In Wyoming, earning a Master of Science in Nursing paves the way to advanced clinical practice and the opportunity to receive a highly competitive salary. Other MSN specialty tracks are specifically designed to prepare RNs for non-clinical roles in nursing administration, nursing education, informatics and more.
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in Wyoming enjoy the freedom of full practice autonomy, including prescriptive authority and the ability to provide treatment to patients without physician supervision. As a result, many nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists in Wyoming enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes with fulfilling the primary care needs of the patients in their care.
Advanced clinical skills and the ability to work independently also bring significant monetary rewards. In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the 4,850 licensed RNs in Wyoming earned an average annual salary of $60,790. That year, the total number of APRNs in the state in all roles was counted in the hundreds; however, this elite group earned significantly more. For example, nurse practitioners in Wyoming earned an average of $90,400, while the state’s nurse anesthetists earned the fifth highest salary in the nation for their specialty at $192,500.
Wyoming continues to move forward with progressive legislation to provide a better practice environment for nurses in the state. In 2015, Wyoming introduced a bill to propose joining the nursing licensure compact, which would allow APRNs who hold a license in Wyoming to practice in 24 other participating states without obtaining additional licensure.
With a high demand for APRNs in all roles, the ability to practice independently, and some of the best salaries in the nation, Wyoming is an ideal state for RNs seeking an MSN degree.
State Licensing Requirements for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Wyoming
In order to be eligible for APRN licensure through the Wyoming State Board of Nursing (WSBN), candidates must:
- Hold a current RN license through the WSBN
- Complete an accredited graduate program with a clinical focus in an APRN role
- Take and pass a national certification examination in the same clinical focus
The WSBN recognizes four distinct advanced practice roles:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
NP and CNS students are required to specify a patient population focus within their educational program. Foci options vary from program to program. Some examples of patient population foci recognized by the WSBN include family/lifespan, pediatrics, neonatology, psychiatric/mental health, women’s health, and adult-gerontology.
After earning an MSN, RNs seeking licensure must become nationally certified in their patient population and APRN role through a national certification organization. Organizations and specializations approved by the WSBN are listed below:
Registered Nurse Practitioner (RNP)
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (ACNP-BC)
- Adult Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (ANP-BC)
- Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC)
- Gerontological Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (GNP-BC)
- Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PPCNP-BC)
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (AGACNP-BC)
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (AGPCNP-BC)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PMHNP-BC)
- Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PMHNP-BC)
- School Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (SNP-BC)
- AACN Certification Corporation
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Adult-Gerontology (ACNPC-AG)
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Adult (ACNPC)
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care (CPNP-PC)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Acute Care (CPNPAC)
- Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)
- National Certification Corporation
- Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (WHNP-BC)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (NNP-BC)
Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- Certified in Nurse-Midwifery (CNM)
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- AACN Certification Corporation
- Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (Adult-Gerontology) (ACCNS-AG)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (Pediatric) (ACCNS-P)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist; Wellness through Acute Care (Neonatal) (ACCNS-N)
- Acute/Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (Adult, Pediatric & Neonatal) (CCNS)
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (ACNS-BC)
- Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (AGCNS-BC)
- Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (PMHCNS-BC)
- Child/Adolescent Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (PMHCNS-BC)
- Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (GCNS-BC)
- Home Health Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (HHCNS-BC)
- Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (PCNS-BC)
- Public/Community Health Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified (PHCNS-BC)
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Wyoming
While Wyoming does offer traditional on-campus, in-state MSN programs, online programs have become the preferred option for RNs seeking higher education. All accredited programs that prepare APRNs include a core in pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology and health assessment, and are split into two sections: theory/didactic courses and clinical hours.
Online programs allow clinical requirements to be completed in hospitals, physician’s offices, and clinics in Wyoming that have partnered with the university to offer clinical opportunities in locations that are easily accessible to local students. Theory hours and clinical requirements will vary from program to program, but most MSN programs require at least 500 clinical hours in the patient population area of focus.
