8 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an MSN ProgramBy David Thompson, UniversityHerald Reporter
Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is perfect for any nurse looking to advance their career. It's the surest way to get specialized skills for positions with greater responsibilities in the healthcare sector. An MSN degree offers you a chance to specialize, helping build expertise essential in the face of the healthcare system's changes where nursing professionals are increasingly pushed into responsibility positions to relieve doctors of workload. It enables you to attain the minimum requirements to teach in a nursing school.
An MSN widens your employment opportunities while raising your pay scale. Also, it exposes you to the healthcare setting's managerial and administrative techniques, making it easier to qualify for leadership roles. You should be careful when picking your MSN program to maximize your advanced credentials. Discussed below are eight mistakes to avoid when selecting an MSN program.
1. Not researching the program's accreditation
Researching an MSN program's accreditation status guarantees you're enrolling in a recognized and legitimate learning institution. Failure to investigate may cause you to earn an uncredited MSN degree, meaning the program lacks proper oversight or authorization. Such degrees might not be valuable for advanced learning opportunities or the job market. Also, uncredited programs are provided by institutions that haven't met accreditation standards or undergone the evaluation process.
Accredited MSN programs are offered by colleges that have been assessed and approved by recognized accrediting bodies. When choosing an MSN program, such as the MSN CNL program, you should research to ensure it's accredited. This helps ascertain that your preferred program meets specific education standards, student support services, faculty qualifications, and more. With an accredited MSN degree, you're assured that potential employers will acknowledge your degree.
2. Ignoring MSN program requirements
Every MSN program has unique qualification requirements that you must meet for consideration. Ignoring such requirements may result in rejections from your desired program or disappointments. While MSN program requirements differ by learning institution, the following is a list of the major, common requirements:
• BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing): Most MSN programs require incoming learners to have a BSN. Nonetheless, some fast-track or bridge programs allow students to register with a bachelor's degree in other fields or an associate nursing degree.
• Minimum GPA: Many graduate schools have a preset minimum grade point average for admission.
• RN license: Most MSN programs need applicants to have RN licensure. Others prefer students with work experience, but this may not be the case in each school. For fast-track programs that accept candidates from other disciplines, RN licensure isn't a requirement.
• Test scores: While all MSN programs may not require test scores, some request applicants to submit MAT or GRE scores.
• Other requirements: Additional application requirements may include recommendation letters, essays, transcripts from attended institutions, resumes, and more, depending on the schools and desired MSN program.
Checking these requirements and ensuring you meet all of them increases the possibility of being accepted.
3. Neglecting program ranking
Upon finding an accredited program, consider checking the program's ranking. An MSN program's reputation significantly impacts your earning potential and career opportunities. Employers usually give more value to MSN degrees from highly regarded colleges. Also, having a reputable program on your CV can open doors to many nursing opportunities.
When looking for an MSN program, consider its ranking, as they come in handy when comparing various institutions and MSN programs. These rankings evaluate schools based on academic reputation, graduation rates, and research output. They make it easy to choose the right MSN program, particularly when comparing two or more programs.
4. Not checking the specializations offered
MSN programs are created differently, with each offering different degree specializations. Overlooking a program's specializations can be costly. If you have a particular area of interest or career path, select a program that provides the specialization you require, including:
• Forensic Nursing
• Nursing Education
• Specialized Populations
• Clinical Nurse Leader
If you want indirect patient care, opt for MSN programs with education, research, or nursing leadership specialties. The programs will get you ready for positions like:
• Public Health Nurse
• Nurse Researcher
• Nursing Administrator
• Nurse Educator
5. Ignoring the program's flexibility
Most MSN programs offer hybrid, part-time, and fully online. As such, you should pick a format suitable for your professional and personal life. A fully online nursing school is perfect if you're looking for the flexibility to acquire your degree as you work. This allows you to access your coursework at any time, no matter where you are, and at your convenience. Alternatively, a hybrid MSN program delivers coursework on-campus and online. It's a perfect solution for in-person interactions with instructors and peers.
6. Not checking clinical placement considerations
MSN programs have several clinical rotations whose experiences are essential to building the skills, confidence, and knowledge you need to advance real-world practice. These rotations happen at approved clinical sites under a preceptor's supervision. However, finding preceptors and clinical sites on your own isn't easy, as the process can be competitive, time-consuming, and complex.
As such, you should choose a program that offers clinical placements. This will help ensure you concentrate on coursework and maximize your MSN education. A program with clinical placement services minimizes graduation delays and saves you time so you can focus on learning.
7. Failure to check financial aid options
MSN programs aren't cheap. Failure to consider all the program's costs and financial aid options can result in financial stress. Financial aid can help finance your MSN education, especially if you cannot afford it. When selecting a program, consider the financial assistance available for MSN learners you may qualify for, including:
• State grants
• Federal loans
• Private awards from the institution
Also, carefully planning your finances can help ensure you complete your MSN program without being overburdened by debt.
8. Not comparing MSN programs
Settling on the MSN program you come across first without comparing it to others is a grave mistake. This is because various programs have different weaknesses and strengths, and a program suitable for someone else may not be ideal for you. Listing the MSN programs you desire and comparing them based on accreditation, location, curriculum, specializations, costs, and other factors to make an informed choice. This can help you find a program that aligns better with your preferences and goals.
Picking the wrong MSN program can negatively impact your career's success. However, avoiding these mistakes can help you find the most appropriate MSN program.