When you’re spending a lot of time in school learning about becoming a nurse it’s easy to get antsy. Most of us don’t want to become nurses to sit in a classroom and learn about the theory behind practices. We sit in the classroom because we know that’s the best way to help our patients. You need practice and hospitality skills to get a nursing degree.
The passion to be a nurse isn’t driven by a desire to stay in a hands-off environment. We want to be out on the floor helping patients. We want to be practicing what we’re learning and becoming a useful part of the care team. Because we want to be out there in the action sometimes it’s easy to think you won’t need or want an advanced nursing degree.
It’s definitely true that you can have a fulfilling nursing career without seeking an advanced degree, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider every aspect before making a decision. There are a lot of benefits to having an advanced nursing degree and many of those benefits are transferred directly to our patients.
Whether you’ve been a nurse for a long time and you’re thinking about going back to school or you’re still currently learning to be a nurse, there’s a lot to think about. If you’re still weighing things out, keep reading. These are five reasons you really should consider getting an advanced nursing degree.
1. A Wider Scope Of Practice
Depending on your level of degree there are limits to what you’re allowed to do. Every nurse is aware of their scope of practice. Knowing the limits of what you can do is part of providing the best patient care possible. Nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing have a chance to gain a wider scope of practice.
This is the path to becoming a nurse practitioner or even a nurse midwife. It’s your chance to combine a passion for medicine with the desire not to leave the nursing field. While nurses without an advanced degree can still do a lot of things, they aren’t going to be able to provide the level of care a nurse practitioner can.
Nurses without advanced degrees are also going to be more limited on chances for advancement. If you don’t have an advanced degree you may be more likely to accept supervisory or administration roles that take you away from direct patient care.
If that’s a great fit for you that’s awesome. We need supervisors and admins who are passionate about what they do. However, if remaining in a direct contact role is what you really want to do an advanced degree can help you further your career without losing patient contact.
2. You Can Become More Specialized
A lot of nurses are very passionate about specific types of medicine. This is a great asset because it means nurses gravitate towards treating the types of patients they really have the most interest in. With an advanced degree, you can continue down the path of specialization even further.
Advanced nursing degrees let you specialize in things like mental health care, family practice, or acute care. Since all of these areas (and many others) could benefit from nurses who have the drive to be in that line of practice an advanced degree is also going to benefit the patients you care about so much.
Better patient care is a huge benefit of advanced nursing degrees that will mean a lot to you and your patients. The chance to specialize and offer this increased level of care is a big point in favor of pursuing your Master’s degree.
3. You Can Become A Nurse Educator
Maybe being in a school environment really is where your heart lies when it comes to the nursing profession. If that’s the case that’s great. Nursing educators are a huge part of what builds strong care teams. If our teachers don’t care about our patients just as much as we do, our education (and thus our patient care) will suffer.
With an advanced degree, you can be a nurse educator that makes a difference in the lives of nurses just starting out in the field. If this is where you want to make a difference within the medical field, you really do need your advanced degree.
You’ll become a highly valuable part of the medical system. We always need good teachers for our student nurses. Without them, no one is going to be giving the best possible care to our patients. The average salary of a registered nurse in U.S. is $74,000.
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4. Your Opinion Will Hold More Influence
An advanced degree is going to carry some weight with it, and it should. You’re spending more time learning about being a better nurse and providing better patient care than others have. You’ll deserve the recognition that comes with the time you’ve invested.
The benefit to this is that your opinion about things like patient care policies and even overall policies of the hospital or clinic you work in are more likely to go farther. With an advanced degree your chance to make changes that you truly believe will benefit your patients or your co-workers is going to be much larger.
It’s true that employers should listen to any nurse that wants to suggest a chance that will benefit the patients they care about, but sometimes that’s just not the way things work. If your heart is telling you that you really want the chance to be heard and be the best advocate possible for real change, an advanced degree will assist you more with those efforts.
5. You Can Still Make A Difference While You’re Getting Your Degree
A lot of advanced degrees programs are built for nurses who are already working in their field. There are online degree options and bridge programs out there to get you to the next degree level without delaying starting your RN career.
When you’re choosing a Master’s program you can look at how the program is tailored and what it means for your ability to work while you’re getting your degree. If you want to remain active as both a nurse and a student this is great news. It means you can put things into practice more quickly and continue to pass the benefits of your furthered education on to your patients.
A lot of health care systems offer tuition assistance for nurses wanting to get an advanced degree as well. That means there’s a chance your advanced degree may cost you little to nothing to attain. It depends on the system you work for, and what guidelines are attached to their tuition assistance programs.
The point is you can still work and get your degree at the same time. It’s not a one or the other situation as it may have been at one point in time. With online degree options being increasingly common there’s never been a better time to be a nurse and a student at the same time.
It’s completely fine if you decide an advanced degree just isn’t part of your plan for your nursing career. Not everyone has to have an advanced degree, and not having one doesn’t mean you’re going to be a bad nurse. Still, if the passion to build your career further is really taking hold these are some serious benefits to consider.
If you take these reasons to heart and try to make an informed decision about your degree choice, you’ll feel better about whatever decision you make. Being informed and smart about decisions is already something you’re great at as a student nurse or even a nurse that’s already graduated.
Use those skills to make the best possible decision for yourself, then be confident in that decision. An advanced degree won’t be for everyone, but if it is for you, you’ll be glad you took the time to really think things through. Congratulations and good luck, you’re going to be awesome.