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What are the graduate-level education options open to an experienced RN with a BSN?



Dear Donna,

I’m an RN with a BSN working as a staff/charge nurse for a telemetry unit. I want to further my career by going back to school, but I need suggestions on what to pursue as there are way too many options.

Wants to Further Her Career

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Further Her Career,

There are several options for pursuing graduate education for someone with your background. If you plan to major in nursing, which is advisable if you want to stay in the clinical setting, there are NP or CNS advanced practice tracks. Another option is getting an MSN and specializing by studying to work as a clinical nurse leader, in administration, education or other areas of interest.

If you’re interested in advanced practice, talk to other APNs in specialties you are interested in pursuing. Then, move forward to gain the education required. If you’re interested in an MSN but not advanced practice, go with the major that has coursework and curriculum that is most interesting and exciting to you. It doesn’t really matter the area of concentration. What matters is that you get the degree.

If you don’t plan to stay in the clinical area, your options are even more broad. You might pursue an MBA (although there are combo MSN/MBA programs), health information technology, public health, communication and so on. Again, go with the coursework and a curriculum that is most interesting and exciting to you.

There is no one right or better degree. Read “How to get back to school” ( and move toward your goal.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’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 and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.

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