Online RN to MSN Programs in West Virginia
The sole West Virginia university in our school listings—Wheeling—has an online RN to MSN program. We give it full coverage in the program profile, but here are a few points to note about the distance learning elements:
- Wheeling University: Wheeling’s accelerated RN to BSN/MSN program starts with undergraduate coursework. Almost all of it is 100% online, though campus visits may be required for the NURS 460 course. It’s a similar story for MSN credits. Courses are offered online with one required on-campus presentation. Clinical experiences usually occur in the student’s home community at an approved clinical site. The Resources section contains an Online Learning Guide with answers to many questions.
You can expand your search even further by viewing the listings in our page on Online RN to MSN Programs. We’ve amassed options from every state.
West Virginia’s Healthcare Landscape
West Virginia has been called “Ground Zero” for U.S. healthcare. This is a state with a whole host of modern issues:
- According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), diabetes, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease are endemic. So, too, is obesity.
- West Virginia tends to have a high rate of firearm deaths and suicide, a high prevalence of frequent mental & physical distress, and one of the worst drug death rates in the country. In 2017, the death rate surpassed 1,000 people (though it has been declining since then).
- Children are being born pre-term and with low birthweights. Some have neonatal abstinence syndrome. Infant mortality is well above the national average.
- Rankings in the Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance are abysmal, especially for factors like Avoidable Hospital Use & Cost and Healthy Lives. In the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, West Virginia is usually near the bottom.
- The 2018 U.S. Rural Health Report Card gave West Virginia an overall grade of F, with failing grades across the board. But poverty rates in urban counties were almost as bad, and the age-adjusted mortality rate was virtually even. The BCBS Health Index Map is one big mass of orange and red.
Much of this story is summed up in the West Virginia Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease’s section on Fast Facts.
West Virginia Nursing Challenges & Opportunities
This is truly where APRNs—especially folks who come from the state—can serve their country. West Virginia is a proving ground for experienced nurse leaders who are willing to work on healthcare initiatives. These might include advocating for:
- State & Federal Funding for the Economy: First off, West Virginia communities—especially rural counties—need a steady source of 21st century jobs. Unemployment leads to poor health, a reduction in the taxpayer base, fewer facilities, and despair. Once jobs are in place, the state government can funnel tax money back into healthcare. You cannot build a healthy community without pride.
- Preventative Care & Early Intervention at the Primary Care Level: Many of West Virginia’s statistics are tied to chronic health conditions. Smoking, poor food, a lack of exercise, depression—these are grassroots challenges that can be met. For example, one WV town has had success with a free clinic that evolved into a health & wellness center with a community garden, vegetable delivery service, running club, and drug addiction program.
- Creative Solutions for Healthcare Access: West Virginia’s geography can make it difficult for rural residents to get to a hospital or healthcare provider. Because of insurance fears & costs, urban residents may avoid treatment until their situation is dire. Insurance education & support, telehealth initiatives at a primary care level, traveling nurses & doctors (e.g. visits to diabetic patients), nurse-managed clinics in urban hotspots—these are just a few ways to get the ball rolling.
- Recruitment Initiatives to Address Shortages: West Virginia is a gorgeous state, but many healthcare veterans are feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Nurses are being hired on short-term contracts and then leaving. Recruiting from WV high schools—with full education funding for doctors & nurses who stay in their communities—is a start. So, too, is creating 2-year or 3-year residencies with universities who specialize in rural nursing (e.g. Frontier). Mentorship pairing, group hiring (e.g. 4 colleagues from the same school), employment bonuses… the list goes on.
Jobs for West Virginia RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps a watchful eye on job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. We especially like the regional and state maps on these pages, since they allow users to compare geographic options. Hover over an area to view the data points.
- Overall, West Virginia has around fewer NPs than neighboring states, but still a high concentration of jobs considering the population size.
- Charleston employs around 23% of the state’s NPs and the Huntington-Ashland WV-KY-OH area sustains around 28%.
- Wages are, as you might expect, in the bottom bracket for most areas, except for Southern West Virginia.
