Online Masters in Nursing: The Basics

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    Becoming a nurse is a rigorous and demanding challenge, but it can help you enter a very rewarding profession in which you can help a huge number of people. If you are passionate about caring for others and are interested in making that your career, being a nurse can allow for this to happen. You may be planning out your academic journey into nursing or already be well on your way. Either way, online msn programs can help provide you with the skills and knowledge to become a competent nurse practitioner in a range of specialties and fields.

    What is it?

    The online msn programs are masters of science in nursing programs that help you gain the clinical expertise to take your national licensing exams, become a nurse practitioner and prevent, assess, treat, and manage chronic and acute diseases. This course is for those who already have a BSN and are looking to progress to the next step in their nursing career. There are several application criteria that must be met, in addition to having a BSN, and these include holding a current, unencumbered license and a 3.0 GPA.

    The course can be completed in around 24 to 30 months, depending on your area of specialization, and there is a flexible study option that allows you to take a 1-week break after a 7-week course. The online msn programs are designed to be studied alongside your job and shift rotations, making it a flexible study option. Modules include Theoretical Perspectives for Advanced Practice and a Moral and Ethical Decision-Making residency.

    There are four different tracks to choose from that will allow you to specialize in a certain area of nursing:

    • Family Nurse Practitioner Degree, 30 months to complete
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Degree, 28 months to complete
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Degree, 28 months to complete
    • Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care, Nurse Practitioner Degree, 24 months to complete

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    What does it take to become a nurse?

    Nurses have a huge range of technical knowledge and skills, as well as personal traits and characteristics that help them succeed. As a practicing nurse, you may already have many of these skills, but they can always be developed, and online msn programs can help you do this. Some of the skills that are incredibly beneficial for all nurses to have, regardless of their position or specialty, include:

    • Stamina- nursing is a physically and demanding job. You will be on your feet for many hours, moving and lifting equipment and patients. Alongside physical stamina, you will also need to have emotional stamina as nursing can be a very emotional and pressurized career.
    • Empathy- this is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of other people in order to understand their emotions and feelings. You will be interacting with and treating a wide range of people, and you won’t have firsthand experience of every situation that presents itself. Therefore, empathy can help you connect with a patient and make them feel more comfortable. This relates to your emotional stamina, as it is important not to allow yourself to become too emotionally involved with your patients or cases. Doing this could have a negative impact on your work and yourself, and it is, therefore, important to find that balance.
    • Commitment to Patient Advocacy- as a nurse, you will be an advocate for your patients, especially those who are disadvantaged or vulnerable. Making sure the rights of your patients are protected, keeping their best interests at heart, keeping them safe, and providing the highest quality of care are some of the core beliefs on which the Hippocratic Oath
    • Willingness to Learn- medical technology and theory is always changing, so you will need to be willing to learn and adapt throughout your career. Even if you hold a nursing position that is high up and have many years of experience or qualifications under your belt, you still need to be willing to learn new techniques and theories in order to constantly be providing the highest levels of care to your patients.

    How do you become a nurse?

    Becoming a nurse requires a lot of training and dedication, and the certifications and qualifications you need will depend on the kind of nurse you want to be. It can help to have some idea of the direction you want your career to go in when you are training because this will allow you to prepare and take the necessary steps to reach your nursing career goals. In order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), you will need to complete your early education or pass your GED, followed by a BSN, ADN, or possibly a vocational nursing program. Then you will need to take and pass your licensing exam, which can vary depending on the state in which you are practicing.

    Once this has been achieved, you can consider your MSN, which will help you specialize in a specific area of nursing, opening up more career options and giving you a deeper education. Many nursing roles require an msn, so online msn programs are a great way to work towards this qualification while continuing to practice alongside your course. You could even decide to take your education and career further by completing a doctor of nursing practice.

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    What are the career outcomes?

    The online msn programs prepare you to work as a nurse practitioner in a range of settings and specialties. You would find yourself working in private practices, surgical hospitals, or home healthcare organizations. Different nursing careers and positions require different levels of licensure and qualifications, but an msn can open up many more doors for you, allowing you to work in different areas of nursing that were not accessible to you before. Here are just a couple of the potential career outcomes that you could encounter once your graduate.

