Answer: An MSN in Health Systems Management is a Master of Science in Nursing degree program with specialized coursework in nursing leadership and administration, as well as in healthcare informatics technologies, and in other innovations that promote the evidence-based practice of nursing. These programs are designed to prepare professional nurses for managerial and administrative roles in clinical settings, and for coordinating the delivery of nursing services in ways that improve the overall quality of care.
Broadly defined, health systems refers to the institutions, the material resources, and the clinicians, administrators, and other professionals who work together to provide healthcare services. Managing these systems is a complicated endeavor that requires a clear understanding of healthcare policy and organizational structures, as well as up-to-date knowledge of clinical protocols and technological advances in patient care. In the field of nursing, this entails advanced training in leadership, personnel management, interpersonal communication, evidence-based clinical practice, and the information systems and data technologies that drive innovation in the healthcare sector. Nurses who work in HSM positions harness knowledge and skills in these areas in order to coordinate the integration of informatics systems and other advances in healthcare technologies into the practice of nursing at hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities.
An MSN in HSM is a Master of Science in Nursing program that provides specialized training and instruction in nursing administration, healthcare IT systems, biostatics, quality outcome assessment, and other topics relevant to effectively delivering healthcare services while improving patient outcomes. Students in these programs complete a core curriculum of MSN courses in general advanced clinical and administrative practices. This often includes coursework in epidemiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, healthcare research methods, and contemporary legal and ethical concerns in nursing. It also may incorporate up to 500 hours of supervised clinical training. MSN programs with an HSM concentration provide additional training in areas like staffing, healthcare economics and budgeting, data-driven decision making, and the utilization of healthcare information technologies.
Common courses in an MSN in HSM program include:
Note: Some schools offer Master of Science in Health Systems Management (MSHSM) degree programs, which should not be confused with a Master of Science in Nursing in HSM. MSHSM programs do not provide advanced clinical and administrative training in nursing, which is a core part of MSN programs with an HSM specialization.
Applicants to MSN programs must hold a valid and unencumbered RN (Registered Nurse) license in order to be eligible for admission. Some programs also require applicants to have graduated from an accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Other programs offer RN-to-MSN pathways designed for students with an ADN (or sometimes a nursing diploma) or an ADN plus a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Applicants to an MSN program may be asked to provide undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, an updated CV, and/or a short personal statement as part of the admissions process.
Graduates from MSN programs with an HSM specialization are typically qualified to pursue administrative and leadership positions in a wide range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, ambulatory clinics, and long-term care facilities. Working in the field of HSM generally involves collaborating with other healthcare professionals to monitor patient care protocols, coordinate the implementation of quality care procedures, and integrate data-driven innovations in clinical practice. The training provided by an MSN in HSM program may also prepare graduates for formal certification by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) as a Certified Nurse Manager and Leader, and/or by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Nurse Executive – Board Certified (NE-BC) or a Nurse Executive Advanced – Board Certified (NEA-BC). These certifications may be helpful for career advancement in the field of nursing administration and HSM.