A typical online Master of Science in Nursing program is designed to provide students with a well rounded background in clinical practice techniques, skills, and concepts. An online MSN program curriculum usually features specialized MSN courses that also equip graduates with the advanced technical skills needed to promote overall patient wellness. By enrolling in MSN courses that bolster critical professional skills, nursing professionals can set themselves on the path towards achieving their nursing goals.
Skills, Concepts, or Opportunities an MSN Degree Can Provide
MSN programs offer students the opportunity to develop a variety of skills, while also exploring a range of different academic concepts and theories. Here are a few of the skills, concepts, or opportunities that students may encounter when enrolled in an MSN program.
- Communication. Producing positive health outcomes often requires collaboration among an interdisciplinary team of health professionals who rely on one another for information. Although some advanced practice nurses operate more independently than their less experienced peers, communication is always integral to succeed as a nurse. This means nurses must learn how to convey information in an optimal way—whether through face-to-face conversation or by using indirect means of communication, such as instant messaging or medical charts. By honing their communication skills through MSN courses, advanced practice nurses can ensure that all of their collaborators have substantial information about a patient.
- Leadership. Nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers must work together to secure positive patient health outcomes. Keeping healthcare facilities productive requires guidance from the leaders of each unit and department as they work together to treat patients. MSN graduates might qualify for nurse management occupations, which feature administrative responsibilities. Even outside of administrative roles, MSN graduates must be capable of leading their colleagues and, in some instances, their patients.
- Recording Data. The more information a nurse can gather about a patient, the more effective he or she can be in treating that patient. By sharpening their ability to track patient data, educated nurses ensure that they will be able to routinely identify important changes in the conditions of their patients.
- Attention to Detail. If a nurse misses an important detail regarding the condition of a patient, the outcome could result in pain or discomfort for the patient. Therefore, a keen level of attention to detail can prove to be advantageous for a senior nursing professional.
- Ethics. Ethics are defined as moral principles that govern a person’s conduct. In a medical profession, ethical practice is essential to maintaining patient safety. Without a thorough understanding of ethical behaviors, a nurse may fail to adhere to the policies or regulations set by an employer or the government. This could have serious professional or legal ramifications, so nursing students must take the time to learn the importance of ethics.
- Analytical Thinking. Acute and chronic diseases often present themselves to nurses as puzzles that must be carefully solved in order to secure a positive health outcome. By thinking analytically, senior nurses can find the cause of a patient’s symptoms and devise a treatment plan. . This skill will also help nurses recognize when a treatment strategy is ineffective, thereby allowing them to reconvene with their colleagues to alter the initial treatment strategy.
- Patience & Endurance. In many cases, patients won’t exhibit positive health outcomes overnight. By actively developing their patience, nurses will be able to overcome the nerve-wracking experience of waiting for a certain treatment to bear results. In time, this patience will develop into endurance, which can be incredibly handy in faster-paced, high-stress healthcare environments, such as acute care and trauma units.
- Organizational Skills. Nurses often manage multiple patients, and they may be undergoing an array of procedures. In order to keep everything in order, an effective nurse needs to employ advanced organizational skills. This means learning how to prioritize responsibilities, take detailed notes, and manage time efficiently.
Common MSN Courses
The following courses are often offered for this degree. Although the specific course titles may vary depending on the university, MSN courses that touch on these subjects will likely help nursing professionals acquire some of the practical skills listed in the previous section.
Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Practice. As nursing has been formally studied in universities for more than a century, many fundamental theories have been developed to help define the ideal aspects of nursing practice. By completing a course that focuses on the theoretical aspects of nursing practice, graduate-level nursing students can expose themselves to the most prominent theories in the field. Through their assignments, they will learn how to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each theory, enhancing their understanding of nursing practice as well as their practical critical-thinking skills.
Leadership and Quality. Leadership and quality coursework can enhance students’ understanding of leadership as it pertains to the healthcare industry while also teaching them how to keep quality care and patient safety at the forefront of their practices. Graduate nursing students who hope to advance into nurse leadership roles can use such a class to learn how they can use executive leadership skills to ensure that their employees and other colleagues prioritize administering quality care above all else. Effectiveness in this area is highly rewarded in professional settings, as a competent leader will typically have more opportunities to advance his or her career into a senior administrative role in the workplace.
Healthcare Policy. Healthcare policies are guidelines that collectively act as the backbone of all healthcare operations. Administrators use them to coordinate operations, healthcare providers use them to plan treatments, and patients may use them as the basis for their expectations of how health services should be administered. Individual medical institutions often have a specific set of policies, but they are also written at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In a health policy MSN course, students can expect to learn how such policies interact with one another, as well as how they can impact the nursing community.
Advanced Health Assessment. The faster a nurse is able to correctly identify faults in a patient’s health, the sooner the nurse can help prescribe a reasonable treatment. Health assessment coursework is designed to heighten a nurse’s ability to evaluate a patient’s condition. This class should incorporate lessons that describe how to perform advanced patient assessment techniques, such as focused histories, detailed physical examinations, lab and diagnostic studies, and differential diagnosis.
Professional Role Development. To maximize their career opportunities, nursing professionals must continue developing their skills over the course of their careers. In a role development MSN course, nursing students should learn how they can set skill progression goals and achieve optimal patient health outcomes. These courses typically highlight topics such as patient-centric care, team leadership and collaboration, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. The objective of this area of study is to ensure that active nurses can effectively meet patient safety goals while remaining productive in their work.