Nurse Practitioner Vs. Master's Degree in Nursing

Nurse practitioner programs are often part of a master's degree program and prepare graduates to perform advanced levels of medical care. Those who earn a Master of Science in Nursing may focus on areas involving nursing administration, education and informatics.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners provide advanced clinical care to patients and are qualified to perform physical examinations, interpret X-rays, prescribe medications and treat various conditions. Specializations are available in adult practice, women's health, family practice, geriatrics and acute care. Other responsibilities that may be included are health behavior counseling, prenatal care, mental health and illness prevention.

Required Education

While students can complete a nurse practitioner program within a master's degree program, applicants can also enroll in a post-master's certificate program. Graduates of a nurse practitioner program are qualified to sit for the clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner certification examinations. While the core courses focus on a student's nursing concentration area, all nursing students need to learn about the following:

  • Research principles
  • Diagnostic assessment
  • Pathophysiology
  • Advanced pharmacology

Master's Degree in Nursing

Master's degrees in nursing often require two years of full-time study. Those enrolled in the program focus on administrative areas in nursing. Graduates are often qualified for management positions in nursing and make decisions regarding medical care. Opportunities are also available to focus on nursing education and work in university settings.

Required Education

Those enrolled in a MSN program with a business administration concentration take courses involving financial management, business planning, market strategy, health systems management, program development and leadership in health care. MSN programs with a focus in education require that students complete courses in curriculum development, issues in nursing education, teaching-learning strategies and assessment of student learning.

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