CNS or RN degree? - Advice needed!

  1. 1
    Hello--I am a pre-nursing student faced with a tough decision and I would like some input from experienced nurses before I make the decision. I can apply to either ADN program to be an RN or to direct entry MSN program to be a CNS. I like the idea of becoming a specialized nurse as a CNS but I am somewhat unsure about the job market of CNSs compared to RNs. I would imagine it would be much easier to get a job as an RN than a CNS? Also, as someone who has not been a nurse, what is it like to complete a 3 year program and work as a CNS along with RNs with years of experience? Seems like you might need lots of experience before you become a specialist, but these direct entry degrees says in 3 years I'll be a CNS. I would appreciate if anyone can provide some real experience on this before I make the daunting decision. Thank you.
    futurernjap likes this.
  2. 22 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    Well, I'm an adult health CNS (since 2006) and a nurse since 1992. A CNS by definition is an expert in a certain specialty or population base. How does the school meet this goal?
  4. 0
    I am not really up on this situation. I always thought that part of the process of obtaining the CNS designation included X amount of paid experience to accompany the education and test requirements. I know that there are direct entry MSN programs that grant the degree and I believe that coming out of such a program would not provide much of an edge in the job market if one has no experience to market. JMT
  5. 0
    Quote from traumaRUs
    Well, I'm an adult health CNS (since 2006) and a nurse since 1992. A CNS by definition is an expert in a certain specialty or population base. How does the school meet this goal?
    This program is for those who have degrees in non-nursing areas and first year you study to be an RN and two years after you study CNS areas. I am considering Psych/Mental health NP program too (gain alternative program for those who have no nursing experience but with graduate degrees). My biggest concern is whether I could land a job readily after a degree with relatively little experience. I would imagine hospitals would rather hire less specialized RNs with less pay than specialized nurses. I would appreciate any information you may be able to provide. Thanks.
  6. 0
    Hopefully there will be some folks come along that have done this type of program. My concern, in this economy is that nurses of all levels are having a difficult times finding jobs. What is the job outlook in your area? Or are you free to move?
  7. 0
    Quote from traumaRUs
    Hopefully there will be some folks come along that have done this type of program. My concern, in this economy is that nurses of all levels are having a difficult times finding jobs. What is the job outlook in your area? Or are you free to move?
    That is my main concern too. I am in Austin, texas and I am not willing to move. Getting an advanced degree like CNS and NP would limit my employabilities, wouldn't it? I just did a search in a local newspaper. A lot of jobs came up under RNs but only one under NP. I guess I could work as an RN even with an NP licensure?
  8. 1
    There are several discussion threads here about APNs working as RNs after they get licensed as an APN:

    http://allnurses.com/nurse-practitio...bs-417071.html

    Is a CNS in TX an advanced practice nurse? By that, I mean, do they see pts, treat pts, write scripts, like a NP or are they a "change agent" or educator or work in some other non-clinical way?

    That might affect your job opportunities too.
    Newbie7 likes this.
  9. 1
    Many thanks traumaRUs. I read your blog and your life story is very inspiring. I feel more certain about what I should do now. Thanks again.
    traumaRUs likes this.
  10. 3
    i'm a psych cns. i wouldn't have dreamed of practicing as a cns without having a few years of nursing under my belt. i just didn't know anywhere near enough about the real side of the work to be competent in doing it.

    there are oodles more rns than cnss. in general hospitals where i've worked, there would be 0-1 cns per specialty area and rns filled all the other jobs. in psych hospitals there were no cnss and a few general nps who did historys and physicals and monitored medical treatment. in private practice, with a doctor, you might be the only cns or np with him or her while there would be a few rns and maybe a few other staff members. lots of places don't have cnss or nps at all. you could call places near you to see if they have people in those jobs or not.

    also, while you might get a cns through your education, to get the ability to bill for your services (or to have your facility bill for your work, to medicare and other insurances), you often have to be certified as a cns, and that doesn't happen without work experience, so doing the work your degree would qualify you for might not be possible.

    on the other hand, if you are a cns, you surely can work as an rn, but, you will be held to the standards of a cns, which are higher. it's not necessarily a legally safe position to be in.

    i think you'd do well to get an rn, work awhile, and then go for the advanced degree if you decide you want it, maybe in an rn-msn program.

    finally, being a psych cns can be very similar to being a psych np. it all depends on where you work. i don't see an advantage of one over the other.
    Last edit by Whispera on Oct 2, '09
    futurernjap, traumaRUs, and Newbie7 like this.
  11. 0
    Quote from whispera
    i'm a psych cns. i wouldn't have dreamed of practicing as a cns without having a few years of nursing under my belt. i just didn't know anywhere near enough about the real side of the work to be competent in doing it.

    there are oodles more rns than cnss. where general where i've worked, there would be 0-1 cns per specialty area and rns filled all the other jobs. in psych hospitals there were no cnss and a few general nps who did historys and physicals and monitored medical treatment. in private practice, with a doctor, you might be the only cns or np with him or her while there would be a few rns and maybe a few other staff members. lots of places don't have cnss or nps at all. you could call places near you to see if they have people in those jobs or not.

    also, while you might get a cns through your education, to get the ability to bill for your services (or to have your facility bill for your work, to medicare and other insurances), you often have to be certified as a cns, and that doesn't happen without work experience, so doing the work your degree would qualify you for might not be possible.

    on the other hand, if you are a cns, you surely can work as an rn, but, you will be held to the standards of a cns, which are higher. it's not necessarily a legally safe position to be in.

    i think you'd do well to get an rn, work awhile, and then go for the advanced degree if you decide you want it, maybe in an rn-msn program.

    finally, being a psych cns can be very similar to being a psych np. it all depends on where you work. i don't see an advantage of one over the other.
    thanks whispera. your post is very informative.


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