Nursing is becoming more specialized as health care itself becomes more technical. Obtaining a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree equips registered nurses with the expertise to improve their patients’ care in this shifting environment and to advance their own careers. Here’s a list of some of the advantages completing an RN to MSN degree can bring to your nursing career:
- More Knowledge: Nurses who progress from RN to earn an MSN degree are continually increasing their knowledge and applying it in ways that benefit patients. These nurses have the skills and expertise to fill leadership roles and address complex health care issues. Holding a graduate degree in nursing will increase your autonomy in day-to-day practice, allowing you to do more without immediate supervision or the need to ask for direction.
- Specialization: If you’re passionate about a particular area of nursing, like nursing informatics, oncology, anesthesia or other specializations, an MSN degree can help you become an advanced practice nurse.1 Because some fields, like nursing education, call for more in-depth knowledge than general nursing, they require bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Careers open to nurses with an MSN degree also include non-traditional positions such as nurse consultant and health care policy expert, which often demand a graduate nursing degree.
- Career Advancement: There are more career advancement opportunities for nurses holding master’s degrees than for RNs. With this degree, you will be qualified for a wide variety of positions, including nursing management, advanced practice, policy development, teaching and consulting. If you hope to work at any of America’s top teaching hospitals or to become a senior manager at virtually any health care or wellness organization, completing an MSN degree is a good choice. These institutions may give preference to job candidates with graduate degrees in nursing.
- Pending Licensing Requirements: Since the National Council of State Boards of Nursing launched its Nurse Licensure Compact in 2000 allowing multistate licensing, states increasingly require graduate level training for nurses.2 The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, in fact, recommends doctoral-level training. Beginning a graduate program now will prepare you for the coming licensure and certification changes.
- Longer Careers: In 2016, the hospital turnover rate for registered nurses was 17.1 percent,3 and a 2001 study found that 40 percent of hospital nurses experienced abnormally high levels of burnout, even among health care providers.4 Nurses holding MSN degrees have career options that are less stressful than general nursing. For example, if you have an MSN degree, you may keep normal business hours or work in settings that don’t require routine 12-hour shifts. Less burnout means you are more likely to continue working in the profession you love.
These are only a fraction of the benefits you may experience by obtaining a master of science in nursing degree. If you’re interested in advancing from RN to MSN, check out online degree options at Sacred Heart University and request more information or call (877) 791-7181
4 Aiken LH, Clarke SP, Sloane DM. et al. Nurses' reports on hospital care in five countries. Health Aff (Millwood). 2001; 20: 43-53.