So confused on Masters of Nursing and/or specialties... please help!!

  1. Sooo many questions... sooo confused... and no one to help me!!

    I am an RN with an associates degree living in Los Angeles, California. I plan to move forward with my education and receive a masters degree. I am so confused on the differences between all the specialties!!

    I did complete my preceptorship at an ICU which I enjoyed!! So I was thinking of becoming a critical care nurse. Then I got thrown off with everything else (Nurse Educator, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Practitioner,etc).

    What are the differences between them??? Who earns more?? Is it harder to find a job as an educator or administrator? (I heard Nurse Administrator's have a hard time finding jobs). I've also heard that Nurse Practitioners are always overworked by the Dr.'s and they get paid less.
    Is the critical care nurse post masters? Is that a degree or certificate??

    I am so confused on all this!! Who does earn more? What are the pro's and con's?? Yes I have done my research on my own... but every site gives conflicting information/data. So I thought what better place to ask then allnurses!!

    Please do give me your opinions... it's really important to me!!

    I could not apply to UC's because they require 1 yr minimum experience which I don't have. Also, I couldn't get into the cal-state's because the deadline to apply was before I even passed my nclex. I don't want to wait a whole year just to apply plus another 5 years to receive my masters. So I thought about doing it online... like with Kaplan University for example. My teacher told me that it doesnt look good to be getting degrees from online. Is that true?? But it's Bachelors and Masters in like 3 years total!!

    Has anyone received a degree from online?? Any problems??

    Also, online only offers MSN in Nurse Educator or Nurse Administrator. Which one is a better pick?? I have no idea!! I love to teach but I like to manage and be a leader at the same time. Then from there, can I still go into critical care?? or NP??

    Does anyone know of even better programs in California??

    Thank you everyone for your time!!
  2. Visit SWE3TLILSHORTY profile page


    Joined: Oct '08; Posts: 9


  3. by   caliotter3
    Why don't you work for one or two years and let things percolate for a little while? Your preferences may clear up for you after you have some experience notched on your steth. Good luck deciding which path to follow.
  4. by   llg
    I agree with caliotter3. If you don't know what type of job interests you, then you are not ready for graduate school. Being a nursing administrator is very different from being an educator ... which is different from being a nurse practitioner ... or a clinical nurse specialist ... etc. You need to figure out what type of career/job you want before you can choose the type of education that will best prepare you for that "unknown" job.

    Explore the different roles available. Go to a healthcare library (either in person or online) and browse the journals that focus on the different roles. Which topics interest you the most? Do the journals about management and budget etc. interest you the most? Do you find the journals about nursing education the most interesting ? the nurse practitioner journals? etc.

    Also, I recommend getting involved in various committees and projects at your work. Be a Charge Nurse ... a Preceptor ... etc. These types of activities give you a chance to "try out" some of these roles at an introductory level. You'll get a clue as to whether or not you like teaching when you precept. You'll get a clue as to whether you might like management as you gain experience as a Charge Nurse. etc. Also, these activities help you meet people with whom you can network. These activities will provide you with opportunities to meet people in leadership roles in your workplace -- people from whom you can learn. You can learn about their jobs -- what they do, what education and previous experience qualified them for their jobs, etc. Develop a network of acquaintenances and colleagues with whom you can discuss some of these questions and from whom you can learn.

    Only after you have begun to develop a sense of what the different nursing roles involve and get a sense of which ones match your particular talents and interests will you be ready to choose a direction for graduate level education.
    Well thanks to the both of you but the thing about me is whether I'm in the field or not... I'm still an undecisive person until I hear pro's and con's from other Nurse Administrators themselves, or Nurse Educators themselves, or NP's themselves. I would ask them all this in person just as I would online. I knew I wanted to be a nurse at 16... I took all my prerequisites in high school thinking they counted and started all over again in college... I've worked in the hospital as a phlebotmist before nursing school so I did get the feel for it before I even went into nursing.

    but I want to get married already and have kids... and I want to finish ALL of my education before doing so... I can't balance diapers and schooling and job like other people do. I can only juggle 2. So I am going to pick something now. I just can't decide what.

    That's why I posted on to get feedback and input...

    As I stated earlier... I already have done the research myself... but I want to hear from those who actually have their masters in it speak about pro's and con's. I would love to be a NP!! But I heard they get less money and are worked like dogs by the doctors. I've seen an NP get treated bad at one of my rotations, whereas I've seen good at different hospitals. I'm paying $30,000-$60,000 online so I do want to make sure that I get payed more so I can pay off all those loans. So which of the 3 makes the most??? Its an important question to know that I cant understand why everyone hesitates to talk about.

    I want to be a clinical nurse specialist... as i stated earlier I luved ICU.. I know what I like and don't like just through rotation... I have no more time to wait... Id like to get started... so if you guys have masters or post certificates please do reply!!

    I have been tutoring ADHD kids for a long time. I love to educate I love to teach. At the same time, I love to be a leader and be in charge of managing. So I love both fields just unsure of what to do???

    Afterwards... I want to get my clinical nurse specialist certificate... but does it make a difference what I earn my masters in?? See none of the advanced nursing practices were covered in our nursing class. I have tried asking my professors and they just made things more confusing.
  6. by   talaxandra
    There's a reason why most places require a minimum of a year's experience before allowing entry into post-grad courses.

