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Overview of Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree Program in Integrative Health

Majors Overview March 27, 2018

This article talks about the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program in Integrative Health and its educational requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, certification and continuing education options.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program in Integrative Health

In the integrative health field, patients are treated through the use of alternative or complementary therapies combined with Western, evidence-based medicine. A holistic approach is preferable with an emphasis on wellness, health, and collaboration between physician and patient.

Registered nurses (RNs) seeking to become advanced practice nurses qualified to provide specialty, and primary care can benefit from enrolling in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program typically spanning two years. MSN programs incorporate integrative health courses. For instance, integrative health components may be included in public health nurse, clinical nurse leader, and holistic nurse programs. Graduates may include integrative health focuses along with their chosen nursing area; they may seek careers in roles such as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse specialist.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably in nursing. While holders of bachelor’s degrees in other subject areas may find admission in some programs, completion of an accredited registered nursing program and gaining of licensure as an RN may still be necessary. Some clinical experience as an RN may also be a requirement.


Coursework is devised to educate students on the ways in which Western medicine can combine with alternative treatments. Enrolled students also gain general nursing training in areas such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, qualitative and quantitative research and nursing theory. Clinical practicums may be necessary. Integrative courses are in some programs; students must choose a focus in others, where integrative health is an option. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Holistic nursing
•Public health
•Herbal medicine
•Chinese Medicine
•Complementary healing modalities
•Hypnosis/suggestive therapy
•Evidence-based integrative health practice

Job and Wage Outlook

Registered nurses are expected to see the faster-than-average growth of 15%, over the 2016-2026 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Greater emphasis on preventative care, combined with an aging population, could propel this growth. Rural, inner-city and other medically under-served areas are expected to witness greater demand for advanced practice registered nurses in the foreseeable future. In May 2016, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives, and nurse anesthetists brought in an average annual wage of $107,460.

Certification and Continuing Education Options

Program graduates would need not only to maintain RN licensure, but also to gain certification in their specialties before they are allowed to practice. Specialty certification is available through numerous organizations, including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (though every specialty is not available through either organization). Certification can be gained through the passage of an exam and renewed through regular continuing education.

Graduates who wish to earn a higher degree rather than seek immediate employment may consider pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.). The difference between these two types of doctoral programs is that Ph.D. programs are research-based and take around four years to complete, while DNP programs are practice-based and last two years. Some programs include integrative health courses. Dual DNP and Ph.D. programs are also available.

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