Have you been considering an advanced degree in nursing, but have not quite made up your mind? If so, here are some of the advantages that come along with a Masters degree in Nursing.
As in any other field, the more advanced your degree, the higher the salary you can command. A nurse practitioner with a Masters degree will earn an average salary of $73,000 in comparison to an RN without an advanced degree who will earn an average $52,300. In addition, nurses with a Masters Degree are qualified to work as nurse specialists, teach in the field of nursing, and take administrative and leadership positions in nursing homes, hospitals and other settings. Nurses with advanced graduate degrees are in demand in all areas of nursing, and can command high salaries in a number of specialties.
Specialize in a Chosen Field
All four of the advanced nursing specialties require a Masters degree. If you want to become a nurse practitioner, a nurse anesthetist, a nurse midwife or a clinical nurse specialist, a Masters Degree is required. Once you complete the Masters coursework for any of the four specialties, you will be nationally certified to practice your specialty and can take a position anywhere in the country. Nurses with these advanced degrees are in high demand in hospitals all over the U.S., and the salaries reflect the high demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook states that the demand for clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists will continue to rise steadily over the next ten to twenty years, particularly in rural and inner city areas where they will often serve as primary health care providers.
Another nursing occupation that requires a Masters degree in Nursing is Nurse Educator. The demand for nursing educators is rising dramatically as new people are drawn to the nursing profession. Consequently, the opportunities to earn basic nursing certification are dropping because of the lack of qualified nursing teachers. Traditionally, nursing educators earn less than their counterparts working in hospitals and clinical settings, but that is likely to change as nursing schools work to attract good teachers in order to serve the increasing number of student nurses. The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that nursing teachers will be in increasing demand through the next twenty years, and salaries can expect to rise as the demand increases and schools compete to attract the best instructors.
Work Fewer (and better) Hours
Nurses with advanced degrees often hold positions with regular schedules, often Monday to Friday 9-5 schedules, but those aren't set in stone. As a nursing educator, supervisor, nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist, you will find that your schedules are easier to manage, and shift work is a choice rather than a demand of the job. With a Masters degree in nursing, you can choose to work in a clinic or hospital setting, go into private practice in one of the specialties, or teach in a nursing school. In any of those settings, you will be able to choose schedules that are far more family-friendly than traditional nurses' shift schedules.
In general, nursing offers a high degree of job stability, but with a Masters' degree that stability is assured. The percentage of nurses who go on to acquire advanced graduate degrees in Nursing is small, which means that those who do are in the enviable position of specifying which positions they prefer.
Challenging and Diverse Assignments
Nursing is a growing profession. Where most nurses in the past have worked in hospitals and doctors' offices, the future offers far more for experienced and educated nurses. The four practicing specialties are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. As nursing moves into the community with the growing number of home health care and community based services, there is and will continue to be a growing demand for nurses who can perform complex medical tasks and procedures. There will also be a continuing and growing demand for nurses who can take on management and teaching roles and advance in their careers.
The Chance to Make a Greater Difference
With a Masters degree, a Registered Nurse has the chance to move into positions that affect more people. Many nurses with Masters Degrees work in consultant positions, where they see patients much the same way that a doctor does. They may work with insurance companies to help make policies that will affect the delivery of health care and make it more accessible to all. In many ways, a Masters degree in Nursing opens new doors and new opportunities and allows individuals to make a difference in the lives of the people that they serve.
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Craig Elliott is a writer for Tafford Uniforms. Tafford Uniforms is a leading provider of Nursing Uniforms
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