The purpose of the Master of Science of Nursing Program is to prepare nurses for advanced practice. Whether operationalized in the practitioner, clinical specialist or nurse manager role, advanced practice implies clinical expertise in delivering progressive services to a specific group of patients or clients.
The curriculum consists of four components: professional, research, clinical and advanced nursing practice. The professional core focuses on issues and trends in nursing and health care, health of populations, and the theories and frameworks that guide advanced nursing practice. The research core is designed to help students develop skills to extend the knowledge of nursing through participation in formal inquiry and documentation of the knowledge embedded in practice. The clinical core puts these skills and knowledge into a practical setting. Advanced practice areas focus on both clinical knowledge and skills.
Advanced practice areas reflect current trends within the profession of nursing. In 1955, the master’s program was established to prepare leaders in nursing education and administration. The curriculum has been revised several times since then. As the profession moved toward placing greater value on leadership in clinical practice, calling for graduate education for leadership positions, the faculty moved to strengthen and focus the clinical core of the curriculum. The current advanced practice areas include: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Health Care Systems (Administration, Clinical Nurse Leader and/or Educator, Education, Informatics, Outcomes Management), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Practitioner (transitioning to a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner only option during the 2011-12 AY) and Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (admission to this option is suspended as of August 2011). In addition, for students in the Health Care Systems Informatics option, dual MSN/MSIS and MSN/MSLS are available through the School of Nursing and the School of Information and Library Sciences.
The master’s program in nursing is distinguished from the baccalaureate program in nursing by its emphasis on advanced practice – breadth and depth of knowledge of particular phenomena. The nurse prepared at the master’s level is expected to demonstrate expertise with a selected population of patients or in a selected functional role. The student is expected to show proficiency in all areas and mastery in some. In the end, however, masterful practice remains an abstraction, difficult to capture in words; it becomes concrete only in practice over time.