As a graduate student studying nursing, there is a chance that you need to complete a certain amount of work experience for a Master’s in Nursing. Not all nurses working in the field today have a graduate degree, but that degree is usually necessary for those interested in working in administrative positions and those hoping to work in private practices. Most nursing programs give students the options of selecting a concentration as well.
What are the Prerequisites for a Master’s in Nursing?
Earning your Master’s in Nursing requires that you have a bachelor’s degree in a medical or nursing field. While nursing programs may award graduates a certificate, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or a doctoral degree, you need to work your way up through each stage. While there are stages to progress through, you can skip the certificate and associates level and start with earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Admission into advanced nursing degree programs will require evaluation of grades you received in your undergraduate courses, letters of recommendation that you submit and any experience that you have in the nursing field.
Do You Need Work Experience?
Whether or not a program requires work experience for a Master’s in Nursing depends on the individual program. While not all programs require that graduate students have nursing experience, many programs prefer that nurses work in the field for at least three to five years prior working on an advanced degree. Gaining some work experience can give you a better understanding of what nurses do and what specialization you may want to pursue. Depending on the concentration that you choose, you might find that you need at least one year of field experience before working on your graduate degree.
Why Attend Graduate School?
You can work as a nurse without going to graduate school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for registered nurses working in the United States is $31.48 an hour or $65,470 a year. The nurses making the highest salaries are those who have a high level of experience and those who attended graduate school. Going to graduate school can also help you form professional relationships with the doctors and nurses working in local hospitals, which can lead to job opportunities later.
As a graduate student studying nursing, you often have the chance to pick a concentration. You will take three or more courses relating to that concentration, and many schools will let you take an internship relating to that concentration too. A family health concentration focuses on treating the family unit and working with both children and adults, while an acute care concentration might focus on the skills needed to work in an emergency room, urgent care center or another short-term care facility. Depending on where you earn your degree, you may also have access to concentrations in critical care nursing, pediatric nursing or clinical care nursing.
Nurses provide patients with treatment and care between appointments with doctors or before a doctor examines a patient. Working in the field before gaining your graduate degree can help you gain a better perspective and more experience. Whether you need to gain work experience for a Master’s in Nursing after you complete your bachelor’s degree depends on the prerequisites of the program you choose.