The WSBN does not individually accredit and approve MSN programs; however, the state recognizes all MSN programs accredited by national bodies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist Programs – Nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist programs are typically accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). NP and CNS students will be required to declare a patient population focus and complete clinical hours in that focus. Although clinical and didactic requirements will vary by program, all NP and CNS master’s programs will require a minimum of 500 clinical hours within the nurses’ specific patient population.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Programs – All CRNA programs must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA), the only certifying body for CRNAs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The COA publishes a list of accredited programs, including online MSN options. According to the COA, accredited CRNA programs must:
- Be a minimum of 24 months in length
- Admit only students who have at least one year of experience as an RN in a critical care setting
The COA requires that basic coursework for CRNA master’s programs include the following:
- Pharmacology of anesthetic agents and adjuvant drugs, including concepts in chemistry/biochemistry
- Professional aspects of nurse anesthesia practice
- Basic and advanced principles of anesthesia practice, including physics, equipment, technology and pain management, research and clinical correlation conferences, radiology, and ultrasound
In addition to the requirements listed above, in order to meet accreditation standards, CRNA master’s programs must require a minimum of 600 clinical cases and 2000 clinical hours in a variety of procedures and specialty practice.
Certified Nurse Midwife Programs – The WSBN recognizes CNM programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the only accrediting body for nurse midwife programs. A list of accredited programs, including online options, is listed here.
According to the ACME’s Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice, accredited midwife programs must include the following fundamental courses:
- Anatomy and physiology, including pathophysiology
- Normal growth and development
- Psychosocial, sexual, and behavioral development
- Basic epidemiology
- Pharmacokinetics and pharmacotherapeutics
- Principles of individual and group health education
- Bioethics related to the care of women and newborns
- Clinical genetics and genomics
Selecting the Appropriate Type of MSN Program Based on Current Information
RNs seeking APRN licensure in Wyoming must choose the appropriate educational program based on their prior education.
RNs with an Associate Degree in Nursing are required to obtain both a BSN and an MSN to become an APRN in Wyoming. RN-to-MSN bridge programs allow students the opportunity to earn both degrees in an accelerated program that is typically three years long.
RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are eligible to enroll in traditional two-year terminal MSN programs.
Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in an area other than nursing are eligible to pursue entry-level (also called direct-entry) MSN programs, allowing students to earn an RN license and MSN degree in pursuit of APRN licensure.
Laws Concerning Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority in Wyoming
The National Council of State Board of Nursing (NCSBN) has developed the APRN Consensus Model, a widely respected nationwide model seeking to create uniform APRN legislation in all states. Legislation includes standards for educational programs, uniformity of licensing requirements, and similar practice acts in each state. The goal of the consensus model is to move each state closer to allowing APRNs full independent practice authority within the scope of their education and training. Wyoming is among the eleven states to fully implement the model.
The freedom of full practice authority in Wyoming allows APRNs to fulfill primary care needs for their specific patient populations, run their own practices, and prescribe medication and controlled substances without physician involvement or supervision.
For a fee of $70, Wyoming APRNs in all roles can apply for prescriptive authority in the state, provided they have completed one of the following requirements within five years of the date of application:
- Thirty contact hours of education in pharmacology and clinical management of drug therapy or pharmacotherapeutics
- Two semester credit hours in the topics listed above
- Three quarter credit hours in the topics listed above
Applicants can download the application form online and mail it to the WSBN at:
130 Hobbs Avenue, Suite B
Cheyenne, WY 82002
APRN License Renewal and Continuing Education in Wyoming
In Wyoming, APRN licenses are eligible for renewal every two years on even-numbered years. In order to renew the APRN license, candidates must submit proof of current national certification to the WSBN. No contact hours are required by the WSBN to renew the basic license.
APRNs who hold prescriptive authority will be required to separately renew their prescriptive authority every two years, at the same time as their license renewal. In order to renew, APRNs will need to complete fifteen contact hours of education in pharmacology and clinical management of drug therapy or pharmacotherapeutics within the two-year span of the renewal cycle. These contact hours must specifically identify which credits are applicable to pharmacology and can be obtained through nursing seminars, conferences, workshops and other educational offerings. The WSBN lists educational offerings in the state on their website.
APRNS will also be required to renew their national certification and complete continuing education requirements on a regular cycle through the national certifying body, usually once every two years. The number of continuing education hours and clinical focus of the hours will vary, but most national certifications will require completion of online theory hours as well as contact hours in the form of workshops, conferences and seminars held at local hospitals or through recognized nursing associations.