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Why Specialize in Your MS in Nursing Degree?

The University of Southern Maine (USM) offers an online Registered Nurse (RN) to Master of Science (MS) in Nursing degree with two concentrations: Nursing Administration and Leadership or Nursing Education. Students who fulfill RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) requirements through the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) can seamlessly complete their BSN to MS in Nursing coursework through USM.

It is helpful for you to consider your passion, strengths and the numerous benefits of an MS in Nursing from USM. In this program, you gain both personal and professional benefits, such as the following:

Personal Benefits Professional Benefits

Improved skills

Better work hours

Higher pay

Personal fulfillment

Challenging work

More responsibility

Leadership duties

Expanded job opportunities

Networking opportunities

Nursing Education vs. Nursing Administration/Leadership

If you love being a preceptor, doing in-services or guest lecturing and have a passion for education and mentoring, then USM’s MS in Nursing – Nursing Education online program might be right for you. Regardless of your title, you will likely be shaping the next generation of nurses to deliver top-quality patient care. With the nation-wide, severe nursing shortage, nurse educators are in high demand.

However, if you are interested in healthcare as a business and leading healthcare of tomorrow, consider USM’s MS in Nursing –  Nursing Administration/Leadership online program. This degree helps students learn management and leadership theory, advocacy and practice and policy. In addition, it prepares students for leadership roles on various levels.

Nurse Educator Roles

The term “nurse educator” applies to many different roles and responsibilities beyond a nursing faculty position. For example, nurse educators are in high-demand clinical settings, inpatient and ambulatory care or even pharmaceutical companies as nurse educators/advocates.

  • Nursing faculty. Nurse educators can teach as university professors, seminar speakers or skills-lab instructors in entry-level nursing programs. Nursing faculty may also have clinical supervision responsibilities within an organization. For example, faculty may supervise a group of students doing their first-year clinicals. In addition, they may arrange for nurse preceptors to match a student with their mentor.
  • Staff educator. Many organizations have nurse educators in a staff development department as part of onboarding new employees. For example, these nurses assess and review skills and critical thinking abilities. Their primary role is developing and implementing clinical competency programs such as orientation, clinical placement, residencies or internships.
  • Clinical educator. With healthcare becoming more specialized, most service lines hire specialty expert nurse educators. For example, they may support oncology, cardiovascular or intensive care services. Some positions are more unit-based, while others cover a facility or multiple sites.
  • Simulation nurse educator. Larger healthcare organizations are creating innovative educational centers staffed by nurse educators. For example, HCA Healthcare has multiple regional centers for clinical advancement with classrooms, meeting spaces and high-tech simulation and observation rooms. They aim to “bring the latest teaching technologies under one roof.”
  • Pharmaceutical nurse educator. Sometimes called industry nurses, these nurses work for pharmaceutical or medical device companies. Positions include education, sales or medical science liaison, with many requiring or preferring an MSN degree. Education may focus on a particular drug or group of drugs, devices or diseases.

Administrator Roles

Numerous career paths are open for nurses with the MS in Nursing – Nursing Administration/Leadership degree from USM. Titles and roles vary depending on the position and overall responsibilities. Nursing salaries are difficult to estimate as it depends on the duties, coverage and geographical area. For example, a CNO who covers multiple locations in numerous states can earn an average of $245,280 a year, according to, and up to $500,000 annually with bonuses.

  • Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). A CNO is among the other chiefs in the organization and is often considered one of the highest-ranked nursing professionals on the administrative or executive team. Their crucial role is to be the voice of nursing to cultivate interdepartmental relationships. In addition, they provide the vision of nursing, practice standards and quality metrics.
  • Director of Nursing (DON). A DON often reports to a CNO. They oversee staffing and operations, typically including all clinical services. Some may lead a facility, while others are responsible for multiple sites.
  • Service Line Director. These nurses are responsible for a specific population group, such as cardiovascular services, oncology or orthopedics. Their central role is ensuring that patient care is coordinated and patient-centered within budget restrictions.
  • Manager, Nurse Manager, Nurse Supervisor, Clinical Manager. These various terms describe a nurse leader over a particular clinical area(s), and they are responsible for care within a designated place, site or department.

USM’s online RN to MS in Nursing allows students to save time and money, earning two degrees through just one program. First, they complete the RN to BSN portion in UMFK’s online program, finishing MS in Nursing requirements through USM.

Learn more about USM’s online RN to MS in Nursing program with concentrations in Nursing Administration and Leadership or Nursing Education.

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