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Issues in Nursing Today: How Having an MSN Can Help

The U.S. healthcare system is becoming increasingly complex and the nursing profession is undergoing many changes. Demographic shifts have resulted in greater numbers of aged and chronically ill patients. The Affordable Care Act has led to millions of Americans gaining greater access to healthcare services. There have been skyrocketing healthcare costs without accompanying excellence in quality and health outcomes. All of these challenges are complicated by an existing nurse shortage, an aging nurse workforce, a shortage of nursing faculty and the prospect of a more severe nurse shortage to come.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recommended that nurses achieve higher levels of education through an education system that promotes seamless academic progression. Nurses today have many options to pursue advanced education. For those holding an ADN or a BSN, Spring Arbor University offers online MSN programs that will provide the required foundation to meet the nursing demands of today’s health care environment. MSN programs prepare nursing professionals for work in advanced practice roles as nursing faculty, or for roles in nursing administration and clinical leadership. Let’s explore the issues facing nursing and how obtaining a master’s degrees can help your nursing career.

Increased Need for Nurse Practitioners

Demand for primary care services is projected to increase through 2020. Analysis by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) estimates that demand for primary care physicians will grow more rapidly than the physician supply, causing a projected shortage of approximately 20,400 physicians. Thankfully, the supply of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) can mitigate this shortage if they continue to be effectively integrated into the primary care delivery system. If fully utilized, the percentage of primary care services provided by NPs and PAs will grow from 23 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2020.

Patient-Centered Care is Becoming the Norm

Health care reform has led to a shift from a provider-centric healthcare system where the provider knows best to a patient-centric system that engages the patient in developing self-management and behavioral change capacity. Nurses have long been advocates of patient-centered care and are poised to make an impact in this new delivery system. Research has shown that, when compared to physicians, NPs have better results on measures of patient follow-up, consultation time, satisfaction, and the provision of screening, assessment and counseling. They also provide care that is equivalent to that of physicians in regard to health status, treatment practices and prescribing behavior.

RN-MSN Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs Increasingly Prominent

The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) recommend strengthening nursing bridge programs. The major advantage of bridge programs is that they are designed for nurses with an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree who wish to earn their graduate degree in nursing. When you complete the RN-MSN Nurse Practitioner Bridge Program, you will increase your earning potential and move up the nursing career ladder. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2017 median annual salary for an MSN-level nurse practitioner was $110,930 per year and overall employment is expected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Shortage of Nurse Educators

The nursing shortage poses a significant threat to healthcare delivery. The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) recommends nursing programs increase the supply of nursing faculty to address the demands of the nursing workforce. The IOM reports insufficient numbers of educators and clinical placements for all the qualified applicants who want to enroll in nursing school. A 2005 survey of 409 nursing schools reported 817 faculty vacancies due to budget constraints, aging of the faculty and resulting retirements, and job competition from clinical sites and the private sector’s ability to pay more competitive salaries. These capacity constraints result in a smaller number of nursing graduates at a time when the U.S. nursing workforce requires additional labor.

RN-MSN Education Bridge Programs Prepare Needed Nursing Faculty

Nursing schools need faculty who have the expertise to teach the content that students will need to provide safe, effective patient care in the 21st century’s healthcare environment. The RN-MSN/Education Bridge Program will provide you the skills you’ll need to incorporate evidence-based practices when teaching the next generation of RN, BSN and MSN students. According to the BLS, the 2017 median annual salary for nurse educators fell between $71,600 and $96,170, depending on employment setting. While this may be less than other MSN salaries, the rewards you’ll reap from shaping the future of nursing can provide a greater sense of pride and accomplishment. Nurse educators are, and will continue to be, in great demand for years to come.

Focus on Leadership and Value-Based Care

The IOM asserts that nursing can contribute to healthcare reform and the demands for a safe, quality, patient-centered, accessible, and affordable healthcare system. As outlined by the American Nurses Association (ANA), all nurses should be leaders within the profession, working to influence policies and encourage innovations in processes, systems, business models or other “new” products or services. Research has found that nurses who scored higher on an innovation scale had specialty certification, graduate degrees and experience in management. Effective nurse managers and leaders direct improvement efforts and create environments where innovation can thrive.

RN-MSN/MBA Bridge Programs Increase Effectiveness of Healthcare Operation

High healthcare cost is, in part, due to waste (inefficient delivery of care, excessive administrative costs, unnecessary services, inflated prices, prevention failures, fraud). It’s estimated that 30 cents of every dollar spent on medical care in the U.S. is wasted. The ACA includes programs that strive to improve quality and control costs, otherwise known as value. With this aim, the paradigm of care is shifting from a disease model of treating episodic illness, without attention to quality outcomes, to a focus on health and systems that reward providers for quality outcomes and health promotion. Efficiency will be maximized by reducing waste, avoiding duplicative care and appropriately using specialists.

Some nursing academics have highlighted the importance of incorporating a business component in nursing curricula so that nurses can operate effectively in an evolving healthcare environment. Nurse leaders have significant budgetary responsibilities and should convey their knowledge about financial and budgetary issues to other nurses to drive change and achieve successful outcomes. The RN-MSN/MBA Bridge Program teaches you fiscal and management theories, and how to oversee clinical operations, expand services and establish policies and procedures that ensure the best patient care possible.

Nurses are poised to assume roles that advance health, improve care and increase value. RN-to-MSN programs are an ideal way for nurses to further their education and advance their careers.

Read The Nursing Shortage: The Role of NPs in the New Nursing Landscape and Nurses as Leaders: How They Inspire, Innovate and Influence




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Health Resources & Services Administration (2013, November). Projecting the supply and demand for primary care practitioners through 2020: In brief. Retrieved from

Institute of Medicine (2011). The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from

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