(Gloucestercitynews.net)(December 30, 2019)--The profession of nursing is one of the most popular healthcare professions in the United States. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that there are 3.8 million licensed registered nurses (RNs) nationwide. Of that number, 84.5% are currently actively employed in nursing.
Even so, there is a widely accepted consensus that there exists a very real shortage of nurses in the workforce. This fact might lend itself to being an explanation as to why more and more students are applying to nursing school each year.
With figures and facts like that, those who wish to pursue a job in nursing might find themselves looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and make the most of their career. This is especially true for those who might not want to work as a general staff-nurse for the entirety of their career.
One of the best ways to broaden your possibilities when it comes to your career in nursing is to earn a Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN degree.
What is an MSN?
There are four types of degrees that fall into the category of Master of Science in Nursing. These are:
- RN to MSN
- BSN to MSN
- ADN to MSN
- ASN to MSN
As you can gather from the names, each type of program is designed to meet a nurse wherever they may be in regards to education level. The length and difficulty of each degree will be determined by the degree(s) already possessed by the student. Generally speaking, an MSN can take up to two years to earn.
While earning an MSN, nurses complete core nursing classes and clinical studies in addition to classes and study related to specific specializations. This is one of the main attractions of the MSN degree on the whole. The ability to specialize in a particular area of nursing isn’t really available to those who choose to stop their education at the bachelor level.
The goal of the degree is to prepare nurses for advanced practice roles within the various specializations in healthcare. Some of the more common specializations that you can select from include:
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
Nurses should consider an MSN as a stepping stone by which they can open up multiple different opportunities for their careers, especially if they want to go for further education.
Why Get an MSN?
Beyond the obvious benefits of being able to specialize in a particular area and advance a nursing career, there are many reasons why a nurse should consider going for an MSN. Not least of these reasons is the appeal of earning a higher salary.
For example, if you decide to work as a nurse anesthetist, you could find yourself earning over $150,000 a year. While that number refers to the highest earners with an MSN, on average a nurse will earn $12,000 more than those who only have a BSN.
Furthermore, anyone who desires to go on to earn any of the most advanced degrees offered in the nursing world should look into earning an MSN their first step. It is essential for a nurse to have an MSN if they hope to go on to earn a doctorate or a PhD in nursing. These degrees are more focused on the development and implementation of positive change in the nursing and healthcare communities on a grand scale.
Other career path options that become available to nurses with an MSN aren’t necessarily limited to direct-patient care. With an MSN degree, a nurse can choose to go into the administrative or clinical research sides of healthcare.
The benefits of earning an MSN degree aren’t limited to the individual nurse, either. Many experts credit the shortage of nurses in the workforce in part to a similar shortage of nurse educators. As leaders, nurses can act as educators and mentors, helping to advance the next generation of nurses as well.
Because of the skills gained through an MSN program, nurses become more equipped with the knowledge and abilities needed to act in more leadership-related roles. A community-wide effort by existing nurses to help further the careers of others can only help boost the healthcare industry on the whole and can contribute to the end of the nursing shortage.
How to Earn an MSN
The first step to take toward getting an MSN is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This is your typical bachelor’s degree in nursing that can be earned by completing a four-year university course. More and more people looking to become nurses are opting to attend a four-year college for their initial nursing degree as opposed to going for a two-year degree, or an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN).
If you are in the latter group and only have an ADN, you would need to find a bridge program, such as an RN-to-BSN program, so that you can complete your bachelor’s. After thism, you can then look into earning your MSN.
The good news is that once you have a BSN, there are several options that you can decide between for your MSN. Online BSN to MSN programs are great for nurses who are trying to maintain a full-time job while working toward their degree.
If the thought of online education doesn’t appeal to you, there are a vast amount of more traditional programs to choose from to earn an MSN.
Whatever your career aspirations are, a Masters of Science in Nursing can be extremely beneficial to reaching them. Not only that, but more nurses possessing such degrees can only lead to better and brighter things in the world of healthcare.
With so many accredited programs out there designed to meet nurses where they already are at in their education, anyone who wants to earn an MSN is sure to find the right degree that will help them make the most of their career in nursing.