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Nursing and Healthcare Degree Programs

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Those drawn to helping professions will find many options in the growing health care industry. To thrive in this field, though, they’ll need a formal degree from an accredited college or university. In this article, we explore the many different types of degrees available in the field of nursing and healthcare.

Associates Degree in Nursing and Health Care Programs

Overview

Associates degree programs in nursing and health care prepare students with the vital technical skills necessary to take on a variety of entry-level positions in the field of health care. These programs usually require two years to complete and often include certification and/or licensing opportunities. Though associate’s degrees, in general, aren’t typically associated with high-paying occupations, ADNs and other types of associate’s degrees in health care are an exception. These credentials position students to earn very respectable salaries—often higher than those tied to bachelor’s degrees in some other fields. There are several different types of associates in nursing and health care one can pursue. Below are some sample options:

  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
  • Associate’s in Medical Diagnostics
  • AAS in Emergency Medical Services
  • AAS Healthcare Information Management
  • Associate’s of Surgical Technology
  • Associate’s in Healthcare Administration
  • AAS Medical Office Management

Nursing and Health Care Associates Programs: Curriculum

The curricula for nursing and health care associate’s programs will vary depending on the type of degree you’re pursuing as well as the specific school you choose to attend. Generally speaking, though, these plans of study will consist of two major components: a general education core and a nursing major core. More often than not, the courses you take to fulfill the credit requirements for each of these components will transfer to a bachelor’s degree program in nursing and health care should you choose to pursue one. Below, we’ve listed sample course titles from actual associate’s in nursing degree programs currently accepting new students. Keep in mind that these are only samples and may or may not reflect the courses you’ll take in your chosen nursing/health care associate’s program:

Associate of Nursing and Health Care Curriculum: General Education Courses

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Introduction to Literature
  • English Composition
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Effective Business Communications
  • Research Writing
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Art Appreciation
  • Math Concepts

Associates Degree in Health Care and Nursing Curriculum: Major Courses

  • Advanced Concepts of Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Principles of Pharmacology
  • Microbiology for Health Professionals
  • Population Health and Education Concepts
  • Synthesis of Nursing Concepts
  • Nursing Concepts in Mental Health
  • Concepts of Gerontological Nursing
  • Application of Nursing Skills
  • Nursing: Management and Professional Concepts

Nursing/Health Care Associates Programs: Career Outlook

Thanks to an aging population and the ever-increasing demand for high-quality, integrative health care in the U.S., jobs in the health care field are currently growing much faster than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for positions in nursing and healthcare is expected to grow by 18% in the decade between 2016 and 2026, adding nearly two and a half million new jobs. Most of these new positions will require a minimum of an associate’s degree in health care/nursing. To give you a better idea of the occupational outlook for nursing and healthcare jobs requiring an associate’s degree, in particular, we’ve listed some associates-level job titles along with their respective growth projections below. These percentages indicate the expected increase in openings for these job titles between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS:

  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists: 10%
  • Radiation Therapists: 13%
  • Radiological and MRI Technologists: 13%
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers & Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians: 17%
  • Respiratory Therapists: 23%

Associate of Nursing and Health Care Degrees: Pay

As mentioned previously, associate’s degree programs in nursing and healthcare prepare graduates for very well-paid positions, especially considering their minimal level of education in the field. Consider the following job titles requiring just an associate’s credential along with their mean annual wage, according to the BLS:

  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists: $75,660
  • Radiation Therapists: $80,570
  • Radiological and MRI Technologists: $60,070
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers & Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians: $65,620
  • Respiratory Therapists: $59,710

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Health Care and Nursing

Overview

Bachelor’s degree programs in nursing and healthcare are extremely popular options for prospective students looking to break into the field because they open up so many opportunities. These undergraduate plans of study require about double the amount of time and effort needed for an associate’s degree, though. As with most other types of baccalaureate programs, bachelor’s degrees in nursing and healthcare are typically full-time programs designed to be completed over the course of four years. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing—or BSN as it’s familiarly referred to—is arguably the most popular type of bachelor’s in healthcare and nursing, but other programs are available as well such as the Bachelor of Healthcare Administration and Bachelor of Health Informatics, for instance.

