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Master's Entry vs. Accelerated Bachelor's

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by b00p b00p (Member) Member

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I was wondering if anyone has any insight on choosing between a Masters Entry Clinical Nursing (MECN) program and an Accelerated Bachelors in Nursing (ABSN)? MECN is a 2 year program vs. ABSN being only 12-15 months. Both will grant an RN license at the end of it, but the MECN program also offers the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) cert, which I hear isn't very useful until you have years of experience as a bedside nurse anyway? 

Although I would love to go on and get a Master's instead of getting a Second Bachelor's (so I don't feel like my 1st degree is going to waste & that I'm not backtracking to get another Bachelor's), I find it hard justifying doing the Master's just for an RN. I'm also confused as to how I would go about trying to become an NP or an advance practice nurse down the line if I'd already have an MSN. Would I do a post-master's certificate or would I have to do a whole other Master's program for NP

Any thoughts? 

Edited by b00p

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26 Posts; 221 Profile Views

This is such a great question. Thank you for posing it so well. Can't wait to hear the answers.

Thanks all!

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50 Posts; 1,026 Profile Views

I'm actually going through the same dilemma! I don't want to waste my current Bachelor degree, but the MSN component is much more pricier. 

I think for me, the selling point of a Direct-Entry MSN is that I am an RN, MSN, and a CNL (or NP if the program allows it). At least I'm not backtracking on my B.S., but I'm also working towards high education, which has always been my goal.

If you do become an MSN-CNL, then you would need to do post-masters training to get an NP; but some schools offer a direct entry MSN-NP component, so it truly depends on the program itself. 

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Ohm108 has 0 years experience as a RN.

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The various nursing pathways can get kind of confusing but echoing @hakutai839 if you do a MSN-CNL, you will need to go back and complete a post-masters program in order to be considered an NP.  You will normally be able to skip the 3Ps and the basic nursing classes and go straight into your specialty areas of study.  At this time a CNL is not considered an APRN.  There are only 4 recognized APRN roles currently and they are CNS, NP, CNM, and CRNA.  So you can be an MSN but not an APRN but you can't be an APRN without having an MSN if that makes sense.

It also depends on whether you have decided which area of specialization that you would like to go into.  Normally, if you want to become an NP, you have an idea what area and population that you would like to work in.  If you do not, then it might be a good idea to obtain your ABSN and work in various areas within nursing to decide which area you want to specialize in before going through an APRN program.

As for deciding between a MECN or an accelerated bachelors program, my understanding is that they are both accelerated just that one will grant you an MSN and the other a BSN.  Both will be fast-paced and will require that you assimilate a large amount of information in a short period of time.  Understand this and have this mindset before going in will keep you from being surprised by how fast the program progresses.

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@hakutai839 yes!! Exactly my dilemma in that the MSN is more costly both in tuition and time (in which I could be working as an RN sooner with an ABSN). I guess there are more pros with the ABSN, but I can't seem to let go the idea of getting an MSN-CNL instead of backtracking for another bachelor's. 🙁 

I'm wondering if there are any advantages of having an RN, MSN vs. RN, BSN? I'm fully aware that all new grad RNs (ADN, BSN, MSN) are paid the same when they first start, but I'm wondering if there are any advantages or disadvantages of having an RN, MSN during the initial hiring process...  

@Ohm108 I think the MSN-CNL is a general program? Like we don't have to specialize in any populations or anything, so I would theoretically graduate the MSN program, get my RN license, and work a couple of years as a bedside nurse before pursuing the APRN! In my mind, both the MSN-CNL and the ABSN grant the RN, with the MSN just offering the additional cert of CNL (which isn't that useful as a new grad anyway??). There are just so many different pathways to getting the RN, so it gets so convoluted in my mind. 😵 I'm also applying to an ADN program close to home as well, so if I get into that program, I'm in for another big dilemma... 

The particular MECN I got into is a 2 year program, so I don't think it's as accelerated as a regular 12-15 month ABSN. I'm wondering if it's worth it to pay more for a slower-paced program than to do a really fast program like an ABSN... 

 

But anyway, thank you for both of your insightful responses!! Giving me a lot of good points to consider! 

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Ohm108 has 0 years experience as a RN.

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Yes, as a MSN-CNL you don't have to specialize which was my point.  If you don't know what area you want to specialize in then getting your CNL first and working for a few years might be a good path for you.  In terms of speed I would say it is relative.  Yes, it isn't as fast as an ABSN program or a Master Entry APRN program but at the same time, they are molding you into a nurse in 2 years when a traditional BSN program takes 4 years.  You are also given some training in process improvement while in your program but that varies depending on the program.  I think if you do a search online for CNL they outline what the role of a CNL entails.

Based upon my understand and my own research, a MSN-CNL is not quite a general program.  It is a general program in that it helps you obtain your RN since you haven't been a nurse before.  But it also takes longer than an ABSN program because as a clinical nurse leader, you are also involved with process improvement initiatives on the unit in addition to being an RN but more so from the patient side.  The nursing side and the more technical elements are usually handled by the CNS who are very competent technical specialists who have been a nurse for many years and would have experience with their hospital's systems.  That was how it worked in the hospital I volunteered at before I joined my nursing program.

I pulled the following from the AACN website:

The Clinical Nurse LeaderSM or CNL® is a master’s educated nurse, prepared for practice across the continuum of care within any healthcare setting. The CNL was developed by AACN in collaboration with leaders from healthcare practice and education to address the critical need to improve the quality of patient care outcomes.

