VUSN: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

Entry into MSN Program | Transitional Objectives | MSN Program Goals

 

ENTRY INTO MSN PROGRAM

Students enter the VUSN Master’s Degree program in one of the following categories:

MSN PreSpecialty

Students with an undergraduate or graduate degree in a field other than nursing may complete the MSN program in six semesters of full-time study: three semesters of upper division generalist PreSpecialty nursing courses to meet the AACN Baccalaureate Essentials (that do not end in a BSN-equivalent degree but move to the specialist level of the MSN program) and three semesters of the specialty master's component to meet the AACN Master’s Essentials.*

ASN to MSN

Students who are already registered nurses from Associate Degree and Diploma programs may complete the MSN program in five semesters of full-time study: two semesters of generalist nursing courses to meet the AACN Baccalaureate Essentials (tailored to RNs) and three semesters of the specialty master’s component to meet the AACN Master’s Essentials.*

BSN to MSN 

Students with a BSN degree can complete the MSN degree in three semesters of full-time study. *They enter directly into the specialty master’s component of the MSN program. The MSN degree is granted based on completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours.

*Some master’s specialties are longer than three semesters

TRANSITIONAL OBJECTIVES

On completion of the MSN PreSpecialty generalist courses, students will be able to:

  • Synthesize knowledge from nursing, the humanities, biophysical and social sciences, and current evidence to engage in professional nursing practice.
  • Promote health and prevent illness in diverse patient populations through targeted education in multiple settings across transitions of care.
  • Provide safe, culturally responsive health care to individuals, families, communities, and populations in diverse settings, through use of critical thinking, clinical reasoning, ethical decision-making, and information management, both independently and in collaboration with health care teams. 
  • Demonstrate leadership in professional nursing practice through commitment to reflective practice, accountability for nursing actions, patient advocacy, and evidence-based practice.
  • Engage in improvement of the health care delivery system through inquiry and action into socioeconomic, political, legal, and ethical issues affecting professional nursing practice.

MSN PROGRAM GOALS

MSN Specialty Level program prepares students:

  • For advanced practice roles including nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, nurse informaticists, and nurse leaders who have expertise and advanced knowledge in a specialty area and can function in complex situations either independently and/or collaboratively with health care teams;
  • To evaluate and apply advanced knowledge by means of critical thinking, clinical reasoning, ethical principles, and the use of current and emerging technologies in relation to advanced nursing practice;
  • To engage in quality improvement initiatives and the delivery of safe, culturally responsive, high quality nursing care of individuals and populations using leadership skills;
  • To evaluate and/or advocate for policies that improve the health of the public and the profession of nursing incorporating ethical principles.

All students are expected to meet the above program goals whether they enter the MSN program with a BSN, an ASN, or a bachelor’s degree other than nursing. Students who must complete a PreSpecialty component of the program must also meet transitional objectives upon completion of the PreSpecialty nursing courses.

Dual MSN/MTS, MSN/MDiv Programs

The Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Theological Studies (MSN/MTS) and Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Divinity (MSN/MDiv) are dual degrees that provide the potential to attract outstanding students to two schools and will benefit both schools, encouraging interdisciplinary work and intra-school collaboration.

Post-Master’s Certificate

The purpose of the Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC) program is to provide, for nurses who already hold a master’s degree in nursing, an educational route to specialization in an area other than that obtained in their master’s program. The program is designed to strengthen or broaden the clinical capabilities of master’s-prepared nurses who are planning a role expansion or role change. Students who complete a post-master’s certificate are expected to master the same specialty outcome criteria as students in a MSN advanced nursing practice specialty.

Post-master’s certificate students must successfully complete all didactic and clinical requirements of the desired area of practice. To obtain a PMC in a nurse practitioner specialty, students are required to complete a minimum of 500 supervised hours in direct patient care.

The program of study includes academic and clinical courses, and completion results in awarding a certificate of academic achievement of post-master’s study. Students do not complete a second MSN, but only the necessary courses to earn the PMC in the new specialty area. Completion of the requirements for the PMC is posted on the student’s official Vanderbilt University transcript. Students who complete a PMC are not awarded a Vanderbilt University School of Nursing pin—the pin is presented only to students who complete the MSN.

The Post-Master’s Certificate Nursing Program goals/objectives are to prepare:

  • For advanced practice roles including nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, nurse informaticists, and nurse leaders who have expertise and advanced knowledge in a specialty area and can function in complex situations either independently and/or collaboratively with health care teams;
  • To evaluate and apply advanced knowledge by means of critical thinking, clinical reasoning, ethical principles, and the use of current and emerging technologies in relation to advanced nursing practice.

Program of Studies for Post-Master's Certificates

Advanced Practice Nursing Clinical Specialties
The specialty director develops an individualized program of studies for a PMC student based on an evaluation of the student’s prior academic work and a gap analysis of courses/experiences needed to qualify for advanced practice certification in the student’s selected specialty. The student’s program of study will contain didactic and clinical experiences that will allow the student to master essential competencies and meet eligibility criteria for testing for national certification in the new population focused area of practice. Each student’s record contains documentation of credit granted for prior didactic and clinical experiences through a gap analysis. The transcript for a PMC APRN graduate shows educational preparation for the role and at least one (1) population focus. Completion of the APRN clinical core courses (advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology) is required. A student may receive credit for APRN clinical core courses that were successfully completed as part of their original Master's degree if, following faculty review of submitted course syllabi, those courses are deemed equivalent to APRN clinical core courses required as part of their certificate program. Documentation of previous completion of equivalent APRN clinical core courses or the need to complete the clinical core courses must be listed on the gap analysis. No transfer credit is awarded; all required courses listed on the gap analysis must be taken at VUSN. Twelve credit hours is the usual minimum number of course credits required for a PMC; however, total hours required for the certificate depend upon the gap analysis.

Nursing Informatics and Nursing Education
There is a pre-determined PMC plan of study for each specialty. The program of study contains specialty-specific didactic and experiential learning. Completion of APRN clinical core courses is not required. No transfer credit is awarded; all required courses must be taken at VUSN. Twelve credit hours is the minimum number of course credits required for a PMC.

Area of Specialty

Specialties

Specialty Director

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Brian Widmar

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Leslie Hopkins

Emergency Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Jennifer Wilbeck

Family Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Courtney Pitts

Family/Emergency Practitioner

Dr. Jennifer Wilbeck & Dr. Courtney Pitts

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Colleen Moss 

Nurse-Midwifery

Dr. Julia Phillippi

Nurse-Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner – Dual Focus

Dr. Julia Phillippi &

Dr. Courtney Pitts

Nursing and Health Care Leadership

Dr. Debbie Arnow

Nursing Education

Dr. Betsy Kennedy

Nursing Informatics

Dr. Patty Sengstack

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care

Dr. Kim Steanson

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care

Dr. Brittany Nelson

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan)

Dr. Megan Simmons

Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Ginny Moore

Women’s Health/Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner – Dual Focus

Dr. Ginny Moore &

Dr. Leslie Hopkins