Health Care Systems

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Today’s health care system requires new skills of nursing leaders to transform the delivery of nursing and health care. The Health Care Systems (HCS) Advanced Practice Area in the Master of Science (MSN) degree program prepares students with knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a variety of leadership positions in health care organizations. This advanced practice area includes content in management and leadership, informatics, financial management, human resource management, quality improvement, outcomes management, and education. Such an approach prepares graduates with a breadth and depth of knowledge and skills needed to develop, implement, and measure the impact of innovations in care delivery at all levels within health care organizations. Health Care Systems prepares students to become advanced practice leaders in the following areas:

  • Administration: Prepares students with advanced knowledge and skills in the management, organization, and delivery of systems of care, with emphasis on human and financial resource management.
  • Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL): Prepares students to provide and manage care for individuals and groups of patients, with emphasis on understanding patients’ clinical progression, care transitions and processes, evidence-based practice, quality improvement and patient safety. Students will complete core specialty courses focused on client and system assessment, outcomes management, clinical nurse leadership, as well as coursework addressing the 3P’s (advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced assessment). Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for the Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Examination.
  • Education: Prepares students with advanced knowledge and skills in teaching and nursing education to fill roles in patient education, staff development, or academic settings. Students in the education program will complete coursework addressing the 3P’s (advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and in advanced assessment, as well as courses addressing the foundation of nursing education, evaluation, and clinical teaching. Upon completion of the program, education graduates are eligible to sit for national certification as a Certified Nurse Educator.
  • Informatics: Prepares students with in-depth knowledge and skills in information management and processing principles to support data, information, and knowledge needs in the practice of nursing.
  • Outcomes Management: Prepares students with advanced skills in managing patient and systems outcomes, emphasizing quality and performance improvement, outcomes measurement, and introducing practice innovations.

Students complete core MSN and HCS specialty courses and supporting coursework commensurate with their area of focus and future goals, and an intensive residential experience. For the residency, students are individually placed with preceptors employed in selected clinical practice sites for role integration and immersion. Full-time students usually complete their program of study in five semesters, while part-time students typically complete the program in three years. Full time CNL students typically complete in four semesters. Upon completion of the program and with the requisite experience, graduates are eligible to sit for appropriate certification examinations in their area of focus.

HCS faculty members are sensitive to students’ learning needs by employing a variety of instructional modalities, including seminar or classroom settings, and on-line instruction. As a result, HCS courses may be offered using traditional classroom settings and/or Web-enhanced technologies.

Dual Degree MSN/MSIS or MSN/MSLS

The School of Nursing and the School of Information and Library Sciences offer two dual programs of study leading to two professional degree combinations: the Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Information Science (MSN/MSIS), and the Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Library Science (MSN/MSLS). The dual degree programs provide an opportunity for HCS students focusing in Informatics to combine skills in nursing, health care informatics and clinical leadership with specialized training in information and library sciences to meet the demands of a highly complex health care environment. These innovative programs create unique and highly challenging intellectual experiences for interested students. Graduates will be well versed in clinical and information management techniques, the design and implementation of these technologies, and the evaluation of these technologies on the people who use them.

Under the dual degree arrangement, a student may earn two professional degrees in a period of time less than the total required to complete the two degrees separately. For example, full time HCS students may complete either the MSN/MSIS or MSN/MSLS in approximately three academic years. Students must meet all HCS requirements, plus complete program requirements in either information or library science.

Admission to the dual program requires that students be admitted to both the MSN and MSIS/MSLS programs. However, students must apply initially for graduate study in the School of Nursing, Health Care Systems-Informatics program area. Students will then apply to the School of Information and Library Sciences in a subsequent semester.

Additional Information

Suggested Plans of Study

How to Apply


School of Nursing
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Office of Student Affairs
Carrington Hall, CB #7460
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460
(919) 966-4260