Masters in Nursing Practitioner
There are four traditional specializations in advanced practice nursing. When the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree was defined it included specialization in nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse midwife. There are many subspecialties and additional categories today, but these four choices remain the core fields of study for a master's in nursing. The Masters in Nursing Practitioner is an option that has become very popular among RNs with ambition and medical ability, offering a quantum leap in career options and not incidentally, annual pay. Nurse practitioners are today a fixture in most medical practices of any size, in theory working under the supervision of a physician but in many cases, acting as autonomous primary medical care providers by seeing patients, making diagnoses, providing treatment, and writing prescriptions.
A Masters in Nursing Practitioner (NP) degree usually is offered with several areas of specialization that include Adult NP, Family NP, Acute Care NP, Pediatric NP, Women's Health NP, Neonatal NP, and several others that are combinations such as Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Larger schools offer additional options. Today a nurse practitioner can select a field of practice in the same fashion that physicians select a field of expertise after completing the first four years of medical school. And in fact starting in 2015 most nurse practitioner programs will result in a doctorate: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Today however the Masters in Nursing Practitioner remains an attractive option for working nurses who would like an advanced credential to help them move ahead in their careers. There are increasing numbers of online programs for this degree, despite the fact that a nurse practitioner student must usually complete 500 hours of supervised clinical hours. Schools of nursing are becoming comfortable with supervising a clinical practicum from a distance, probably because their students are already successful working nurses. There are RN to MSN programs for the Masters in Nursing Practitioner, which are available to nurses who have not completed a bachelor's degree. They are offered as compressed programs that combine the element of a BSN not included in an associate's degree or a diploma, with the master's level education that leads to an advanced practice nursing degree.