How many times have you applied for jobs that stated “Bachelors Degree preferred” in the position qualifications section? How about “DNP or PhD required“? Although advanced degrees for nursing positions seems to be the new expectation, the incentive for clinical nurses to obtain these advanced degrees has yet to be clearly identified.
As a new grad in 2010, I remember thinking I would never find a job since I just graduated from an Associates Degree nursing program. This was primarily due to the fact that majority of the hospitals in my area were giving positions to Bachelors Degree prepared nurses first.
Fortunately for me, I was able to land a position right away after passing the NCLEX RN licensure exam at a sub-acute rehab facility. For my peers who were determined to wait it out until they got the position that they desired, well lets just say that they had an extended summer break – up to six months of no work! Once they did find employment, they were strongly encouraged to enter into a BSN program in order to keep their positions. Many of them did as they were encouraged and since then have completed their programs, earning their Bachelors of Science in Nursing. The unfortunate thing is that their Bachelors Degree did not earn them any additional benefit from that of an Associates Degreed nurse. Some of my colleagues reported a novel pay increase (literally cents on the dollar), while others were expected to take on more work responsibilities such as charge nurse duties, or unit preceptor duties for new hires without a pay increase.
To further elaborate on this inadequacy, earning my Masters Degree in Nursing Education has not provided me with a pay increase as a clinical nurse. In fact, over the past year of having my MSN, I have made a salary comparable to that of an Associates Degreed RN with the same amount of clinical experience. Enduring a three year RN to MSN program and racking up a student loan debt of over $80,000 has not improved my financial gain at all. If anything it has made me over qualified and extremely underpaid! NOW please understand that I do not regret earning my Masters Degree in Nursing Education, especially because this is the path I want to follow throughout my nursing career. It is my goal to become full time faculty for a college nursing program. However, I would like to earn just a little more money for my hard work, assumed responsibilities as Nurse Educator, and for my dedication of enhancing the nursing profession through continued education. Guess that’s too much to ask…
Regardless of my own grievances, this push for advanced degrees among clinical nurses is not being met with appropriate incentive by the organizations whom are responsible for demanding that their clinical nurses have a minimum of a Bachelors Degree – Doctorate Degree preferred.