Advice Please- MSN, no specialty?

  1. 0
    Hello all! First post, long time lurker.
    I am currently dying to start graduate school. Problem is I'm not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up, so I decided I'd just earn an MSN and not choose a specialty. Problem is, find a Masters in Nursing program where you don't have to declare Education, Administration, NP, CNS, CRNA, etc. is impossible!!

    I know I could wait to go to school, but I'm fine with having to go back for a specialty eventually. I'm at a point in my life where I can afford school and have time to do such.

    I wanted an online school, one with a decent reputation.

    Any suggestions on schools is greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone has such a degree, share your wisdom.
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  4. 15 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    Sorry, graduate nursing school doesn't really work like that.

    Personally I wouldn't fork over the thousands of $$ if I didn't know what I wanted to do...seems like you need to do some soul-searching here.
    S.N. Visit likes this.
  6. 0
    If you really don't know what you want to do, spend some time shadowing or interviewing people in these different areas. If you are thinking of doing an FNP or working in community health, you could also volunteer in a community clinic to get an idea of what that would entail. You can't start an MSN program without a specialty - the entire curriculum is based on that specialty that you choose. And some of them want you to have specific experience in that area (i.e. Acute Care NP would probably want you to have acute care experience, a CNM program would require you to have some labor and delivery experience, etc.; this is not always the case).
  7. 0
    Quote from babyRN.
    Sorry, graduate nursing school doesn't really work like that.

    Personally I wouldn't fork over the thousands of $$ if I didn't know what I wanted to do...seems like you need to do some soul-searching here.
    I respectfully disagree.

    I am planning on going into a MSN/CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) program next year. CNLs are prepared as advanced generalists. If you look at curriculum and the CNL white paper (gigantic job description), it is about 1/3 clinical, 1/3 leadership, and 1/3 mentorship education. There are online programs out there. It is NOT an advanced practice preparation, so if you are looking to diagnose/prescribe, then not for you.

    FYI the job prospects are not stellar as the role is new and still in the implementation phase in most areas. The VA system uses them extensively but they are the only ones that I know of for sure in the Midwest that do (I work for them, so this works for me). Other areas of the country might be different. However, having an MSN is always going to give you more opportunities. I can't imagine that you wouldn't be able to get a job in management or education with it, or other upper level nursing positions.

    Anyway, something to think about.
  8. 0
    Also just an FYI to babyRN -- all DEMSN students have either "generic" MSNs when they graduate or they have a CNL focus.
  9. 2
    Quote from missbecky2006
    Also just an FYI to babyRN -- all DEMSN students have either "generic" MSNs when they graduate or they have a CNL focus.
    That's not accurate -- there are plenty of "direct entry" MSN programs for non-nurses that prepare people in an advanced specialty. My grad school (which I attended as a traditional, experienced-RN student, not a direct entry student) offered only clinical specialty MSNs in the direct-entry program -- no "generalist" option. The "generalist"/CNL option is a recent development.

    It is certainly safe to say that the future prospects for the CNL role are "iffy" at this point. No one in my entire region is using them (I follow the job postings in my area pretty closely, and I've seen exactly one posting for a CNL position in my entire region so far -- one, total). The CNL seems to be a model that was developed by academia (and I have my own little "conspiracy theory" about why ) without any great outcry from the larger healthcare community for Master's-prepared nurses at the bedside, and academia is having a hard time selling the "real world" healthcare community on the usefulness of the role.

    To the OP, I suggest that you're putting the cart before the horse, as the saying goes. You are going to put a lot of time, $$$, and effort into any MSN program -- you might as well make sure the degree you get is something you're actually going to want. Put some time and effort up front into figuring out where you want your career to go, and what degree you need to get you there. Best wishes!
    mzaur and babyRN. like this.
  10. 0
    The point is that she doesn't know what she wants to do...you have chosen to do a CNL program, which is a specialty, even if it's a generalized specialty into management.

    oh: and to say that DEMSN students don't have specialties is kinda silly because they're pretty much bread and butter to most programs...check out the MSN/DNP/PhD forum for more info.
    Last edit by babyRN. on Jun 30, '10
  11. 0
    A CNL is not a management track Masters. It is an advanced generalist/leadership prepared role. A CNL track will not pin you to any specific specialty area, which is the point I was trying to make. As far as options out there for "general" MSNs, that is probably as general as you can go. From what I have seen it is primarily an inpatient role although the white paper does state that they can be used in all practice areas, so at this point I would see you being pinned to a hospital, but not in an particular area necessarily.

