What Does Graduate School Signify For Registered Nurses?
You have recently graduated from a college or university school of nursing program and have written your certification exams. Congratulations! You are now officially certified as a registered nurse. Now what?
Your entire nursing career lies ahead of you. Or, maybe there is another alternative that you might like to consider. Have you ever thought about pursuing a higher level of academic achievement, by enrolling in graduate school? You have many options to consider.
What is graduate school and what does it signify for registered nurses?
“Graduate school (or grad school) is a school that awards advanced academic degrees, such as doctoral degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree.” (1)
Many registered nurses are thankful to have completed their nursing degree programs and just want to proceed directly into employment. Some are weary of studying and need a break. Others prefer to work and pay off student loans or other debts. A few registered nurses choose to expand their horizons by traveling while others are excited about getting married and starting their families.
Registered nurses may not realize that they do have other options but there may be a few who have already started making plans to attend graduate school.
The registered nurses, who should seriously consider applying for graduate school, are those who are truly excited about studying and have already set a goal, with respect to the direction of their future studies and potential lifetime careers. These registered nurses will invariably opt for higher levels of academic achievement and be serious about entering into a specialized realm of inquiry. They will invariably succeed.
For instance, some registered nurses may choose to become nursing professors or instructors. Others might prefer to do advanced research, in specific areas of nursing. A few may be interested in other medical fields, like genetics. Some may decide to pursue an entirely different realm of inquiry of interest, like psychiatry or psychology, religious studies or philosophy, or maybe something else that they have already attained some degree of expertise in, prior to enrolling in nursing school.
Registered nurses should be aware that attending graduate school will require at least one or two more years of study, in order to obtain a master’s degree. It will take from two to six years of study, if one opts for entrance into a doctoral program. Some graduate students may choose to start on a master’s degree level and switch into a doctoral level of graduate studies, at a later date.
To be admitted into a graduate school program, a registered nurse must have relatively high academic standing, as well as be considered a suitable candidate for entrance into the program. Note that graduate schools receive many applications from students, all around the world. Only those students who have the highest academic standing are accepted. Visa students from other countries, who do have a high academic standing, may be given preference with regard to admission depending on the college or university.
A written proposal or original research paper may be requested, for consideration with regard to acceptance and admission into a graduate degree program. This will demonstrate the prospective graduate student’s tentative area of interest and inquiry. During the course of a graduate student’s studies, this will usually become one of the major components of his or her Master’s Degree or a Doctorate Degree, as it is gradually expanded, to become a thesis or dissertation that is researched, presented and defended. .
Graduate studies often lead to other certificates or professional degrees. For example, graduate studies may involve mentoring under-graduate students. This entails tutoring students, marking papers, attending and assisting the professors with student examinations, etc. and leads to certification as teachers, for advanced learners.
Note that in order to qualify for a graduate program, there are other pre-requisites, depending upon what type of graduate school program, a registered nurse chooses to attend. A three year bachelor’s degree in nursing may not suffice, in order to qualify for some graduate schools. A fourth (or honors) year of college or university may be necessary. If one is changing faculties, further upgrades may be necessary in order to qualify.
Normally, graduate students are pursuing the same area of academic interest, as in their undergraduate years, but not always. On the doctoral level, the horizon or academic pursuit can be expanded to include a residency program, in another area of interest that requires participation and research, beyond the level of the college or university offering the graduate program.
In graduate studies, there is a high academic cost factor to take consideration. Depending upon the kind of program, there may be student loans, bursaries or grants that are available. Graduate students can also apply to become employed as teaching or research assistants, for professors. Some universities may waive tuition fees for doctoral students.
Another requirement for entrance into a graduate school program may be that of being or becoming fluent in a foreign language. Entrance examinations may be required, depending upon where the graduate program is being offered. Several letters of reference regarding candidate suitability may be needed for admission.
For any registered nurses seriously considering graduate school level studies, more strength and power to you. It may not be an easy road to follow, but know that in time, you will be well rewarded for your efforts!
Do serious online research and make inquiries regarding possible graduate schools that offer studies in your specific area of interest. Choose a graduate school that will give you the kind of education and experience that you are seeking and then begin to enjoy your new experience!
Congratulations on having the courage and tenacity to continue your studies!