6 Reasons Why You Should Get A Masters Degree in Nursing

Why get nursing master degree

You were always the compassionate one. In high school, you were always the first to volunteer. Looking at your personality traits, your school counselor, family and friends pegged you for a career in health care. And when you found out registered nurses (RNs) earned around $65,000 a year, this made your decision a tad easier. You graduated high school and enrolled in a nursing diploma, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree – take your pick. After graduation, you sat for the NCLEX-RN exam and became a licensed registered nurse.

The Story Continues ...

It was compassion, once again, which made you work long hours. You didn’t mind working the graveyard shift, weekends and even holidays. That thank you with a smile from the patients made it all worth it. But now you are well settled in your job, you know what it asks of you, what your supervisor expects and you also keep up with the latest developments. You see your supervisor holding a cushy job, doing paper work mostly, working 9-5, with a Monday to Friday schedule. You want that. You want more out of your professional life.

Shooting for the Stars

We all like to advance in our chosen careers; its human to desire progress. Nobody likes to be stagnant – it’s just not healthy. You know that it is time to move on, so what should you do?

The answer is simple – Study More! The more advanced your degree, better the chances of you getting a more challenging role as a nursing professional.

Have you thought about working towards a Master degree in Nursing? It’s a 2-year program, and can be pursued without first completing a Bachelors. The degree can help you qualify as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). You may know that certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse midwife, family nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse manager are all APRNs.

Why go for Masters?

Well for one, it can be completed in as little as 2 years and look at the possible salary jump after that. RNs earned $65,470 in 2012, while nurse midwives earned $89,600 for the same year.

Of course, it’s not all about the money in the end, you'd like more responsibilities, a more focused area to pursue. APRNs provide a wide variety of specialized services in community-based settings. These range from primary and preventive care to mental health and anesthesia.

Let’s take a closer look at the MSN program.

Master of Science in Nursing

First up – You don't need to have a BSN before enrolling in this program. RN to MSN programs are, for this reason, called “bridge” programs. These are specifically designed for RNs with an ADN or a nursing diploma. And yes you can still complete your masters in 2 years. You can apply for the program with a bachelor’s degree other than a BSN as well. In this case, it would take you more than 2 years to complete the degree.

The MSN candidates learn in a research rich environment, where a rigorous curriculum is followed along with clinical training specializing in evidence-based patient care and education.

The admission requirements may vary with each school. The applicant will also be judged on their academic background. It is therefore advised that you attend your prospective school’s open house or directly contact the admissions office and make an appointment.

What do APRNs do?

Here are some of the things APRNs are required to do,

  • Participate in research

  • Arrange for patient consultation/referral

  • Provide patient/family education and counseling

  • Evaluate patient’s medical needs and modify plan of care accordingly

  • Maintain patient records

  • Order/develop therapeutic plan of care

  • Develop deferential diagnosis

  • Order and interpret diagnostic studies and other lab results

  • Perform comprehensive physical examinations and obtain health histories

You may have been performing some of these duties to a certain extent as an RN, but if you'd like to solely perform some of these duties on a more permanent basis, then MSN is the way forward.

So here is a short summary for to take note of,


  • Get an RN license

  • Get yourself an MSN degree from an accredited school

  • Don't fail the national certification exam


As APRNs provide specialized services, therefore your state would require you to get licensed.

For instance, if you graduated with an MSN in a nurse midwifery specialization, you'd need to obtain the relevant certification from The American Midwifery Certification Board. You will also be required to renew your certification after every five years. Same goes for nurse anesthetists, who need to be certified from The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists – renewal of certification will be after every two years in this case. It is advised that you check with the respective boards for their certification requirements.

Online MSN

You cannot become an APRN by reading books alone. The degree requires hands-on training as well and therefore a 100% online MSN degree is not possible. However, a few tracks or specialties may be offered in a hybrid format wherein theoretical courses are completed online while the school arranges for a medical facility for practical experience. Some schools may not be able to offer you a placement in your area, therefore check with the school before enrollment.

Here is the rundown of the benefits,

Benefits of RN to MSN

  • More independence

  • Better pay (subject to employer and location)

  • APRNs can prescribe medications

  • Better work hours especially in the case of APRNs

If you're following in the steps of Florence Nightingale, well and good, however the field of nursing has changed a lot over the century. It’s not all charity work anymore. Nurses in the US make a comfortable living and have a number of exciting opportunities at their disposal.


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