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Exploring high-level nursing roles




The healthcare system is evolving and requires high-level scientific knowledge and expert practice to achieve the best patient outcomes. Advanced education in nursing is becoming more popular, with nurses wanting more influence and autonomy. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) qualification brings new career opportunities for nurses, such as becoming family nurse practitioners, midwives and educators. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) builds on the master-level programs and can lead to various career paths including health care executive, nursing faculty and clinical researcher. Studying at this level takes commitment and dedication and brings the rewards of greater job opportunities and a rewarding work role.

Considering advanced nursing courses

Both the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are graduate nursing degrees but differ in course length and student career goals. In general, the MSN degree has traditionally been for nurses who are going to specialize clinically, whereas the DNP has been for nurses looking for leadership positions. However, there can be an overlap in the types of careers followed by graduates from both degrees. Nurses from both programs are prepared by their courses to work in advanced practice, and there are opportunities to work in such roles as nurse educators and nurse leaders. The DNP is the highest level of nursing degree, and students are prepared through the course for advanced practice roles related to leadership, administration and the analysis of evidence-based research. 

Nurses who wish to deliver the most advanced nursing practice can progress from MSN to DNP by taking the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP); the highest level degree in nursing. Walsh University offers this clinically focused program, that prepares students for leadership roles where they can influence the future of healthcare. 

Both the MSN and DNP programs equip graduates with the skills used in nursing such as solving problems, triaging patients and being a leader. Both degrees offer the opportunity to explore more specialized fields of study than the broader education provided by a bachelor’s degree. The main difference between the MSN and DNP is that the DNP is the highest level of degree in nursing and it prepares nurses for the highest level of practice, particularly leadership positions. The MSN does cover some of the same curriculum as the DNP but is designed to allow nurses to qualify as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). For example, a nurse practitioner with an MSN degree may work as a critical care practitioner delivering bedside care, while a nurse practitioner with a DNP degree may deliver care while also leading a nursing team. The DNP prepares nurses for specialization while also offering additional career opportunities, such as becoming a healthcare lobbyist or clinical researcher.

The need for nurses with advanced skills 

The numbers of older people have increased and this has created a greater demand for healthcare services. More people are living with chronic diseases including arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, mental health conditions and cardiovascular disease. With the physician and nursing shortage, this means that advanced practice nurses are in great demand and play a significant role in primary and acute care. They make a difference in underserved communities, improving access to healthcare and advocating for better services. These nurses can provide some of the services offered by physicians as well as nursing care. With advanced degrees, nurses can provide critical healthcare services and meet the needs of diverse populations. They can improve access to healthcare and yield significant improvement in patient outcomes. Healthcare organizations need nurses with a specialized skillset to deliver quality care to patients and ensure health services are meeting population needs. 

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in detail

Pursuing an MSN degree brings new career opportunities for nurses in different settings. This degree program provides specialized education that can prepare students to become an APRN. Graduates have the knowledge and skills to participate in developing healthcare policies, providing advanced patient care and serving as leaders in the nursing profession. Students can focus on a master’s degree in a non-direct healthcare role – such as management, education or health information systems – or choose a direct patient care role through an APRN pathway which may lead to becoming a nurse practitioner. All APRNs must complete the MSN degree as well as certifications for their specialty. 

Nurses are taught to assess, diagnose and treat patients as well as manage their overall care. Specializations include pediatrics, adult gerontology, psychiatric mental health and family practice. The MSN program teaches skills that will be used every day in nursing, such as prescribing medication, making decisions and how to conduct a physical examination. The scope of practice can differ depending on the career pathway a student chooses to pursue. For example, a nurse midwife program teaches prescribing medication, deciding treatments, diagnosis, and caring for women and babies. A nurse practitioner program teaches direct patient care skills including prescribing medication, performing check-ups, and diagnosing and treating illnesses or injuries.  

The master’s program prepares nurses to work independently, but each state determines the scope of practice, including in relation to prescribing medication and deciding treatment options. Many MSN programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) and a current RN license. Programs can have different work experience requirements, but they typically expect at least one or two more years of experience. On average, the MSN program takes two to three years, including a clinical placement. Coursework covers clinical practice, management, social sciences, nursing informatics, physical science and advanced nursing theory. 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in detail

The DNP is a prestigious qualification. It provides an advanced nursing practice degree and it is an alternative to research-based doctoral programs. The DNP prepares nurse leaders for the highest level of nursing to improve patient care and use research to inform practice. DNP nurses may choose to specialize in one of many different fields and can potentially hold leadership positions. They can become nurse educators and use their specialized knowledge to teach nurses in college. They can also become patient advocates and guide patients through the healthcare system, ensuring they connect with the correct resources and their needs are met. In addition to these upper-level, specialized roles, a DNP degree can prepare students for some of the same roles as the MSN, including family nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist.

