Demands in the healthcare industry are expanding the roles of nurses and nurse managers around the country. Today, nurse leaders and managers promote innovative changes in patient care and develop skilled and versatile nursing teams. Leaders in the nursing field with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) are eligible to continue their education and professional development with a master’s degree in nursing leadership. Similar to health care administration studies, nursing leadership degrees teach the necessary skills for managing and operating medical facilities and staff.
Why a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree in nursing (MSN) with a specialization in leadership teaches advanced principles of nursing and business. The skills acquired in these programs are not only marketable to employers; they are essential to developing quality healthcare services and facilities. Nurses who graduate from MSN leadership programs typically seek employment in middle and upper management roles of hospitals, clinics, and medical centers.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
In order to apply to a master’s program in nursing leadership, a candidate must have a current, unencumbered RN license and a BSN. A full list of typical requirements for MSN programs in nursing leadership includes the following:
- A BSN from an accredited college or university
- Official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities showing the desired GPA
- A current RN license with no restrictions
- At least one year of work as a practicing registered nurse
- Professional and/or academic references
Inside a Master’s Degree Program
The curriculum of a master’s degree program in nursing leadership covers healthcare policies and regulations as well as professional ethics and legal standards. Students will learn advanced research techniques and will become familiar with advanced nursing theory. As future business leaders, students learn the concepts of management and how they apply professional nursing practice. Moreover, as future visionaries and thought leaders, these nurses will use their first-hand experiences and insights to create and support better healthcare practices.
Master’s degree programs usually require 30 to 40 credit hours and typically take two or three years to complete. Working professionals have many different options for earning an online nursing leadership masters. Before graduating with a master’s degree in nursing leadership, a practicum is usually required. Similar to an internship, a practicum allows students to gain work experience in their field while being evaluated by an appointed supervisor. These capstones promote professionalism among graduates and expose students to the daily tasks of their future careers. An online nursing leadership program will generally contact local medical facilities to place students in a practicum within commuting distance.
What’s Next for Nursing Leadership Master’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of master’s programs in nursing leadership are positioned to assume roles as healthcare managers or health service managers. Common jobs for graduates include nursing executive, nursing faculty director, chief nursing officer, head nurse, and director of nursing. Working in administrative roles, these professionals strive to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare services. They also manage the business aspects of their departments and are required to communicate across many different departments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics quoted the average annual salary for health service managers at $98,460 in 2012.