25 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Nursing
| NurseJournal Staff
For nurses, an advanced degree can add up to a smart investment. For one, nursing professionals with a master's degree tend to earn higher salaries in jobs with greater responsibility. But that's not all; the list below outlines 25 reasons to go to graduate school. If you're wondering "What can I do with a master's in nursing?", keep reading to learn more.
- Become a nurse practitioner: Many registered nurses choose to continue their education with a master's degree because they need it for advanced practice nursing licensure, which leads to higher-paying positions and greater responsibility.
- Take on more responsibility: Nurse practitioners work in a role somewhere in between nurses and physicians. This means they can work with more independence than their nurse peers, with several states allowing nurse practitioners to diagnose patients and prescribe medication.
- More job opportunities: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of advanced practice nurses may increase by 26% from 2018-28. In comparison, the BLS projects the job outlook for registered nurses to grow by 12% during that same time period.
- Fill a need: With both a physician shortage and nursing shortage in the U.S., advanced practice nurses with a master's degree can fill a critical need to provide healthcare services in the United States.
- Gain more skills: An advanced degree can increase your professional skill set in any profession, and the same remains true for nursing. You can master competencies that you never learned during your undergraduate education.
- Choose a concentration: If you feel passionate about one area of healthcare, you can opt to specialize in that topic for your master's degree. Some common specializations include gerontology, neonatal care, and pediatric care.
- Higher entry-level earnings: MSN-holders gain significantly higher earnings potential than their peers with a bachelor's degree. The average salary for nursing professionals with a master's degree amounts to about $94,000 annually, according to PayScale, compared to $84,000 yearly earnings for those who hold a bachelor's degree.
- Higher earnings over time: On top of that, the earning potential for nurse practitioners only increases over time. PayScale reports that experienced nurse practitioners earn a median salary of $103,139 each year, while late-career nurse practitioners earn a median annual salary of $105,695.
- Potential for leadership roles: Because of their higher education level, many MSN graduates find themselves competitive job candidates for administrative or managerial positions in nursing. Some universities even offer a master's in nursing with a leadership concentration.
- Funding opportunities: Employers sometimes offer financial assistance for nurses who want to continue their education with an advanced degree. MSN students can also find plenty of scholarships from professional associations, companies, nonprofit organizations, and universities.
- Enter one of the most lucrative areas in healthcare: Several schools offer a concentration in nurse anesthesiology, which leads to one of the highest paying jobs in the field. In fact, certified nurse anesthetists make an average annual salary of about $151,573, according to PayScale.
- Become a nurse educator: Another common concentration offered at universities involves clinical nurse education. Professionals who choose this path work at colleges and healthcare facilities to teach nursing students and prepare them for professional practice.
- Become a mentor: Even if you don't become a nurse educator, your additional schooling and experience can help you become a mentor for new nurses. You can help young nurses succeed, and that's no small accomplishment.
- Take advantage of bridge programs: Several colleges and universities offer BSN-to-MSN and RN-to-MSN programs for students who wish to go straight from their undergraduate education to an advanced degree. Schools usually offer these in an accelerated format, so degree seekers can graduate sooner.
- Work better hours: Registered nurses often need to work 12-hour shifts, which can become exhausting for anyone. Nursing professionals with master's degrees may land managerial roles or other positions that follow a more conventional eight-hour workday.
- Continue your education: A master's degree offers a path toward a doctorate, which can lead to even more advanced positions, academic jobs, or careers in research.
- Become a nurse midwife: Like other advanced practice nursing roles, nurse midwives must earn a master's degree to qualify for licensure and certification. Nursing professionals interested in this career can find several schools offering a nurse midwife specialization.
- Become an expert: You will gain plenty of knowledge about medicine and the healthcare industry by taking a year or two of advanced nursing courses. This expertise can only help you become more proficient at your job.
- Gain respect in the workspace: With master's-level knowledge and expertise, your coworkers and other healthcare professionals may seek you out for advice or guidance with certain precarious medical situations.
- Online degrees offer flexibility: If you're hesitant to pursue a master's degree because of the inconveniences, such as driving a long distance to attend classes on campus or participating in classes during the day, many online nursing programs allow you to take charge of your own study schedule.
- Carry out research: Master's programs often involve a research component, such as a thesis. If you are interested in exploring a certain part of your field, you can take advantage of this research requirement to do exactly that.
- Expand your professional network: One of the most important parts of attending graduate school is making connections with other people in your industry through courses and conferences. You may even meet a potential employer.
- Start a stable career path: Although several industries have been hit hard by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry still needs workers, especially those as versatile and knowledgeable as advanced practice nurses.
- Take advantage of unique opportunities: If you're feeling especially adventurous, you can go a somewhat nontraditional route and use your skills to travel around the world. You could work as a health volunteer for the Peace Corps, for example, or sign up for Doctors without Borders to provide healthcare services in countries that need it most.
- Personal fulfillment: For many, a master's degree isn't just about career opportunities or a higher salary. Obtaining an advanced degree takes hard work, and it comes with a commensurate sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.
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