    Nurse Practitioners

    In general, nurse practitioners provide a huge range of health care services and often specialize in chronic or acute illnesses. NPs can prescribe medication, diagnose illnesses, examine patients, and provide treatment, similar to physicians. In some states, NPs can even work independently, without the supervision of a doctor or physician.

    Family Nurse Practitioner

    FNPs treat patients of all ages and provide a range of health care services across all genders, diseases, and body systems. FNPs work in different settings, including hospitals, clinics, community centers, and telemedicine. As an FNP your daily tasks could include educating your patients, assessing them, prescribing medication, and helping to maintain and promote their health.

    Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

    PMHNPs can work as generalists or specialists, and are trained to offer a wide range of mental health services to individuals or groups. PMHNP tasks and responsibilities include assessing patients, making psychiatric diagnoses, and managing medication. Specialisms within this field can include working with adolescents and young people, psychotherapy, geriatrics, or forensics.

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    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    PNPs specialize in the care of children from birth to young adults. They focus on primary care, preventative health, growth, and development, as well as managing acute and chronic illnesses. This pathway of the online msn programs can help provide you with the clinical knowledge and skills to provide high-quality care to young people of all ages in order to help them grow into healthy individuals.

    Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care, Nurse Practitioner

    When it comes to AGNPs, there are two different types; primary care and acute care. The primary care pathway of the online msn programs focuses on individuals from the stages of young adult and upwards, who are not usually ill. The role of an AGNP providing primary care involves promoting and encouraging healthy life choices, with the aim of maintaining health. Other responsibilities include educating patients and caregivers, assessing the competence of caregivers, and managing the transition between different care settings. 

    Why study online?

    The online msn programs are taught through a combination of online and in-person learning. This means that it is an incredibly flexible and accessible study option, allowing you to continue working while you pursue the degree. The ability to work more at your own pace is a great benefit and can help you enjoy the experience and absorb information better. Having more control over your schedule and learning environment helps you develop healthy and positive learning habits that you can apply in the future, as you will know what style of learning and revision works best for you. As nurses are constantly learning, this is a very useful skill to have.


    Pursuing a masters can be very beneficial for your personal and career development, but it can also be very expensive. With online msn programs, some of the common costs associated with being a student are reduced or even removed. Students have to pay for a huge range of services and items, such as transport, accommodation, tuition, and educational materials, and this can make studying for a masters financially unviable. However, online courses can allow you to study from home, reducing transport costs and the need to find alternative accommodation on or near a campus. Furthermore, the tuition fees are often cheaper, and you can still be eligible for financial support, so it is worth looking into this. The ability to study alongside work also means that you can continue earning money and supporting yourself while earning your degree.


    Often, your location can dictate the institutions you can or cannot attend. If your local school or college does not offer the courses or levels of study you require, this can hinder your career progress, causing you to waste time and money on something that you don’t actually want or need. Furthermore, your local educational institutions may not offer a flexible study option like the online msn programs, meaning that you might have to make large sacrifices in order to pursue your dream career. Online learning means that you can have more control over your learning environment and location and can study more online. While there may be a combination of online and in-person teaching, just having the ability to do some of the work at home can save you time, money and stress, and make this a much more accessible option.


    Another way in which online learning can benefit you is by giving you the opportunity to develop valuable personal skills. Soft skills are a set of personal, non-technical skills that are transferable and can be applied to almost any job and working environment. There is a high chance you will already have many of them, especially if you are studying at masters level, but they can always be improved and developed. Soft skills include communication, creativity, problem-solving, time management, teamwork, and self-motivation, some of which are incredibly important for nurses.

    You can develop these skills when learning online without even realizing it. For example, you will have to be incredibly organized in order to complete your studies to a high level while working at the same time. This is a great practical example of a time when you have used this skill that you can give to employers in an interview setting. These soft skills are looked upon favorably by employers, as they help you thrive in the workplace and in many different environments.

    Becoming a nurse is an incredibly rewarding career that will bring you into contact with many different people, from patients and families to other medical professionals. You will be an essential part of healthcare teams and the lives of those you are helping. Nurses often provide a more holistic approach than some other medical professionals, looking at the other elements of the lives of their patients when they are treating them. This means they focus on the patient as a whole person, recognizing that they are not just their illness or condition. The online msn programs can help prepare you to work as an NP in a wide range of settings and roles, allowing you to specialize in an area that you are passionate about and want to make a difference in.



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