    None of the DEMSN programs in my area can specialize. I checked the U of MN, I checked Marquette -- they both graduate and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX and that's it. I thought that was consistent everywhere. What programs let you specialize? Is that still current information? I am not aware of any direct entry programs that graduate NPs. I think in the past some of them graduated CNS's but I think that has mostly gone away too. Anyway, side tangent, not what the OP was asking.

    As far as the job prospects, I think it's hard to say you are going to for sure get a job in this market regardless of your Master's specialty unless you are willing to take what is available. Many CNS's and education people (MSN prepared) have been laid off in the Twin Cities area. They were the first to go when the economy tanked. As some posters have mentioned, it may very well be wise to think about your educational track if you want an MSN of any kind and not jump right in. If you change your mind on what you want to do 1/2way through, grad credits are an expensive thing to waste.
  12. 1
    Quote from missbecky2006
    None of the DEMSN programs in my area can specialize. I checked the U of MN, I checked Marquette -- they both graduate and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX and that's it. I thought that was consistent everywhere. What programs let you specialize? Is that still current information? I am not aware of any direct entry programs that graduate NPs. I think in the past some of them graduated CNS's but I think that has mostly gone away too. Anyway, side tangent, not what the OP was asking.
    Also not wanting to go too far off topic , but, since you asked, here is a listing, from a quick Google search, of some (probably not all) direct entry programs that offer a variety of specific advanced practice concentrations (NP, CNS, CNM). While I can't vouch for the listing information of every single school on this list being current, I'm personally aware of quite a few of the programs and know that the information for those schools is accurate:

    UCSF, CSU-LA, Azusa Pacific U, U Conn, Yale, Georgetown, Emory, U Of Hawaii, UI Chicago, U of So. Maine, Boston College, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Northeastern U, Regis College, Simmons College, Grand Valley State U, Columbia U, U of Rochester, East Carolina U, Case Western Reserve U, Ohio State U, U of Cincinnati, Oregon Health & Science U, Thomas Jefferson U, Vanderbilt U, UT Austin, U of Vermont, VA Commonwealth U, Seattle U, and U of Washington.

    I know that, while Duke does not have a formal direct-entry MSN program, it does offer an "ABSN-MSN pathway" that is basically the same thing (you go directly from the ABSN into the MSN program), and which offers a wide variety of advanced practice clinical specialty concentrations. I'm sure that there are other schools that do the same thing, that don't turn up on a search or listing of specifically direct-entry MSN programs.

    I'm not sure where you got the info that Marquette does not offer a clinical specialties within its direct entry program. Here's what the Marquette website says (today) about their program:

    "Marquette University College of Nursing
    Direct Entry MSN
    The master’s program for non-nursing graduates is designed for those individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees in fields other than nursing and who wish to become nurses. The program builds upon the student’s broad educational preparation and provides an intense, accelerated, and specialized nursing curriculum to meet the student’s career goals. Students complete the nursing requirements and meet the BSN program objectives in an intense 15-month pre-MSN phase. Students are prepared in the MSN program for advanced nursing practice roles in: acute care, adults, older adults, pediatrics (acute and primary care), clinical nurse leader, health care systems leadership or nurse-midwifery. ... Graduates will be academically eligible to take the appropriate certification examination administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or other specialty certification body."

    (Oops -- forgot to post the link the first time around: http://www.marquette.edu/nursing/Aca...an_28_2010.pdf Here is the link, too, for the general list of direct-entry programs across the US and what specialties they offer: Direct Entry MSN (Masters in Nursing) Programs Sorry! )


    The idea of a "generalist" MSN is a pretty recent invention, even among direct-entry programs. Direct-entry programs offering an advanced practice specialty role concentration have been around for decades, and I've only been hearing about "generalist," non-specialized direct entry programs over the last several years.
    Last edit by elkpark on Jun 30, '10
    mzaur likes this.
  13. 1
    I would wait. What if you picked a specialty and decided that was not what you wanted? Might as well wait and you can do it part time while you work. Get some experience in and shadow around so you can kind of see what you like before you go dropping tens of thousands of dollars on a program.

    Better to wait and know what you want than to go for it now and regret it.
    Faith213 likes this.


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