Which MSN track should I take?

  1. I want to go to grad school asap, but I can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone about which tract to take. I don't want to teach, don't want to be a practitioner, and don't want to be anyone's boss. I want to go on to my my PhD or DNP and work in research. Possibly be a nurse scientist. But I am having trouble understanding how any of these tracts lead to that, and I still have to pick one.

    Super confused, Help.
  2. Poll: Which MSN tract will I benefit from the most with the goal of a Doctorate?

    • Education

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    • Admin

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    • NP

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  3. Visit GaryRay profile page

    About GaryRay, BSN, RN

    Joined: Jan '16; Posts: 155; Likes: 306

    3 Comments

  4. by   llg
    There are 2 questions you need to answer for yourself in order to determine your next step.

    1. What specialty/field do you want to be the focus of your research?
    2. What type of job do you want as a researcher?

    Those questions should determine your next step. Do you want to be a professor in a school of nursing? Do you want to be an expert in administration? Do you want to do research as a member of a Quality Improvement Department? Do you want to work for a technology company or drug company and do research for them? etc. What type of career do you want? For what type of employer? and perhaps most important, what topics will be the focus of your research? People don't just become "researchers." They become "researchers about their specialty." So, what do you want to become an expert in? What specialty do you want to focus on for the majority of your career?

    If you want to be a university professor ... then an MSN in education makes a lot of sense. If you want to focus on health care systems, the nursing workforce, etc. then adminimstration makes sense. If you want to focus on the care of a certain kind of patient, then something more patient-care focused makes sense (such as an NP role, CNS role, or CNL role).

    First you become on expert in a field ... then you add a PhD to focus on learning the research skills. A few programs take the student directly from BSN to PhD (with the MSN content built into the early stages of the program to build the student's expertise in the field they are going to research) So ... what field do you want to be an expert in?

    Oh ... and there are a lot of other MSN choices other than the ones you listed if you are willing to go online. For example, there are MSN's available in the management of clinical trials ... or in Quality Improvement ... etc. Was there a reason you limited your survey choices to only 3 options? There are dozens of possibilities.
    Last edit by llg on Jan 9
  5. by   GaryRay
    I've been picking co-workers brains for over a year, yours is the first answer that was helpful.

    I just graduated from UT Arlington. I thought the application process would be easier if i stayed there. It's really hard to get references from instructors when you went to school online and you never met any of them. Even the person that was grading my papers wasn't an actual faculty member and they can't write references. I'm also a travel nurse so unless I want to ask a supervisor from a job I had years ago I really don't have any long-standing professional references either. I have references that some of the charge nurses have written for me but it's still not very substantive since I never work in one place for more than 3 months.
    It also keeps me from having to take the GRE I'm dyslexic so I don't test well. I do well in school because I can write the crap out of papers.
  6. by   llg
    Perhaps your first big step should be to establish a good professional reputation for yourself by staying in one place for a while -- getting involved in their activities, establishing professional relationships along with a track record of performance in some of the more advanced aspects of nursing to demonstrate that you are ready for graduate-level work. Giving yourself that strong foundation along with a network of people who can give you references could be a great help to you.

    It would also help you to confirm your choice of career direction. For example ... if you think you want to work for a university ... do you like teaching nursing students? How will you know that if you never work with students or orientees? To know that, you need to be a preceptor, serve on a unit education committee, etc. Do you want your future research to focus on evaluating the quality of care delivered? or developing new/better ways of caring for certain types of patients? Then start doing that type of work by participating in quality improvement projects -- something that traveler's rarely do.

    Before you jump to "step 5" on the career ladder ... take you time to do a good job of steps 1, 2, 3, and 4. Those steps help you explore different options to discover what really fits you well and what just "looks good on paper." Those steps also give you some basic skills in the areas that you will need when you try to work at the MSN, DNP, or PhD levels. Those steps also help you develop the profession network of people (supports, mentors, references, etc.) that will be able to help you achieve your goals.

    Good luck to you

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