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Reasons to Get a Master's degree in Nursing

Reasons to Get a Master's degree in Nursing
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No matter what field you choose to pursue your bachelor’s degree in, you will inevitably be relieved when you complete your four years of undergrad. The hard work and late nights paid off -- you’re done with college!

For many people, a bachelor’s degree will supply them with the knowledge and requisite education to pursue a long and prosperous career. However, for some people, that bachelor’s degree is only a stepping stone on their journey of higher education. While only 8.9% of Americans will achieve a masters’ degree, the ones who do typically do so because of the career advancement options that are offered with the completion of a masters.

Nursing is one such career. While a BSN -- or Bachelor of Science in Nursing -- can offer many amazing career opportunities, the topics studied tend to be more broad. An MSN -- or Master of Science in Nursing -- allows the student to really hone their skills and knowledge in a specific area, which can lead to more responsibility and higher pay.

So what are the potential career advancement opportunities that come with an MSN? Keep reading to find out.

Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse, or (APRN). As defined by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NP’s are “licensed, autonomous clinicians focused on managing people’s health conditions and preventing disease.” NP’s are allowed to practice autonomously in 21 states without being overseen by a doctor. Even if you don’t practice in one of those states, nurse practitioners are still allowed to prescribe medicine in all 50 states. NP’s have the authority to order diagnostic tests and interpret lab results.

With all of this authority and responsibility, an NP’s maximum degree only has to be a specific two year master's’ degree, as opposed to a physician who must attend four years of medical school, which is then followed by years of residency. While the pay of an NP is less than that of a primary care physician, it is still a highly lucrative position according to US News.

To become a Nurse Practitioner, a candidate must have completed a bachelor’s in nursing, and have received a Masters of Science in Nursing. Many MSN programs only take two years to complete, but many also require you to have completed a requisite amount of time as a registered nurse before beginning the master's program. If you are currently looking for a job as an NP, check out our database of available hospital positions here.

Additional Areas of Focus

While the nurse practitioner position may be the most talked about when discussing an MSN, there are other, and just as equally important, areas of focus for students to pursue.

  • Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
    • CRNA’s are registered nurses who administer anesthetics to patients. In many cases, CRNA’s perform the same services as an anesthesiologist. Once you have completed your MSN, you must pass a certification exam. Once you pass, you can begin your career as a certified nurse anesthetist.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
    • A CNS is an advanced practice nurse who has a specialty in a particular area. This specialty can be in a specific disease or illness, type of setting such as an ER, or a specific demographic such as women’s health or geriatrics. CNS’s have the authority to diagnose, as well as to serve as the primary specialist for patients.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
    • As with the others, a CNM is an advanced practice RN who cares for women during pregnancy as well as after the baby is born. The designation of CNM can be achieved by satisfying the requisite experience requirements, and passing a certification exam from the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

Joint Programs

One of the best opportunities associated with an MSN is the ability to pair it with an additional master’s degree. People choose this path because it allows the student to learn complimentary skills. Knowing exactly what your career goals are is important in finding the right pairing. Combining your MSN with a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) could help set you up for future leadership roles in the nursing field.

Pairing with a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) is excellent for individuals planning for a future that involves working in administrative roles. Finally, a Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) should be considered by anyone who wants to someday work in a leadership or administrative role, but isn’t quite sure of what role they want to pursue yet.

Whatever you future goals are in the nursing field, pursuing a master’s degree in nursing can set you up for a wonderful career that’s filled with many fun challenges and opportunities. It may mean a few extra years of school, but the added opportunities -- not to mention the increased pay -- will certainly make it worth your while. Once you graduate, make sure to browse our job listings to see who may be looking for an MSN in your desired area!

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