale.com reports that female nurses who have earned a GNP certification can expect salaries between $76,888 and $114,453 across the U.S.

Oncology certified nurse practitioners — These practitioners work with populations that are at risk for cancer by testing individuals and groups for the condition as well as treating those who have received a cancer diagnosis. Oncology nurse practitioners can expect to earn an average salary of $101,232 annually.

Nurse educators — Experienced nurses who are committed to teaching the next generation of nursing professionals teach evidence-based practices that allow nurses to assist in delivering positive treatment outcomes to individuals, families, groups and communities. Nurse educators earn an average of $72,020 annually.

American consumers benefit from the advanced knowledge and experience of NPs when receiving healthcare services. Nurses can pursue their desired specialization with fervor and passion while meeting the American need for more nurse practitioners. Nurses with a passion for specializations such as neonatal care, gerontology and other areas can earn their MSN while working, continue to grow within their profession and fulfill an important role in today’s healthcare system.

Editor’s note: Content provided by Regis College Online Nursing, which offers MSN and NP programs.


Courses Related to ‘Advanced Education’

60081: Advanced Practice Nurses: Educational Pathways for the APRN Role (1 contact hr)
This module provides an overview of the advanced degrees for nursing graduate education and focuses on seeking higher education for the clinical role of the advanced practice registered nurse as a nurse practitioner. It also identifies barriers and resources available for pursuing graduate education and other essential considerations.

60050: Earning Degrees By Distance Education (1 contact hr)
Advancing in the nursing profession, and in some cases even maintaining a current position, may require a return to academic education. Returning to school can be daunting for adult learners. Balancing work, family, and traditional classes feels like an impossible burden. These factors make distance education a viable, a desirable, and often the only alternative. This module will provide nurses with information about obtaining academic credentials through distance education.


About the author
Sallie Jimenez

Sallie Jimenez 

Sallie Jimenez, who is Content Manager for Healthcare, develops and edits content for OnCourse Learning’s Nurse.com blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She also develops content for the OnCourse Learning/Nurse.com Digital Resource Guides. She has more than 22 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.

2 responses to “Earn an MSN and forge a path toward advanced specialization”

  1. Hi Sallie, Isn’t it true that a NP now requires a Doctorate Degree? -I thought having a MSN no longer was the case since 2014 or so?

    • Hello Clara,
      Thank you for your question. According to my research, the AACN endorsed doctoral-level preparation for nurse practitioners. However, most states still require a master’s degree or graduate degree to obtain licensure and do not specify a DNP requirement for NPs.

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