You can begin your job search by comparing this directory of WVHA Hospital and Health System Members with U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of Best Hospitals in West Virginia and Magnet Facilities in West Virginia. The WV RN Board also has a list of Board Approved Nursing Education Programs in the state. Here are a few highlights:
- Charleston: Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston and the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) are “Best Hospitals”; CAMC is also the state’s largest hospital. The most prominent branch is the CAMC Memorial Hospital in Kanahwa City, but CAMC also runs the Women and Children’s Hospital and the CAMC General Hospital, which focuses on neurology, orthopedics, trauma, and rehabilitation care. And the University of Charleston has a well-known School of Health Sciences.
- Morgantown: “Best Hospitals” in this area include the Mon Health Medical Center and West Virginia University Hospitals/J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital (the state’s sole Magnet Facility). Morgantown is also the home of West Virginia University and WVU Medicine Children’s.
- Huntington: St. Mary Medical Center-Huntington is usually a “Best Hospital” and Marshall University runs a sizeable nursing program.
- Rural: The WVU Institute for Community & Rural Health (ICRH) has info on Financial Incentives for West Virginia rural healthcare providers, including the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) and the Recruitment & Retention Community Project (RRCP). APRNs are eligible to apply for both of these programs.
Want more autonomy? As of 2019, West Virginia NPs were operating under reduced practice. NPs were required to have a 3-year “transition to practice” period, in collaboration with a physician, before they were authorized to independently prescribe legend and Schedule III-V controlled substances (but not Schedule II). Check the WV RN Board’s sections on Licensing and Law/Scope for the latest details.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
West Virginia Nursing Job Boards
- WVNA Career Center: Jobs for West Virginia nurses
- WVU Medicine Careers: Job openings in WVU hospitals & facilities
- CAMC Health System Jobs: Nursing jobs at CAMC hospitals & ambulatory locations
West Virginia APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for West Virginia Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for West Virginia Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
West Virginia Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
West Virginia Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- West Virginia Action Coalition
- West Virginia Hospital Association (WVHA)
- West Virginia Nurses Association (WVNA)
West Virginia Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – West Virginia Affiliate: Midwives Alliance of West Virginia (MAWV)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – West Virginia (AWHONN West Virginia)
- West Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists (WVANA)
- West Virginia Association of School Nurses (WVASN)
- West Virginia Emergency Nurses Association (WV ENA)
- West Virginia League for Nursing (WVLN)
- West Virginia Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (WVSPAN)
- West Virginia Organization of Nursing Leadership (WVONE)
Nursing School Overview
Wheeling is a small private Catholic university in Wheeling. It used to be Jesuit, but it went through deep cuts to its undergraduate programs and significant reorganization in the spring of 2019 because of financial exigency and it is no longer a Jesuit institution. The Department of Nursing survived, possibly due to its reputation. It's been in the top 110 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, four-year graduation rates are strong, and FNP graduates have - historically - had a 93%+ pass rate on national certification exams. Tuition is fairly affordable for a private school and the department offers specific graduate awards for students in MSN tracks. But it's a small program. For example, there may only be 2 full-time and 10 part-time nursing facultyteaching the online MSN. Because Wheeling was in a state of flux at the time we wrote this, with issues surrounding state reauthorization, HLC accreditation (e.g. a financial distress designation), and governance, we recommend you read the latest news reports about the university and check on its viability before applying.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Wheeling's online & accelerated RN to BSN/MSN is intended to help RNs with a diploma or associate degree in nursing earn both degrees in a shortened timeframe. To apply, candidates need to provide proof of a valid RN license. Once students reach the MSN level, they must also have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0, prerequisites in statistics and research, 3 letters of recommendation, and an essay explaining their interest in the master's degree. The BSN portion consists of liberal arts core credits & basic BSN requirements that can be transferred from an ADN program (e.g. anatomy, physiology, etc.). It also includes ~23 credits of upper-level nursing courses - with practicums - that are taken at Wheeling. During this time, you can complete up to 4 graduate courses (12 credits) that count toward both the BSN and MSN. The length of the MSN will depend on the concentration - see the MSN Handbook for suggested curriculum plans. For example, the MSN-FNP might take just over 3 years/6 semesters on a full-time basis and 8 semesters on a part-time basis. Nursing Administration & Nursing Education might take 2 years/5-6 semesters on a full-time basis and 9 semesters on a part-time basis. Almost all of the RN to BSN/MSN coursework will be online, but campus visits may be required for 1 BSN course and MSN students have 1 required on-campus presentation.