Is a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) worth it?

BY Sam Becker04 August 2022, 12:56

Travel nurse Tiquella Russell from Texas displays her scrub cap shortly after administering a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles, as reported saw in February 2021 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

For generations, a career in nursing has offered many people a path to the middle class, and potentially even higher. Nurses have traditionally been well paid and their jobs have remained more or less secure as there is always a demand for healthcare workers. Advances in medical science have opened up a myriad of potential specialties and advanced practice opportunities for nurses.

In turn, these dynamics have created the potential for nurses to seek even higher earnings, promotions, and professional accolades. But for nurses with higher goals — whether working in administrative roles or even running their own practice — earning an advanced degree was practically a requirement. While there are several advanced, higher-level degrees that nurses can pursue, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can be the most versatile – and students can pursue this degree while studying remotely or even working full-time. .

Is earning an MSN degree worth the investment of time and money? While there is no simple answer to this question, nurses with an MSN degree often gain higher incomes, the potential for additional career paths and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to their communities.

An MSN can significantly increase your income

Prospective MSN students are probably the most curious about their earning potential after graduation – and an advanced degree in nursing can significantly increase a nurse’s salary. In fact, nurses in various advanced practices earn median salaries of nearly $124,000 per year in 2021, almost 60% more than the median salary of $77,600 for registered nurses who generally do not have degrees. of higher education.

And nurses could see the potential for even higher earnings in years to come as the US health care system grapples with a shortage of skilled workers. This has led to a chaotic scene at many hospitals and clinics across the country that “has not calmed down”, even as the flow of patients at the height of the pandemic has eased, says Tiffany McDowell, director of people consulting services at Ernst & Young, which works with healthcare providers to improve hospital efficiency.

“Nor do we expect it to calm down in the near future,” she says, adding, “Over the next decade, we see a continued gap between supply and demand.”

Other experts agree, saying nurses are likely to enjoy higher salaries due to the lack of balance in the labor market, which creates long-term career opportunities in this field.

“Regulatory and physician mandates require hospitals to hire nurses to care for patients; thus, demand is relatively fixed or may increase,” says Jason Shafrin, senior managing director at FTI Consulting at the Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, and founder and editor of Healthcare Economist. “Many nurses are leaving the workforce due to the risks associated with COVID-19 and increased burnout due to additional work demands and stress. Basic economics teaches us that if demand rises and supply falls, prices [wages] increase.

“Never get bored”: an MSN opens up career opportunities

Like any advanced or higher level degree, an MSN can open more doors in the broad career path of nursing, allowing students to specialize in a number of areas. Some of the most common MSN degree specializations include nurse researcher, nurse administrator, computer science, and public health.

And in a rapidly changing field like nursing, a graduate degree can be a relatively quick and easy way to give a nurse a leg up on her peers. “Nursing has really changed in terms of technology and the way patient care looks; it changed what you need to know about drugs and treatments; and it takes someone smart enough to do the job,” says Mary Ellen Glasgow, dean and professor at Duquesne University School of Nursing. The school ranked #5 on The wealth ranking of the best online MSN programs.

Earning an advanced nursing degree can give nurses far more choice in what they want to do in a clinical setting. “There are so many choices—it’s a career within a career—there are so many specialties,” Glasgow says. “You can do so much in your career without ever getting bored, and you’re still doing something meaningful.”

Doing something meaningful, as Glasgow mentions, is an aspect of career that is particularly important for many nurses. For some people, this is their primary motivation for entering the field. And experts advise determining if you’re motivated by some of the altruistic aspects of nursing before you go to school.

“Are you passionate about change? Look at the challenges we face in health care,” says Susan Stone, president of Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky, a digital nursing school offering programs for students of all “We are here to provide health care to the nation,” she says, adding that many Frontier students study in their own communities with the intention of staying there to help improve health outcomes. “We recruit them from and keep them in their community, and use their community as a classroom. Our goal is to improve care in rural and underserved populations in the United States”

While rural areas need nurses, so do big cities like Pittsburgh (where Duquesne is located), Glasgow adds. The shortage of nurses is a national problem and therefore even one person entering the field can make a huge difference no matter where they are.

Frontier’s program focuses on preparing nurses to start their own practice, which not only gives them leeway to begin treating patients in areas where there may not be access to the hospital, but effectively turns them into entrepreneurs, Stone says. Preparing students to potentially “run their own clinics and make their own decisions” about what needs to be done in their communities can also attract more people to graduate programs, she adds.

Combined, the ability to potentially have an outsized positive effect on their community, along with the potential to earn higher salaries and open up more career options, make pursuing an MSN attractive for many students.

But Glasgow warns the potential rewards are hard-earned, as pursuing a master’s degree in nursing is no small feat. “COVID has made nurses seen as heroes,” she says. “But I don’t think people understand how rigorous academic preparation is.”

See how the schools you are considering fared Fortune’s rankings of the best master’s programs in nursing sciences, computingcyber security, psychology, public health, business analysis, data sciencedoctorate in education and part time, executive, full timeand on line MBA programs.

Is a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) worth it?

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