Online RN to MSN Programs in South Carolina
Charleston Southern University is the only entry in our listings of South Carolina RN to MSN programs. But it’s online! We’ve given it full coverage in the profile—here’s a quick summary of the distance learning factors:
- Charleston Southern University: Almost all of the work in CSU’s ADN to MSN is 100% online, but MSN students must attend 2 full-day workshops on the campus. The first is an Orientation Residency Day in August. The second is a Pinning Residency Day that occurs in the last semester and involves final presentations. If you’re coming from another state, it never hurts to ask if you’re eligible to apply for the program. However, CSU is part of NC-SARA, which means out-of-state applications should be fairly straightforward for education & leadership concentrations (i.e. non-NP specialties).
Note: We want to point out that South University, a for-profit university with CCNE accreditation, offers an Online RN to MSN—Family Nurse Practitioner through its Columbia campus. However, because South is based in Savannah, we’ve profiled it in our RN to MSN Georgia listings.
South Carolina’s Healthcare Landscape
Any hard-working RN in South Carolina will already be aware of the healthcare issues that the state is facing. Obesity and diabetes rates are high. Violent crime, especially in the realm of firearm deaths, is a continuing concern. Preterm birth rates and low birthweights are affecting the health of infants. And premature death has been on the rise in recent years, exacerbated by cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
On top of this, the state tends to do badly in the Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance, with low marks for access & affordability, prevention & treatment, and healthy lives. It chose not to expand Medicaid, which has led to accessibility issues, and it’s grappling with childhood poverty.
These trends are particularly noticeable in South Carolina rural areas:
- If you look at the BCBS Health Index Map and County Health Rankings, you’ll notice that counties that are doing okay are centered around big metropolitan areas (e.g. Greenville, Columbia, Charleston & Rock Hill). Counties that are suffering the most are rural (e.g. Lee, Dillon, Marlboro, Marion, Williamsburg, etc.).
- In the 2018 U.S. Rural Health Report Card, South Carolina received failing grades across the board, including Fs in all-cause mortality, mental health, low birthweight, and dental care access, and Ds for general health, the uninsured rate, and mental health access.
In response, the South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) has come up with a Rural Health Action Plan. It has also developed community initiatives that are designed to address the most pressing problems. These include the Blueprint for Health project to support healthy lifestyles, the Family Solutions of the Low Country project to improve maternal & infant care, and the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP).
South Carolina Nursing Challenges & Opportunities
South Carolina is also grappling with a shortage of healthcare providers, especially in primary care and mental health. According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)’s shortage maps, parts of all 46 South Carolina counties were considered medically underserved in 2018. In some counties, NPs even outnumbered family physicians.
In the past, this discrepancy has been a real issue. Although they are recognized as primary care providers, South Carolina NPs operate under restricted practice. As of 2019, they must have written protocols with a physician to practice and prescribe drugs & devices. If there aren’t a lot of South Carolina physicians who are prepared to work outside of the major metropolitan areas (and there often aren’t), NPs are somewhat hamstrung.
But things may be gradually changing. In May 2018, South Carolina expanded the law to give NPs greater freedom. They are now allowed to prescribe Schedule II medications and put patients in hospice. Perhaps more importantly, South Carolina NPs no longer have to practice within 45 miles of their supervising physician. This may stop the bleed of NPs from remote areas and rural health clinics. For the latest revisions to the laws, visit the South Carolina Board of Nursing website.
Jobs for South Carolina RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary on an annual basis. That means you can use the employment maps to get a reasonably up-to-date view of the entire state.
For example, you’ll notice that South Carolina employs fewer nurse practitioners than North Carolina or Georgia. This may be down to volume. Fewer hospitals and university medical centers leads to fewer job openings. Wages for South Carolina NPS also tend to be low.
- Hotspots for NPs center on the major cities—Charleston, Columbia, and upstate metropolitan areas (e.g. Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg, etc.). Many of the Best Hospitals in South Carolina and Magnet Facilities are situated there, including AnMed Health, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, MUSC Health, and Prisma Health-Greenville.
- This is also where aspiring nursing instructors & educators will find many of the major universities with nursing schools. USC’s main campus is in Columbia; the Medical University of South Carolina is in Charleston; and Lander, Anderson, and Clemson University are lurking to the north. But you may also wish to try state technical colleges that offer RN programs.
Hoping to tackle the rural health crisis?
- South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC) has a useful list of Recruitment & Retention Programs and info on Telehealth initiatives.
- And SCORH has full details on Rural Provider Recruitment Services, including the Rural Physician Program and Marlboro County General Hospital Foundation Loan Repayment Incentives. Despite the misleading name, the Rural Physician Program will accept applications from credentialed NPs and nurse midwives who contract for a period of four years to practice in a rural or underserved area!
Career Resources for Future APRNs
South Carolina Nursing Job Boards
- SCNA Career Center: Job listings for South Carolina nurses, including APRNs, nurse educators, and nurse leaders
- SCHospitalJobs.com: Openings for healthcare professionals in South Carolina hospitals
South Carolina APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for South Carolina Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for South Carolina Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
South Carolina Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
South Carolina Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Capitol Nurse Practitioner Group (Capitol NP)
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): South Carolina Chapters
- South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA)
- South Carolina Nurses Association (SCNA)
- SCNA APRN Chapter
- Upstate Nurse Practitioner Association of Greenville (UNPA)
South Carolina Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – South Carolina Affiliate (South Carolina ACNM)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – South Carolina (AWHONN South Carolina)
- South Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists (SCANA)
- South Carolina Association of Occupational Health Nurses (SCAOHN)
- South Carolina Association of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (SCAPAN)
- South Carolina Association of School Nurses (SCASN)
- South Carolina Emergency Nurses Association (SC ENA)
- South Carolina League for Nursing (SCLN)
- South Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders (SCONL)
- Student Nurses’ Association of South Carolina (SNA-SC)
Nursing School Overview
CSU is a small Christian university that's located in North Charleston and affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. So you'll see that the College of Nursing makes a point of incorporating Christian beliefs and practices into the curriculum. The BSN program has a 94% 10-year average pass rate on the NCLEX (the highest rate in South Carolina) and the ADN to MSN has excellent completion rates (e.g. 100% for Nurse Educator). We also like the fact that admissions requirements are tough - it means your fellow online students should be smart & motivated. We couldn't find many independent reviews of CSU's nursing graduate programs, though the university is well-known in the Charleston area. In addition, if you are an employee of Trident Health Systems, Greenville Health System, or Spartanburg Regional Hospital, you'll be eligible for a 10% tuition discount on the MSN.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
In addition to an ADN, candidates for this online program must have a bachelor's degree in a related field. In your application, CSU will want to see a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on your undergraduate work, an active & unrestricted RN license, GRE or MAT scores (waived if your GPA is 3.5 or higher), and a prerequisite in statistics (students whose course is older than 10 years may be given an option to test out). At least 1 year of prior nursing experience is recommended. The application will also need to include a resume, an admissions essay, and 3 letters of recommendation. In total, ADN to MSN students must complete 51 credit hours of work. You'll begin by taking 3 undergraduate nursing courses (12 credits) in the summer prior to the MSN. After that, you can concentrate on the master's degree and your choice of specialty (39 credits). Almost all of the MSN coursework is delivered online in 5-week classes, but there are 2 mandatory full-day workshops on the CSU campus - an orientation at the beginning of the program and your final presentation & pinning ceremony at the end. The entire ADN to MSN program might take 19 months to complete on a full-time basis.