Nursing MSN & DNP

| 15 January 2020

The data in this blog is for general informational purposes only and information presented was accurate as of the publication date.

What Can You Do with an MSN?

nurse with a patient

In the dynamic world of healthcare, opportunities for nurses continue to expand. Graduate nursing degrees enable nurses to deepen their knowledge, hone their skills, and choose an advanced specialty. A masters of nursing degree (MSN) is a doorway for students to take on a role such as family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse executive, nurse informaticist, and more.

In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “What can you do with a masters in nursing?”. We’ll discuss how different MSN role specialties can lead to leadership and other advanced roles in your field. We’ll outline common MSN advanced degree and health science career paths, additional nurse practitioner programs and certifications that you can earn, and other resources for career advancement as one of the MSN nurses.

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MSN Roles in Leadership and Management

nurse in a leadership position

An MSN degree program with a role specialty such as Nurse Executive or Nurse Manager prepares budding managers with the skills they need to enact positive change in their organization. Demand is growing for nurse leaders: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18 percent growth in available jobs for medical and health services managers between 2018 and 2028.

Nursing leadership training is ideal for nursing professionals who are passionate about overseeing healthcare management or improving processes within their organization. This may include changing how the company manages patient care, improving its nursing administration and patient care procedures, or navigating new federal regulations. A nurse administrator or clinical nurse leader uses his/her communication and creative thinking skills to support staff development and adapt to the needs of a changing patient base. Common career paths include:

  • Chief nurse executive
  • Surgical nurse manager
  • Nursing supervisor
  • Clinical research manager

After completing their MSN program, nurses may also go on to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to gain even deeper knowledge about patient advocacy and strategies for effective leadership.

MSN Roles in Patient Care

Many nurses choose to earn their MSN degree with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialization. Nurse practitioners play an important role in improving the patient care experience. As an MSN-FNP graduate, you will partner with families across the lifespan to promote preventive care, diagnose conditions, and treat acute and chronic illnesses. The MSN family nurse practitioner’s responsibilities include taking patient histories, performing physical exams, administering immunizations, ordering and interpreting lab tests, prescribing medication and other therapies, providing family planning services, helping patients manage chronic health problems, and offering resources for healthy lifestyles.

FNPs work in a variety of outpatient and inpatient settings, such as:

  • Private practice offices
  • Community health centers
  • Rural health clinics
  • Hospital outpatient clinics
  • Occupational/employee health settings
  • Urgent care centers

MSN Roles in Technology

MSN roles in technology

With the expansion of digital medical recordkeeping, nurse informaticist jobs are on the rise. Nurse informaticists combine their knowledge of nursing with technical expertise in order to improve IT and recordkeeping processes in their organization.

By choosing a Nurse Informaticist role specialty in your MSN program, you can help bring your workplace into the future, enhancing communication and patient care through nursing research and the use of new information systems and mobile applications. These skills and qualifications can expand your career options, opening opportunities in community health organizations, local practices, hospitals, and clinics. Job titles may include:

  • Nurse informaticist
  • Nursing informatics specialist
  • Nursing informatics clinician
  • Clinical informatics coordinator
  • Clinical analyst
  • Clinical nurse informatics specialist
  • IT clinical nurse
  • Perioperative informatics nurse

MSN Roles in Education

Nursing professionals who have a calling to educate their peers, patients, and new medical students can choose to earn their MSN degree with a Nurse Educator role specialty. Nursing schools and healthcare organizations employ nurse educators to mentor, train, or teach in the classroom or onsite.

Available nursing educator jobs are predicted to grow 13.8% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the job titles a nurse educator can have are:

  • Nursing instructor/professor
  • Clinical nurse educator
  • Dean of a nursing school
  • Public health nurse
  • Continuing education specialist
  • Staff development officer
  • Administrative nurse faculty

Students who specialize in nursing education may also take on administrative roles within healthcare organizations, guiding staff training in tandem with hiring managers.

Making the Most of Your MSN

Some MS nurse education programs offer acceleration and self-paced options so that students can learn at the pace that best fits their life. Through post-graduate certificates, MSN students can add a second role specialty to increase their versatility and knowledge base.

What can you do with an MSN degree in some other way? As another way to boost your career growth, consider joining a student nursing association. Available for both undergraduate and graduate students, these organizations provide an immediate community of peers and great opportunities for networking and resource sharing.

Advantages of Completing a Master’s Degree in Nursing

More career options. You can choose the area of care you’re most passionate about, or you can explore non-clinical areas such as administration or technology. Investing in a nursing specialization can help you become a more skilled healthcare professional and make you a more attractive job candidate.

Work on more predictable schedules. You can use your MSN degree to show employers that you are qualified to take on management roles and lead a team. You can demonstrate your commitment to nursing and dedication to providing patients with quality care. An MSN degree can help you qualify to apply for management roles, which often come with greater control over your work hours and days. These roles also come with better salaries.

Acquiring evidence-based practice to provide the best possible patient care. This approach to practice allows nurses to assess the effectiveness of treatment plans and recommend changes to improve patient outcomes. It can also reduce medical errors, increase patient safety, and promote cost-efficiency in healthcare. 

Earning valuable, lifelong skills. The MSN program at the University of St. Augustine is designed to help you not only further your knowledge of clinical practice but also pave the way to a career in nursing leadership. Our curriculum enables you to explore new ideas and learn from master practitioners so you continuously gain new skills to stay at the forefront of nursing. Get in touch today to learn about a nursing program to advance your career. 

Behring, Stephanie. “What’s It Like to Work as a Nurse Informaticist?” Accessed: January 26, 2022

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Medical and Health Services Managers.” Last modified September 8, 2021. Accessed: January 26, 2022 “Nurse Educator Careers & Salary Outlook.” November 11, 2021. Accessed: January 26, 2022


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