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Why registered nurses should consider doing higher education programs to boost their careers

It is possible to become a registered nurse and work as a nurse with an associate’s degree, and for many people, getting their first position and racking up some real life experience in their chosen profession is the priority. However, once you’ve spent some time working as a nurse, you may well become interested in moving up the career ladder, specializing, or taking on a managerial role.

Photo Credit: Peshkova

There are all kinds of more senior roles for nurses, and each of them provide different working environments, challenges, and rewards, from working in a specialist capacity, such as a nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist, to working as a supervisor or educator for other nurses. There are roles that require working in hospitals and clinics and those that take you out of the normal places you expect to find nurses and into the community, for example nurses who work in schools. Some of the most sought after nursing specialisms pay extremely well, and with nurses always in demand everywhere, the employment prospects are very good for those who want to go further in nursing. The one thing that most senior or specialist positions have in common, though, is that they require a higher level formal degree qualification.

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider doing a higher degree, such as an MSN or FNP program, as a nurse:

Very Well Paid Jobs

Nursing in its most general form isn’t something most people think of as a highly paid job and is more something most people assume people get into because they like caring for people and find the medical environment to be an interesting one to work in. However, some specialist nurses make high salaries well in excess of $100k per year. In general, the ceiling on what a nurse can expect to be paid goes up depending on how qualified they are and how much demand there is for their skills. As an example, nurse anesthetists are among the highest paid nursing specialists, and you can see that they are both highly in demand (because they are needed everywhere that surgery takes place) and highly skilled and qualified (because they are dealing with anesthetics). Another well paid type of nursing is being a nurse midwife, again because they are needed whenever someone is having a baby and because they need the skills and knowledge to take care of both expectant mothers and newborns, as well as deal with lots of complications.

If working towards a highly-paid specialist job is your goal in medicine, it is well worth starting your higher degree program as early in your career as you can!

Unlock More Vacancies

Another reason that getting an MSN or other more advanced nursing degree is of huge value to a nursing professional is that it unlocks far more jobs that you can apply for even at the entry level. While there are some specialist nursing roles that you can enter by being an RN with an associate’s degree, such as trauma and neonatal specialisms, the entry level jobs in these areas too will require an MSN in some places. In general, if the talent pool is large enough in the surrounding area, an employer will ask for the highest level of qualification that they can, as this will theoretically lead to more skilled candidates for their roles. So, you will find that there are many, many more jobs you can apply for even without specializing in some places if you are qualified at a higher level. This can also be the case if you like the idea of working somewhere prestigious or which has a particularly nice working environment (like being a nurse on a cruise ship), because these employers can attract candidates very easily and can afford to be more selective about their shortlist.

Whether you want to specialize or just would like to work in a general nursing capacity, you’ll find plenty more opportunities that are open to you if you have continued your education beyond the associate’s degree level.

Study What Interests You Most

Another reason you may want to look into the different advanced nursing degrees that are available is because it can allow you to focus your attention and expertise on the areas of nursing you are most passionate about. There are all kinds of different aspects to being a nurse, and different things appeal to different people. Some people enjoy working with the community, others find caring for people in critical conditions or with terminal illnesses the most rewarding, and some enjoy other aspects like working as an informatics nursing consultant and looking at ways to innovate how healthcare is delivered. You may have found while working as a nurse that there are things you find really interesting that you didn’t expect and which you’d now like to focus on. By taking a degree program that really focuses on the things you want to go deep into, you can have an interesting and satisfying time studying and be able to drive your career in a direction you choose.

You Can Study Online

Even if some of these points have convinced you that you are at the right stage in your career to begin doing an advanced degree, you may still feel like there are practical obstacles preventing you from going away to college, such as cost or your current personal commitments. Luckily, you can now do things like an MSN or FNP program online so that you can study from home and spend a lot less money than if you went to a traditional college.

If you are thinking about your future in nursing and are able to take the leap, it is a really good idea to start planning what sort of advanced qualifications you want to achieve as well as when and how you’ll go about gaining them. It can lead to a career that is both lucrative and satisfying.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press