    Regardless of which direction you go in, there will be positions where you're respected, well treated, appropriately remunerated... and positions where that isn't the case.

    That's why other members have suggested you look into the actual details of each role and develop a feel for which resonates best with you. Watching and talking with other nurses is useful but will be strongly influenced by the experiences of those individuals, which may distort your percetion of the roles as a whole.

    I certainly understand the need to look at salary and other factors, but I believe work's too big a part of life to do something you don't enjoy, if you have the option.

    Finally, five years seems like an awfully long time for a Masters - mine took two years each, and I'm doing a PhD in five. I know many things are different in the US but I suspect they're not that different.

    Good luck.
    Well things are different here in California. For example... I have my ADN and am planning on receiving my BSN AND MSN in 2 1/2 years. It's an accelerated program... but that's why you pay a bunch of money to take it online so you could finish faster and work at the same time.

    Again, I have looked into all fields. But I'm SURE there's little things here and there that ONLY NP's or Nurse administrators and/or educators can tell me personally that will NOT be written or found over the internet. For example... I've heard with Nurse Educator you can go to public health and become a speaker there on the health system in general. Which is something I have a lot to say on.

    I like to get ALL the information before I chose something. I have done my research and am obviously still confused. I like all fields. I just don't know which one I like MORE!! That's why I'm trying to get everyone's opinions... and telling me to wait or look into it later is not helping me any... and its not answering my question either.
  8. by   talaxandra
    Quote from SWE3TLILSHORTY
    I have looked into all fields. But I'm SURE there's little things here and there that ONLY NP's or Nurse administrators and/or educators can tell me personally that will NOT be written or found over the internet...
    I like to get ALL the information before I chose something. I have done my research and am obviously still confused. I like all fields. I just don't know which one I like MORE!! That's why I'm trying to get everyone's opinions... and telling me to wait or look into it later is not helping me any... and its not answering my question either.
    There are also hundreds of little things you can't possibly now unless and until you actually work in the role, in the same way that school didn't prepare you for every aspect of the actual practice of nursing. In addition, I suspect few if any members are going to be prepared to invest the time and effort involved to comprehensively explain their perceptions of each pro and con in their role.

    It's just not possible to get all the information beforehand, and if you don't know which role you prefer there's absolutely no way strangers on the internet will know for you. Plus, unless you're more amazing than any nurse I've yet met, you have only the most superficial understanding of what's involved in an advanced practice role at any level, because it's only possible to get the nuances and breadth of that with more than a year of experience.

    Which is why the members who've posted thus far have all recommended you wait a little. So far that's everyone's opinion, even if it's not the answer you want. But maybe someone'll come along, prove me wrong and post a perfect career map for you. Good luck.
    Last edit by talaxandra on Jul 14, '10 : Reason: typo
    excuse me but did i say i'm the most amazing nurse??? please show me exactly where i wrote that!! correction: every nurse is amazing!!!

    first of all our school had well over 850 clinical hours in 2 years. plus a 72 hour preceptorship at the end. my dad's a physician my moms a biochemist. i already know the feel for the field because i've volunteered countless hours with them since way before high school. so i have met all of them and am still confused thats the point your missing!! plus i worked as a phlebotomist before nursing school in a hospital. i've grown up in hospitals. i speak my mind.. i don't sugar code... if i want to know who earns more than that's what i'm going to ask straight out. i'm not asking for any negativity!!!

    i'm not asking for everyone to come and tell me their perception of every single pro and con...

    but a few pointers from actual professionals wont hurt either!!!

    who are you to tell me i have superficial understanding of the field?? you just have trouble understanding what people are really asking for!!! i'm afraid to know how you deal with your patients now... do you misunderstand them too???

    i do believe someone can prove you wrong!!!...

    are any members ready to prove talaxandra wrong????
  10. by   talaxandra
    Please don't shout at me.

    My training program had over 4,000 clinical hours over three years; eight relatives were nurses, one a dentist, three doctors, one a physio - and none of that increased my understanding of advanced practice roles, because a lot of nursing clincal practice is applied knowledge, in addition to theory, and can only be gained through experience. Which is why I said that unless you were more amazing than any other nurse I'd met, less than a year of clinical experience is insufficient to have a strong grasp on the nuances of advanced practice roles.

    Who am I to say this? I'm a Clinical Nurse Specialist with over twenty years of acute care experience at a tertiary referral hospital. You say you don't sugar coat, but you don't want negativity, which makes it difficult for me to respond further. However, though I've clearly written posts you disagree with, I have not attacked you, I have not maligned you, and I am not interested in creating an adversarial discussion. I'm sorry that you seem to be taking my advice personally, and am happy to leave the floor to other members, who may well have different advice, or from whom you may be more comfortable hearing.
    Last edit by talaxandra on Jul 13, '10
    Ok well sorry but I did take it offensively and that's why I responded. So it was miscommunication on my part.

    Ok so since your a CNS... how long did you go to school for? Its a post masters right? And what did you get your masters in?? If I wanted to chose CNS... would it matter whether I chose masters in education or administration?

    Paywise... I think CNS earns more than or very close to NP's? But CNS & NP's definitely make more than Nurse Educators/Administrators because their both post masters right??

    Is the workload much heavier? Why did you chose CNS?