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I'm enrolled in an MSN program, but not sure which specialty I want to pursue. Any advice?

Friday April 26, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have my BSN and for many years it's has been a goal of mine to pursue an MSN. I've worked more than 10 years as a primary care nurse in acute care settings. I'm enrolled in a program, but I'm still not sure which direction to take. Being an adult/geriatric nurse practitioner interests me, as does leadership, administration and public health. I have to choose soon and I don't want to waste any more time waiting for the right path to become clear. Do you have any advice for a working mother who wants help narrowing the options?

Growing Old Waiting to Decide

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Growing Old Waiting to Decide,

Many nurses agonize over which major or degree to pursue. What's important is that you get the degree. Your actual area of focus is less important and will not restrict you going forward. There are nurses with varying graduate degrees working in all specialties and work settings, and with various titles and levels of positions. Any of the specialties you mention above have broad applications.

First, you have to decide whether you want to be an advanced practice nurse. That takes a certain level of commitment, not only to the educational and clinical component you will have to complete, but also to elevating your nursing practice to a whole different level.

Any master's degree you decide to get will serve you well. Therefore, look at the course work and curriculum for the majors you are considering and choose the one that is the most interesting, exciting and attainable to you.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.