4 Advantages of Getting an MSN Degree
Whether you’re a nursing professional, a Registered Nurse, or a nursing student you might be looking to taking your career to the next level. To obtain the most advanced nursing positions, one of the biggest requirements is that you complete a master’s degree in nursing, also called a master of science in nursing or MSN.
How To Get Your Master’s Degree In Nursing (MSN)
MSN programs are similar to other master’s level programs in that they usually take about two years to complete (if you’re taking a full course load, that is).
What makes nursing programs unique is that there are a couple of different routes toward earning a master’s degree.
Types of MSN Degrees
1. Direct-Entry MSN
For applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and no nursing experience. This path takes you through entry-level nursing coursework first.
The most traditional way is to go for your master’s after already completing a bachelor’s degree program in nursing (BSN). However, many working RNs may not have their bachelor’s degree since you can become licensed after earning an associate degree.
For applicants with a BSN. This MSN program takes around two years, full-time. The MSN coursework can include training to specialize as a nurse practitioner or other advanced practice role.
For applicants with a two-year nursing degree or a diploma RN, there are programs called RN-to-MSN, which helps nurses who do not have bachelor’s degree in nursing or another field. With an RN-to-MSN bridge program, you can pursue a master’s without having to earn a bachelor’s first. These programs usually take a bit longer and might be more intensive since there is more material to cover.
All MSN programs cover both general nursing topics like anatomy and pharmacology, along with coursework in a variety of nursing specializations, depending on which track you choose to pursue. You will also have to complete a certain number of clinical rotation hours.
When choosing an MSN program as a means to earn an advanced nursing certification, make sure that it will satisfy the requirements so you can sit for the corresponding licensing exams.
This path is similar to RN-to-BSN in that applicants have a two-year nursing degree. Some programs that use this term, however, require an associates degree in nursing, and don’t allow diploma RNs.
5. Bridge RN-to-MSN
This is for RNs with a two-year degree in nursing and a 4-year degree in a non-nursing field.
Advantages Of Getting Your MSN
Now that you have an idea of what an MSN program entails, here are some of the biggest reasons why people choose to complete them.
1. An MSN can open up new career doors
Besides the fact that some nursing specializations require a master’s degree, certain positions at prestigious hospitals and healthcare organizations may give preference to candidates who have their MSN as well.
If you have any intentions of focusing on one type of nursing, like nursing informatics or nurse practitioner or taking on a managerial role in a hospital, completing an MSN is probably in your best interest.
Following are some advanced practice roles that require an MSN
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Educator
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
2. You have the potential to earn a higher salary with an advanced degree
As mentioned above, some advanced nursing practices do require an MSN, but they also have significantly higher salaries than what an RN typically earns.
3. There are many program options
From part-time programs to accelerated ones, and even online MSN degrees, there are more choices than ever for earning an advanced nursing degree. Students can basically go at their own pace, and customize their course schedules thanks to schools catering more to adult students, and technology that allows for distance learning. This is especially helpful for people who would like to continue working while they go to school.
4. You’ll gain a deeper knowledge of a specific area of nursing
Some advanced nursing practices may require learning an advanced skill set than what typical RNs are exposed to, whether it’s working exclusively with cardiac patients, in a neonatal unit, or as a forensic nurse. MSN programs often allow students to choose a specialty track so they go more in-depth with their studies, and become experts in their field.
Getting your MSN is certainly an option for nurses who want to change the trajectory of their careers, earn more, or specialize. But by no means do you have to feel pressure to get one right away.
Many nurses wait until they are in a good place financially or have more time to dedicate to a program of study before they head back to the classroom. If you’re considering an MSN, it is a big decision, so think through the pros and cons to decide if it’s a good professional move for you.