The CNL is a clinical leader - at the point of care – who focuses on:

Care Coordination

Outcomes Measurement

Transitions of Care

Interprofessional Communication & Team Leadership

Risk Assessment

Implementation of Best Practices Based on Evidence

Quality Improvement

Edited by Ohm108

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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1 hour ago, b00p said:

@hakutai839

The particular MECN I got into is a 2 year program, so I don't think it's as accelerated as a regular 12-15 month ABSN. I'm wondering if it's worth it to pay more for a slower-paced program than to do a really fast program like an ABSN... 

Don't let the length of the programs mis-lead you.   The MECN is probably longer because you are taking graduate level courses in addition to your undergrad courses.   That will cost you time and money up front to get those graduate-level courses done now.   But taking those courses now might save you time and money later if you decide to get a graduate degree later.

Which is better?   A lot depends on the quality of the specific programs/schools and what your educational and career path will be later.   Depending on what you decide to do later, taking those MSN level courses may not help you at all  ... or may save you time and money later.

I recommend choosing "what feels right for you" now ... with an understanding that you might feel differently later ... but you are willing to live with the consequences of whatever you decide.

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I feel like everyone's pretty much explained it well. There are a million ways to do it.

One thing to consider is the extent to which you can pay for it - you will get much less government aid for the ABSN since it is not considered graduate level study and you may have exhausted your undergraduate aid during your first bachelors, whereas for the MECN you will get more funding. In either case you may not have time / be allowed by the program to work, so unless you have money lying around for living expenses and whatnot it may be more realistic to shoot for the MECN. I also know I want to go on to become an FNP so getting an MSN in the least amount of time makes sense - will go and do a post-master's certificate program at some point after for the FNP. If you are unsure about what you are looking for after you become an RN or if there is even a next step beyond that, I would do ABSN to not waste money on a grad degree. This is MY dilemma and really informed my decision to pursue the entry-level Masters! Maybe your situation is different. Best of luck! 

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dirtyrice: I appreciate your feedback. This is the same dilemma I am in, particularly as the decision window is trickling down to responding to schools by March. I am looking to pursue a DNP degree, so I am just trying to verify, in multiple sources, if having a BSN/ MSN will make a difference to be a more marketable applicant for a DNP program & also ,if it makes the pathway more concise, to go from MSN to DNP...
I'll be glad to share whatever I find out too!

15 minutes ago, dirtyrice said:

I feel like everyone's pretty much explained it well. There are a million ways to do it.

One thing to consider is the extent to which you can pay for it - you will get much less government aid for the ABSN since it is not considered graduate level study and you may have exhausted your undergraduate aid during your first bachelors, whereas for the MECN you will get more funding. In either case you may not have time / be allowed by the program to work, so unless you have money lying around for living expenses and whatnot it may be more realistic to shoot for the MECN. I also know I want to go on to become an FNP so getting an MSN in the least amount of time makes sense - will go and do a post-master's certificate program at some point after for the FNP. If you are unsure about what you are looking for after you become an RN or if there is even a next step beyond that, I would do ABSN to not waste money on a grad degree. This is MY dilemma and really informed my decision to pursue the entry-level Masters! Maybe your situation is different. Best of luck! 

 

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@Ohm10, do you know specifically what type of employment a CNL can have? I know they get their RNs so I assume hospital work, but what exactly does it mean to have a "nurse leader" cert? Does it mean you work less on the floor, and more in administration/ leading different teams or does it just depend on the job?

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34 minutes ago, letsbringhealth said:

dirtyrice: I appreciate your feedback. This is the same dilemma I am in, particularly as the decision window is trickling down to responding to schools by March. I am looking to pursue a DNP degree, so I am just trying to verify, in multiple sources, if having a BSN/ MSN will make a difference to be a more marketable applicant for a DNP program & also ,if it makes the pathway more concise, to go from MSN to DNP...
I'll be glad to share whatever I find out too!

 

Glad I could offer some useful perspective, LetsBringHealth! Sounds like a great plan you have there. Admittedly I am not as familiar with the DNP since I don't really have any interest in it and just figuring what the heck to do about BSN / MSN first has taken so much energy lol! I did not know there are any entry-level DNP programs, my (limited) impression was that you do actually need a BSN or MSN first and then you may do either a BSN/DNP bridge or MSN/DNP bridge.. 

I would maybe first identify the program(s) that may suit you best and then build your plan around it. If you know there's a DNP program you really like but they are a BSN-DNP bridge maybe get the BSN first. May not hurt to work as an RN for a while before pursuing the DNP too! In any case I'm not a nurse just yet so I'll let the vets advise you from here. Hope that you find what will work best for you 🙂 

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15 minutes ago, dirtyrice said:

Glad I could offer some useful perspective, LetsBringHealth! Sounds like a great plan you have there. Admittedly I am not as familiar with the DNP since I don't really have any interest in it and just figuring what the heck to do about BSN / MSN first has taken so much energy lol! I did not know there are any entry-level DNP programs, my (limited) impression was that you do actually need a BSN or MSN first and then you may do either a BSN/DNP bridge or MSN/DNP bridge.. 

I would maybe first identify the program(s) that may suit you best and then build your plan around it. If you know there's a DNP program you really like but they are a BSN-DNP bridge maybe get the BSN first. May not hurt to work as an RN for a while before pursuing the DNP too! In any case I'm not a nurse just yet so I'll let the vets advise you from here. Hope that you find what will work best for you 🙂 

Oh, I meant to say I am looking to do a BSN or MSN first, as DNP programs do seem to require BSN/MSN prior to admission, so, just to clarify, I have not found any direct DNP programs...

Good luck to us!
 

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