This Blog Was Originally Published on Calling All Nurses – Pursuing an MSN is extremely rewarding and can open many career pathways within nursing. With an MSN, you can specialize in Education, Informatics, Leadership, or become a Nurse Practitioner. Many MSN programs are flexible, offering online studies, and many allow autonomy in choosing a practicum site to complete the required clinical hours.
Earning a Master’s Degree is a very smart move for sure, but before you jump head first into an MSN program, you should consider the following 5 things:
# 1- Are you ready to consider yourself a master of nursing?
It is crucial for you to be proficient in your specific field of nursing before pursuing an MSN. Most nurse educators and nurse managers consider the five year mark of experience a minimum to be considered qualified as proficient. Although many schools will accept only 6 months of working experience prior to entering into their program, you may run into trouble landing a position with limited clinical nursing experience.
#2- An MSN is a professional degree that does not come easy or cheap!
Earning your Master’s Degree in nursing is challenging on many levels. The coursework is heavy with research, presentations, and clinical hours. This can put a strain on family dynamics, and can make obligations outside of school seem impossible at times. Additionally, the cost of an MSN program can reach $60,000 or more, and grants providing financial aid are usually not available for a Master’s Degree.
#3- Are you passionate about the specialty you want to pursue?
Finding passion within your selected specialty will offer you greater satisfaction with the inevitable hard work that lies ahead. You should ask yourself how you plan on utilizing your new knowledge to enhance your specialty area. Being able to identify how you can create positive change may suggest that you are ready to apply to an MSN program.
#4- Are you informed of the employment opportunities related to your specialty?
In some cases, your area may be saturated with Nurse Managers or Nurse Practitioners, making it difficult to land a job in a hospital setting. Getting familiar with the different job opportunities that are available in your community can better help you in selecting your program of study, and in planning your desired career pathway.
#5- Are you ready to take on the additional responsibility that comes with having an MSN?
Earning a Master’s Degree in nursing brings forth an assumed responsibility that will challenge you to perform at the highest possible standards at all times. You will be utilized as an educational resource and an expert nurse clinician in every position you hold. From bedside nursing, to working as a nurse informatics specialist, you will be sought out for professional advice, consistent validation, and proficient problem solving. Having “MSN” behind your name becomes more than an academic achievement – it becomes reassurance that you are well qualified to get the job done.