Thinking about furthering your nursing career? Unsure if a master’s degree is right for you? Wondering how an online nursing program can help you achieve your dreams?
Although nurses can have rewarding careers with an RN or BSN degree, those with an MSN degree have a greater abundance of opportunities available to them. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), "The demand for high-quality care will continue to grow. Medical innovations and technological advances will continue. The quality and effectiveness of health care will continue to improve, and nurses with graduate degrees will play an active role in this trend."
Your nursing career will benefit from an advanced degree. The flexibility provided by earning an online MSN makes it a great option for nurses who want to continue working while pursuing an advanced degree. Let’s examine some of the advantages of undertaking an online MSN program:Increased Specialization
Undergraduate degrees prepare you for general nursing practice, whereas online MSN programs allow you to focus on an area of interest so you can go more in-depth with your studies and training. These programs provide the specialization needed for nurses to become experts and leaders in their chosen fields. Advanced practice nurses can specialize in nursing education, healthcare administration or nursing informatics, or become a nurse practitioner focusing in areas such as acute care, gerontology, mental health or family practice. These specialties are in high demand in many locations.Greater Career Opportunities/Advancement
There is an abundance of career opportunities available to nurses who possess a master’s degree. Over the next decade, the need for advance practice nurses is expected to increase by 31%. While the job prospects are great for all nurses, those with an MSN degree will have a wider variety of choice in their employment and access to jobs not available to nurses with an RN or BSN.
Nurses with a master’s degree are afforded more opportunities for career advancement than their peers with less advanced degrees. With an online MSN, employers are more likely to award you positions in management and education. Your specialized training will have strengthened your communication skills and prepared you for leadership roles. When applying for new job opportunities, having an online MSN will give you a step up on the competition. Greater education and experience will increase the likelihood you will be hired in your area of specialty.Higher Earning Potential
Although a higher salary isn’t guaranteed, many healthcare organizations reward those holding advanced degrees with greater pay. Obtaining an online MSN establishes that you possess valuable expertise and are qualified to work in more specialized areas where you can earn greater pay. While experienced advanced practice nurses command a higher salary, new graduates can expect to receive a competitive salary. Many advanced practice nurses have an annual income between $80-90,000. So if you want greater earning potential, it’s time to head back to school. The higher pay and better job prospects will allow you to pay off the expenses you incur.Increased Autonomy
Advancing your education shows you can work with far less supervision. Completing an online MSN degree will prepare you to work autonomously and make independent health care decisions. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are qualified to complete assessments, order laboratory and diagnostic tests and diagnose and treat medical conditions. Research has shown that NPs deliver high quality, safe and effective patient care. Patient outcomes for NPs are comparable and sometimes better than those achieved by physicians.Better Work Hours
Nursing is a great profession, but the job is demanding. Shifts can be long and exhausting. Working holidays is expected. If you earn a master’s degree, you are more likely to be eligible for management and education positions that offer a more traditional 40-hour work week. Many nurse practitioners are employed in outpatient settings which keep regular business hours. Because you’ll probably be earning a higher salary with your online MSN, you may also decide to work less and devote more time to family.Flexibility of Online MSN Programs
Many reputable nursing schools now offer programs that are completely online. For example, Spring Arbor University offers a variety of online MSN options including Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education and an MBA dual degree. RN-MSN tracks are also available for those nurses who don’t already possess a BSN.
Online MSN programs are designed to fit the needs of busy nurses. You can complete classes from any location on your own schedule. Clinicals and practicums can be completed at a facility in your area. You will earn the same degree as campus-based students without the hassle of getting to campus. The U.S. Department of Education found that college students who enrolled in online courses performed better on average than those taking the same course through face-to-face instruction.
You’ve worked hard to finish your nursing degree. Is it worth the effort to further your education? If you choose to return for an advanced degree, I think you’ll be satisfied by the rewards you’ll reap. Online MSN programs allow you to balance work and family while earning a degree that will open many doors for you.