Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) understand the value master’s degrees bring to healthcare. As an advanced credential, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees distinguish nurses as specialists in their field and leaders in healthcare. When APRNs want to build on that achievement, they turn to post-master’s certificates to focus on new areas of specialty to further their expertise.
Experts agree APRNs must continue learning and growing in accordance with recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s (IOMs) landmark 2010 report that called on nurses to take on more substantial roles in healthcare. Nearly a decade after the announcement, nurses are continuing to meet the IOM’s challenge, thanks in part to online nursing programs that make earning the credentials more convenient and post-master’s certificate programs that allow for progressive learning opportunities.
Experts say post-master’s certificates provide value-added benefits to APRNs, including the following:
MSN degrees provide APRNs with a specialization in a single field of healthcare. With a post-master’s certificate, APRNs can add specialization credentials to increase areas of expertise. For example, Duquesne University’s School of Nursing offers post-master’s certificates as a family nurse practitioner (FNP), forensic nurse, and nurse educator. Once the certificate program is completed, students are eligible for formal certification by professional organizations.
2. Advanced Education
When the IOM’s report on the future of nursing was published, it was widely viewed as revolutionary because nurses were being asked to attain higher levels of education and practice to the fullest extent of their education and training. Since then, numerous healthcare organizations, including the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Nurses Association (ANA), have announced support of the recommendation because it aims to reduce the growing strain on the U.S. healthcare system.
Post-master’s certificates allow APRNs to meet the IOM’s challenge and further their education to alleviate the critical shortage of healthcare practitioners. With a post-master’s certificate, nurses advance their education and expand the breadth of their practice.
3. Improving the Healthcare System
Healthcare in the United States is facing unprecedented personnel shortages due in part to the growing number of nurses and primary-care physicians who are retiring. At the same time, changes to healthcare regulations and an increase in the incidence of chronic health conditions are taxing an already strained system.
APRNs with post-graduate certifications have the opportunity to prompt improvements to the healthcare system through their advanced education. With a graduate certification, APRNs enlarge their focus of practice to help patients overcome health challenges.
4. Personal Satisfaction
In 2012, the RWJF published a revealing look at why nurses go back to school, titled “Charting the Course for Nurses’ Achievement of Higher Education Levels,” and found personal satisfaction topped the list for continuing education.
Later studies have shown the same. In 2017, a study titled “The Importance of Continuing Professional Development to Career Satisfaction and Patient Care” found training and education were directly linked to career satisfaction. The study also found professional development and growth in practice encouraged personal satisfaction.
5. Educating Future Nurses
Faculty shortages across the nation are having a trickle-down effect on healthcare. Nursing schools are turning away qualified students because there are not enough educators. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found in 2016 nursing schools turned away more than 64,000 applicants to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to staffing shortages. At the same time, a wave of faculty retirements is expected in the coming decade.
Earning a post-master’s certificate as a nurse educator prepares students for the Certified Nurse Educator exam and a role teaching the future generation of healthcare providers. A graduate certificate prepares APRNs to be online instructors, college and clinical faculty members, and professional development specialists.
6. Helping Crime Victims
The work of a forensic nurse goes beyond medical care, although that is their primary focus. Forensic nurses are experts in the legal system, injury identification, and collect evidence. They help trauma victims and perpetrators (both intentional and unintentional) by documenting injuries, provide medical testimony in court cases, and provide information for follow-up services.
Earning a post-master’s certificate in forensic nursing prepares APRNs to sit for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification exam. Forensic nurses help across a spectrum of legal and scientific settings as nurse coroners, nurse investigators, and legal nurse consultants, among others.
7. Providing Care to Families Across the Generations
A decade ago, FNPs faced numerous barriers to full practice, including strict rules nationwide that required they be supervised by a physician and no ability to prescribe medication to patients. Today, states are easing rules on FNPs, allowing them to practice independently of physician oversight and prescribe necessary medications. FNPs are widely recognized for providing quality nursing care, in most cases equivalent to care provided by physicians.
Earning a post-master’s certificate as an FNP allow APRNs to sit for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC ) certification exams. FNPs work in retail clinics, physician’s offices, and independent practice to provide care for infants through the elderly, including prenatal care.
8. Flexible Online Study
Online education allows APRNs to advance their education and careers while continuing their personal and professional obligations. Online students work alongside nursing professionals for rigorous educational experiences and follow the same high standards as traditional post-masters certification programs.
Students who earn post-master’s certification through Duquesne University’s online program are fully prepared to enter the workforce and make positive changes for the future of healthcare.
Duquesne University’s Online Post-Master’s Certificate Program
Duquesne University’s online post-master’s certification program provides a variety of higher-education choices that allow APRNs to advance their careers further. Each post-master’s certification program represents an opportunity to better health outcomes for scores of people
Duquesne University has been lauded as a leader in online nursing education and recognized as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing. The University’s rich history of excellence in online education includes pioneering the first online PhD in Nursing program in the nation. For more information, contact Duquesne University today.