Nursing and Health Care Bachelor’s Degree Programs: Curriculum

Like associate’s degree programs in nursing and healthcare, bachelor’s programs in the field are also two-fold in that they consist of both general education and major-specific classes. The courses taken at the bachelor’s level are often more academically rigorous, however, and explore topics in more depth. Here, we list some sample course titles from actual baccalaureate programs in health care and nursing.

Nursing and Health Care Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum: General Education Classes

  • Effective Communication
  • Global Awareness, Perspectives, and Ethics
  • Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to the Humanities

Bachelor’s in Health Care and Nursing Curriculum: Major-Specific Courses

  • Legal and Ethical Principles in Health Care
  • Health Policy and Economic Analysis Care
  • Health Care Systems and Transcultural Health Care
  • Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing
  • Evidence-Based Practice and Applied Nursing Research
  • Care of the Older Adult
  • Human Experience in Health and Common Illness
  • Psychosocial Nursing
  • Contemporary Professional Nursing
  • Healthcare Quality Management
  • Healthcare Finance
  • Healthcare Research and Evaluation Methodologies

Bachelor of Health Care and Nursing: Career Outlook

We’ve already established that jobs in healthcare and nursing are on a steep incline, but you may be wondering what your specific career prospects will be upon graduation from a bachelor’s degree program in nursing and healthcare. Below, we list some of the job titles this credential will qualify you for along with their growth projections from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Dieticians and Nutritionists: 15%
  • Exercise Physiologists: 13%
  • Recreational Therapists: 7%
  • Registered Nurses: 15%

Health Care and Nursing Bachelor’s Degrees: Pay

Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare and nursing are poised for lucrative careers, but exactly how much you can expect to make will depend on a variety of different factors, including your specific degree, job title, employer, and work experience. It is possible to get a general idea, however. Payscale.com reports that those with a bachelor’s in nursing credential earn approximately $79,000 per year on average, for example, while those with a bachelor’s degree in health care administration make an average of $56,000 annually. To give you a better idea of what kind of pay is associated with various careers in healthcare and nursing, we’ve listed some specific job titles below alongside their respective average salaries, according to Payscale:

  • Registered Nurse: $62,736
  • Nurse Case Manager: $70,535
  • Clinical Nurse Manager: $83,570
  • Nursing Director: $88,078
  • Healthcare Administrator: $81,163
  • Medical Practice Manager: $59,472

Master’s Degree Programs in Nursing and Health Care

Overview

Master’s degree in nursing and healthcare programs are designed for those professionals who wish to specialize in a specific sub-field of health care, take on leadership roles in the field, or both. These advanced graduate programs are rigorous academic endeavors that usually require two years of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree. In recent years, flexible master’s in nursing and health care programs have become more readily available for working nurses and health care professionals. These offerings allow students to keep their day jobs while continuing their education in the field on a part-time basis, during evening hours, and even online. Accelerated options are also available that enable students to earn their master’s credentials in less than two years—sometimes in as few as 12 months.

Because master’s degree programs in nursing and health care are highly specialized by nature, there are several different types of degrees available. We list some of these below:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • Master’s in Health Informatics
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Health Leadership
  • MBA Healthcare Administration
  • MS in Nursing: Leadership and Management
  • MS in Nursing: Nursing Informatics

Keep in mind, too, that each of these different types of master’s in health care and nursing programs may offer additional specialization opportunities through concentration and focus area options.

Nursing and Health Care Master’s Degrees: Curriculum

The specific curriculum for your master of nursing and health care degree program will depend on the type of master’s program you choose to pursue as well as any specializations options you elect to add to your degree program. You can expect the courses you take to be more academically challenging than those you took as an undergraduate. Below, we’ll list some sample course titles taken from actual master’s degree programs in nursing and healthcare to give you an idea of the breadth and scope of master’s level classes in this field:

Healthcare & Nursing Master’s Programs: Sample Course Titles

  • Health Care Research Analysis and Utilization
  • Theoretical Foundations for Nursing Roles and Practice
  • Moral and Ethical Positions and Actions in Nursing
  • Introduction to Nursing Interventions
  • Perspectives on Health Informatics
  • Statistical Computing for Biomedical Data Analytics
  • Social and Organizational Issues in Health Care
  • Topics in Health Administration
  • Research Methods in Public Health
  • Influencing Health Care Policy
  • Community Health Assessment

