What is a Post Master’s Certificate and Why Should I Get One?

Post Master's Certificate Nurse Practitioner with patient
Post Master's Certificate Nurse Practitioner with patient

As every Registered Nurse knows, there’s no limit when it comes to learning more about nursing. Emerging technologies, clinical breakthroughs, and updates to patient care best practices are constantly pushing the limits of what nurses are expected to know.

Nurses can gain much of this valuable knowledge in the field. But when it comes to practicing in a new concentration or moving into a leadership or teaching role, employers look for credentials that demonstrate what a nurse has learned. For nurses who have already earned a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a post-master’s certificate can open the door to additional opportunities.

Let’s go over what a post-master’s certificate in nursing is, the basic types of certificates available, and the possible benefits of pursuing one.

What is a post-master’s certificate program?

A post-master’s certificate in nursing is a program for registered nurses who have already earned a master’s or doctoral degree in the field. These certificate programs continue a nurse’s education and allow them to earn expertise in a new area of specialty. Family-focused primary care, adult-gerontology care, and psychiatric/mental health are possible concentrations of a post-master’s certificate. All three of these programs widen the possibilities for how an RN practices.

The curriculum of any post-master’s certificate is designed to prepare nurses to take a national licensing exam in their additional concentration. Nurses with a post-master’s certificate, in addition to licensure, become qualified for management and teaching roles.

Types of post-master’s certificate programs for nurses

Some of the most in-demand nursing positions require a post-master’s certificate when hiring. Post-master’s certificate in nursing programs available include:

Family-focused primary care

This post-master’s certificate prepares RNs to become family nurse practitioners, also known as FNPs. With this type of certificate, you can transition into family-focused primary care. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians in the next ten years. FNPs are expected to be in demand to fill that gap.

Adult gerontology primary care

A post-master’s certificate in adult gerontology primary care is a pathway to becoming an AGPCP. This type of provider screens patients, orders tests, and provides treatment options for adults. The number of older adults in the United States is expected to increase exponentially as baby boomers grow older, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) — including licensed AGPCPs — will be needed to provide care for them.

Mental health practice

The need for mental health practitioners is not slowing down anytime soon. The US is in the throes of a well-documented mental health crisis. This post-master’s certificate concentration prepares nurses to become PMHNPs at the front lines of this crisis. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) specialize in independently assessing, diagnosing, and providing treatment for people of all ages who live with mental health conditions.

What are the benefits of a post-master’s certificate program?

A post-master’s certificate program can enhance your practice in ways that are personal as well as professional.

A post-master’s certificate can give you the ability to help more people.

Many nurses get into the field because they are uniquely talented at caring for people. A post-master’s certificate can help you become qualified to serve additional subsets of patients. You may already have experience in helping these populations in the field, but a certificate gives you the credentials you need to provide care even more independently. With this educational enrichment, you’ll also be better positioned to advocate for your patients within the healthcare system.

A post-master’s certificate can mean a larger scope of care and more career options.

Earning a post-master’s certificate can prepare you to sit for additional certification exams and licenses in your state. These licenses will give you increased autonomy in your practice. Having these certifications increases your earning potential, but it also changes the nature of what you can do when you’re at work.

A post-master’s certificate positions you to fill a growing need for primary care nurse practitioners.

Data shows us that primary care nurse practitioners will be increasingly relied upon for prescriptions, diagnosis, and treatment plans as the number of primary care physicians dwindles. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the need for APRNs to skyrocket up to 40 percent in the next ten years, in part due to the physician shortage.

A post-master’s certificate quickly prepares you for leadership opportunities.

A post-master’s certificate in nursing is a relatively short time commitment that adds a lot of heft to your leadership resume. These APRN certificates can take as little as 1.5 to 2 years to complete. This is a time investment that can pay off quickly since you will have a competitive edge when it comes to applying for management positions. Some programs are even offered entirely online, except for your clinical requirement, so you don’t have to leave the field to further your education.

A post-master’s certificate can provide educational enrichment.

New technologies mean that researchers are always learning more about how to give patients the best possible health outcomes. And since it is nurses who are at the forefront of administering care. Nurses at the master’s and doctoral levels should be well-informed in the state of the nursing art.

Learning independently is wonderful, of course, but it can have limitations. A post-master’s certificate offers a well-rounded view of advancements in nursing that you can bring into your everyday practice as you help patients.

What’s the best way to get a post-master’s certificate?

A post-master’s certificate in nursing can enhance your practice while preparing you for career advancement. With several in-demand concentrations to choose from, there is ample opportunity for personal and professional growth. Choosing a post-master’s certificate that’s offered fully online can maximize your investment as you integrate the learning process into your established routines.

The Passan School of Nursing at Wilkes University has been preparing nurses for excellence in the field for over 40 years. Their post-master’s certificate programs combine a robust and challenging learning environment with hands-on support, clinical placement assistance, and caring faculty. It’s a combination specifically engineered for nurses who have already earned a DNP or MSN and are ready to become licensed as ACPCPs, PMHNPs, or FNPs.

Learn more about how to earn your post-master’s nurse practitioner certificate from Wilkes University Online by reading more about the programs available.