The doctorate builds on the MSN curriculum to develop competent and highly qualified providers in various fields. Graduates bring high levels of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to achieving quality patient outcomes. The DNP curriculum goes beyond master-level programs by including systems leadership, quality improvement, team management and evidence-based practice. DNPs play an important role in healthcare through direct patient care, organizational leadership and health policy implementation. This degree brings opportunities for expanded responsibility, research and clinical decision-making. Nurses prepared through the DNP degree gain advanced clinical skills and systems thinking, allowing them to take responsibility for individual and population health needs. The DNP qualification allows nurses to consider many career options, whether caring for a vulnerable population, mentoring other nurses or leading change in practice. 

The DNP program includes clinical experience and classroom instruction, allowing nurses to enhance their knowledge and skills, and provide high-quality practice. It can benefit nurses to gain experience as a registered nurse and complete the MSN before applying for the DNP. The DNP program can take as little as five semesters for full-time students and eight for part-time students. Nurses with DNPs are sought after by employers and have many opportunities to work overseas. They have nursing expertise and are considered influential figures in healthcare.

Opportunities for nurses with advanced skills

Nurses work closely with patients and play a significant part in advancing healthcare. Nurses are the largest group of healthcare professionals and are essential in keeping patients at the center of healthcare and providing high-quality care. The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN’s) Position Statement recommended that all nursing leaders should have a doctoral degree. A survey on DNP graduates was conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2015, sponsored by AACN, and found that they add unique value to their organizations, and many employers feel that they can see the bigger picture and bring about change. DNP graduates were highly satisfied with their decision to obtain a DNP degree; 95% were satisfied, including 71% who were extremely satisfied. 

Online degree programs can work well for full-time nurses who want to further their education. Technology advances have resulted in well-designed online degrees and effective teaching methods. Lectures are recorded so studying can take place at a convenient time. Students can interact virtually and learn from others in different roles and settings. Nurses can apply what they learn to the workplace, making learning more meaningful.

Qualifying with advanced degrees can allow nurses to pursue many career pathways. The MSN and DNP programs prepare nurses to work in advanced practice and leadership positions. The MSN allows nurses to qualify as APRNs and specialize in roles such as becoming a nurse practitioner. The DNP is the highest possible nursing degree that builds on the MSN curriculum and prepares nurses for the highest levels of practice and leadership positions. The shortage of nurses and physicians, and greater demands on healthcare, have created a need for highly qualified nurses who can improve patient outcomes, deliver care in underserved communities and make valuable contributions in leadership roles. Healthcare organizations recognize that nursing expertise is vital to future healthcare services. 

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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9 Simple Steps to Dealing with a Broken Tooth




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It’s movie night, and you have an obligatory bowlful of popcorn balancing on your lap. You toss a handful of popcorn and — crack — you unknowingly bite down on a kernel with the full power of your jaw. 

Lightning strikes your mouth as you realize this humble kernel broke your tooth. 

Now what? 

Besides pausing the movie and spitting out your mouthful of popcorn and tooth, you might not know your next steps. 

What should you do, and how can you pay for it? Find the answers to these questions and more below:

1. Save the Pieces 

If possible, save any broken pieces of the tooth. Your dentist might need these pieces.

2. Rinse Your Mouth 

Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Avoid using hot or cold water, as it might aggravate any exposed nerves. 

3. Control Bleeding 

If you bleed, apply gentle pressure to the area with a clean cloth or gauze. You can also use a cold compress on your jaw or cheek to reduce swelling.

4. Contact Your Dentist

Reach out to your dentist immediately. Explain the situation and try to schedule an emergency appointment. Many dentists reserve slots for urgent cases. If they don’t have a spot available, look at specialty emergency clinics in your area.

5. Get Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Broken and chipped teeth can hurt, so take some over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage this pain until you can see your dentist. 

6. Check Insurance Coverage

Review your dental insurance policy to understand coverage details. Some policies may cover emergency procedures, while others may have limitations.

7. Discuss Payment Options

If cost is a concern, discuss financing options with your dentist. Some dental offices offer flexible arrangements that give you a break. If you qualify for these plans, you might be able to push out your due date to coincide with your payday. You may even be able to break up your total outstanding amount over several payments. 

8. Take out a Personal Loan

If you’re just shy of what you need to cover your emergency dental expense, consider going online to scope out personal loans. A personal loan may fill in for savings in urgent situations. You can quickly visit a website like MoneyKey to see what you need to apply. If approved, a personal loan gives you the means to pay for your visit upfront and pay off what you owe over time. 

9. Consider Urgent Care Clinics

If your financial situation is such that you can’t afford a personal loan’s payments, reconsider your choice of dentist. Some dental practices apply a sliding scale to their services so that they can provide immediate care at a lower cost for at-risk individuals. 

Next Steps: Thinking About the Future

So, you’ve managed to repair your tooth and pay the bill, too. What’s next? Make sure you hit these three goals soon. They can help you prevent another broken tooth in the future!

  1. Stay on Top of Dental Hygiene: Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day — these simple habits can protect your teeth over time. 
  2. Schedule Regular Checkups: Keeping up with regular cleanings can also help you prevent future dental emergencies. 
  3. Build an Emergency Fund: Sometimes, accidents happen. Consider building an emergency fund specifically for unexpected dental emergencies.
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