Online nursing universities now offer master's nursing degree programs with a flexibility of schedule that is a distinct advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar schools. These master's programs, which can be typically completed in two to three years, are offered for numerous specialised nursing roles, such as nurse practitioner, nurse administrator and nurse educator.
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Advanced Practice Degrees
Nurses with advanced practice master's degrees earn an average of £6,760 more per year than registered nurses; therefore, many practicing staff nurses elect to specialise and further their nursing education. Drexel University's online nursing program offers advanced nursing practice degrees for aspiring nurse practitioners in women's health, acute care and psychiatric mental health. Other online nursing programs provide advanced practice nursing degrees in specialities such as acute care, gerontology and paediatrics, as well as midwifery and anaesthetist training. An advanced practice degree allows nurses to assume more clinical responsibility, often performing primary care tasks doctors have historically done, such as diagnosis of common illness, physical exams and ordering laboratory tests.
Online nursing master's degree programs also allow nurses to pursue careers in nursing and health care administration. For example, Gonzaga University offers an online nursing master's degree in health systems leadership, which prepares students to "to deal with the integration of health care delivery systems, technological innovations, an increasingly complex regulatory environment, restructuring of work, and an increased focus on preventive care." Curriculum for a nursing administration degree includes business courses, as well as biostatistics, complex systems theory, ethical decision making, health care law, advanced nursing research, organizational behaviour and leadership training. Graduates of an online nursing administration program are typically employed as head nurses, long-term care nurse managers, directors of nursing or chief nursing officers and find work at hospitals, HMOs, health insurers, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies.
Another career option for nurses pursuing online master's degrees is as nurse educators, a profession currently in high demand. According to Gonzaga University, "a 2007 study of nursing schools conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing showed that 71.4 per cent of respondents had nursing faculty shortages." Coursework for aspiring nurse educators covers adult learning, curriculum design and evaluation, clinical and classroom teaching technique, student learning assessment, use of technology in learning and teaching and preparation for the transition from the role of staff nurse to professor. Nurse educators work for trade schools, community colleges and universities or may focus on health care staff development in hospitals or lead community education programs.
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