Depending on how you want to grow your nursing career, earning your master’s degree may be crucial in moving forward and meeting your future goals. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate degree that can help nurses further develop their clinical skills and specialize in a specific area of nursing. Obtaining a higher level of education isn’t required to pursue a worthwhile and enjoyable nursing career, but an advanced degree usually comes with several attractive benefits. If you’re on the fence about making the commitment to go back to school, here are five reasons to consider.
Top 5 Perks of Earning an MSN
1. Give Your Salary a Boost
Probably the top reason to earn an MSN is the potential for a substantial salary boost. Registered nurses with advanced education generally demand higher salaries. They’ve enhanced their experience in the field by gaining additional academic knowledge and skills – a feat that takes time and effort, so it’s usually well-compensated. Some of the highest-paying nursing positions actually require an MSN, such as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. The starting salary for some MSN-required positions can be higher by $20,000+ per year compared to other staff RN roles.
2. Increase Your Career Pathways
Some hospitals and healthcare organizations favor applicants with an MSN for specialized roles, even if the position doesn’t require an advanced degree. Like any career, advanced education, training, and credentials broaden your employment opportunities. In the nursing field, advanced degrees also open career pathways that may be difficult or even impossible to enter without them.
An MSN is the standard educational requirement for many advanced practice roles. RNs interested in pursuing a career as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) need an MSN to qualify for national APRN certification. Following the career path to become a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse-midwife (CNM), or clinical nurse educator also requires a master’s degree. Some MSN career pathways may even lead to less traditional work settings, and result in some of the top pay scales.
3. Open Doors to Managerial Roles
Corresponding with opening career paths to advanced practice roles, earning an MSN can also open doors to leadership roles. If the managerial aspects of nursing appeal to you, it may be harder to gain an administrative position without an advanced degree. Earning a higher education helps prepare you for the increasingly complex demands of leadership roles.
An MSN also allows you to practice with less supervision while honing your own supervisory skills to complement your clinical skills. Specialized roles in the hierarchy of nursing that a Master’s-prepared nurse might pursue include nurse manager, director of nursing and chief nursing officer positions. A master’s degree or higher is a requirement for the top two positions on the nurse management ladder and are recommended for the lowest rung.
4. Opportunities for Further Learning
Pursuing an MSN allows you to specialize in a specific nursing role or patient population you might be especially passionate about. You gain expertise in your chosen field through customized coursework and clinical training focused specifically on the skillset you want to enhance. Earning your MSN also paves the way for obtaining further credentials.
Once you’ve completed your MSN, you now have the opportunity to further your nursing studies to earn the highest degrees in nursing practice. Completing your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) degree catapults you to the absolute top tier in the world of nursing. DNP and Ph.D. degrees equip nurses to apply their vast knowledge to impact patients’ lives and the healthcare system as a whole.
5. Possibility for Improved Schedules
Working as a nurse typically involves long shifts and being available to work on nights, weekends and major holidays, especially for bedside nurses. Earning your MSN and stepping into senior-level positions often provides the perk of a more traditional work schedule. APRNs may have the ability to choose their preferred work hours, and administrative roles may lead to working regular weekday hours. Depending on the nursing role, you may have a set 40-hour schedule that allows more free time to spend with loved ones or pursue favored pastimes.
Drawbacks of Pursuing an MSN
While there are numerous perks to earning your MSN, educate yourself on the drawbacks to ensure you’re ready to tackle the challenge. The two top considerations are often the cost and difficulty level.
MSN programs are expensive. Coming up with the funds to pay for tuition can be a major deterrent for some nurses. However, many healthcare employers offer tuition reimbursement programs. These programs are relatively common because they provide hospitals with a way to attract and retain quality nurses, especially in areas where nurses are in high demand. You’ll also find various grants, scholarships and other financial aid for nurses. Be sure to explore all your options to be financially prepared for the expense.
Earning an advanced degree can be extremely challenging under normal circumstances. It becomes even more difficult if you’re attempting to complete your MSN and juggle your career and a family. Even if you take your time and/or go the online route, coursework and clinical hours are time-consuming and mentally demanding. However, you can earn your degree with a strong support network at work and home. Be prepared to dedicate a substantial number of hours each week to your studies and reshuffle some responsibilities to give you the time you need to fulfill your educational goals.
No matter where you are in your nursing education or career, if you’re looking for nursing job opportunities, Vivian Health can help. Use our job proposals to match your job search criteria to available positions and land your perfect nursing job.