Master of Nursing & Health Care: Career Outlook

With jobs in nursing and health care on the rise, getting a master’s degree in the field only increases the opportunities available to health professionals. To give you an idea of which positions are in highest demand, we’re listing some of the occupations requiring a master’s in health care and nursing along with their growth projections in percentages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Speech-Language Pathologists: 18%
  • Orthotists and Prosthetists: 22%
  • Occupational Therapists: 24%
  • Genetic Counselors: 29%
  • Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Midwives: 31%

Health Care and Nursing Master’s Degree: Pay

Occupations requiring a master’s degree in nursing and health care are some of the highest paid positions in the field. According to Payscale.com, professionals who hold a master’s degree in health administration make $76,000 a year on average while those with a master of science in nursing earn just over $90,000. Below, you’ll find some specific job titles along with their average salaries, according to Payscale:

  • Healthcare Administrator: $67,791
  • Healthcare Consultant: $73,720
  • Nurse Educator: $72,358
  • Registered Nurse: $72,113
  • Nursing Manager: $89,734
  • Nurse Practitioner: $93,492
  • Nursing Director: $103,526
  • Chief Nursing Officer: $126,252

Doctoral Programs in Nursing and Health Care

Overview

Doctoral programs in healthcare and nursing are the most advanced educational pursuits that exist in the field. As such, they require the most amount of effort and a hefty time commitment, usually between five and seven years. There are several different types of doctorates in nursing and healthcare available, and the one for you should align with your specific academic interests and career goals. Here are some examples:

Types of Nursing and Health Care Doctorates

  • Doctor of Medicine
  • PhD in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice
  • Doctor of Public Health
  • PhD in Health Informatics
  • Doctorate in Health Administration
  • Doctor of Pharmacy
  • Doctor of Health Sciences

Health Care and Nursing Doctorate Degrees: Curriculum

The curricula for doctoral programs in health care and nursing can vary widely depending upon the type of degree you pursue as well as the school you elect to attend. What these programs have in common, though, is that they approach topics in health care in great depth and emphasize both the analysis and practice of research in the field. The sample course titles below are listed merely for the purposes of illustrating the depth and reach of doctoral coursework in health care/nursing:

Nursing and Health Care Doctoral Curriculum: Sample Course Titles

  • Educational Concepts for Advancing Nursing Practice
  • Policy, Organizations, and Financing of Health Care
  • Informatics for Scholarly Practice
  • Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
  • Globalization of Health Care
  • Policy and Regulation of Health Care
  • Risk Management in Complex Health Organizations
  • Clinical Prevention and Biostatistics
  • Translational Research in Health Care
  • Informatics, Technology, and Trends in Transforming Health Care

 

Doctor of Nursing and Health Care: Career Outlook

Most careers requiring a doctoral degree in health care and nursing are currently growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are some specific growth projections in percentages (from 2016 to 2026), also from the BLS:

  • Physicians and Surgeons: 13%
  • Physical Therapists: 28%
  • Podiatrists: 10%
  • Pharmacists: 6%
  • Optometrists: 18%
  • Dentists: 19%
  • Chiropractors: 12%
  • Audiologists: 21%

Health Care and Nursing Doctorate Degree Programs: Pay

Although your pay will vary depending on the type of degree in healthcare and nursing you are awarded as well as the specific terms of your employment, the prospects for this credential are promising. According to Payscale.com, professionals who hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree earn approximately 100,000 a year on average. Those with a PhD in Health Care Administration make around $102,000 a year, and those with a Doctor of Medicine credential make over twice that at $206,000 annually. Below, we’ll list some specific job titles requiring a doctorate in nursing and health care along with their mean annual wage:

  • Executive Director: $156,988
  • Practice Manager: $79,010
  • Account Executive: $100,415
  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner: $105,008
  • Chief Nursing Officer: $169,228
  • Nurse Anesthetists: $147,521
  • Nursing Manager: $109,402
  • Family Physician: $177,210
  • Anesthesiologist: $293,240

Nursing and Healthcare Related Rankings: