Graduate Degrees in Nursing

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What Goes Into a Graduate Nursing Degree Program?

If you have a passion for helping others, then there is no better profession for you than nursing. To become a registered nurse, you only need an associate or bachelor's degree in the field to qualify for the NCLEX-RN examination. However, for those who desire more independence in their nursing career, earning a graduate degree would be ideal. Obtaining a master's or doctoral degree in nursing will allow graduates to take on more health care responsibilities and duties, such as diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medication, and generally doing everything that a physician might do and basic level registered nurses are not allowed to do. In a graduate nursing degree program, students will take courses in anatomy, communication, theories of nursing, and nursing practices. These are similar to the topics covered in an undergraduate nursing program, but graduate programs will be much more in-depth in order to impart nursing expertise in the field. Unlike an undergraduate degree program in nursing, many graduate programs do not require internships for degree credits. Instead, most graduate programs will only accept nurses who have been working in the field for some time. Check with your prospective school for more information on the prerequisites to enter into a graduate nursing program.

What Jobs Can Graduate Nursing Degree Holders Get?

Those with graduate degrees are known as advanced practice nurses. Due to their expertise in the nursing and health care profession, they are allowed more responsibilities than basic level registered nurses. For example, while basic level nurses must work under the supervision of a physician, advanced practice nurses can essentially take on the role of the physician. In some states, advanced practice nurses may even be allowed to open their own health care facilities independent of a physician's. Higher ranking nurses are in demand because it is more affordable to hire an advanced practice nurse for general health care than it is to hire a physician, so many patients and health care facilities seek out qualified advanced practice nurses. Nursing is the largest sector in the health care industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and that will remain the case for years to come. This is due to the increasing need for health care professionals to handle the growing elderly population. Those who wish to give back to the community could also work as nurse educators, for which you need a master's or doctoral degree. There is a shortage of nursing educators in the country, so pursuing this path will provide you with ample job opportunities. Many nursing educators also work part-time as practicing nurses.

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