Advanced Nursing Degrees beyond a BSN

Nursing is among the most opportunity-rich professions you can choose. A vast range in settings and patient populations allows for those with a BSN to find the perfect nursing job. If you want to move even further up the career ladder, a variety of skilled career paths lay ahead, and advanced nursing degrees are your bridges to that path.

Nurse anesthetist

Referred to as CNRAs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports their national median salary is $154,390. Working primarily with anesthetist physicians, you administer and monitor the effects of drugs that allow surgeons to operate on patients. You are most likely to work in hospitals, but might also be found at dental practices, pain management clinics and podiatry offices. At least one year of clinical practice, two to three years of specialized education and certification as a CNRA are required for you to practice.

Certified nurse midwife

Referred to professionally as CNMs, nurse midwifery's focus goes beyond birthing babies. From family planning counseling through prenatal and neonatal practice settings, you take a holistic approach to maternal care. The BLS reports a median salary of $91,070, nationally. A Master's in Skilled Nursing degree and certification are required before you can practice as a nurse midwife.

Nurse practitioner

One of the most significant challenges facing the American healthcare system is the impending shortage of primary care physicians. Fortunately, nurse practitioners will fill part of the gap. Referred to as NPs or more commonly as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs), you have a broad understanding of disease diagnosis and treatment. Earning a BLS-reported median salary of $91,450 nationally, in many cases your work differs very little from general practice physicians. A Master's Degree in some clinical specialty, from geriatrics to pediatrics, to mental health and a host of others is typical, and states require licensure to a practice limited to the oversight of a physician.

Management, research and education

Experienced and highly educated nurses manage medical units and facilities. In most cases, a Master's of Science Degree in Nursing (MSN) is required. A multi-level profession, nursing management salaries depend on whether you supervise staff in nursing units, service lines or entire facilities. The BLS reports the median salary for "Medical and Health Services Managers"' is $84,270 nationally.   

Nurses make up the majority of their profession's education faculty, and most advanced teachers have an MSN or PhD, while nurse researchers usually have a PhD. Salaries vary; however, the BLS reports a median annual salary of $68,640 nationally.

Case managers are the bridge between patients and the complex world of diagnosis, treatment and healthcare finances. The hospital setting is where most work, although many others work with insurance companies and government. Currently, their median salary is grouped within the "Medical and Health Services Managers" salary data. Case managers help reduce costs, and as the healthcare system faces possible financial crisis and unseen changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act, advanced nursing degrees in case management will increase in both number and importance.

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Tags: LPN, nursing

Charles R. Hooper, MSW

About Charles R. Hooper, MSW

With over 20 years experience as a medical social worker and a master's degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I have been honored to dedicate most of my professional life to service in health care. I have worked in multiple medical/nursing settings, including cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, trauma care and others. I also founded the medical social work program at a regional trauma center and a very busy emergency department. View all posts by Charles R. Hooper, MSW →