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The Value of Earning Your Master’s Degree in Nursing

Higher Education Articles July 20, 2014

For individuals planning a career in the nursing field, the thought of pursuing an advanced degree may seem unnecessary. After all, those with a bachelor’s degree in nursing can still find a great position — with a strong salary — at a hospital or medical clinic. But, for those weighing the pros and cons of pursuing an advanced degree, here you will learn more about the value of earning your master’s degree in nursing.

Increasing Demand For Nurses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for nurses will increase by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. This rate is higher than the average growth rate for other occupations and is thought to be driven by three key factors. Those factors are:

•Increasing need for medical attention due to increasing life spans for Americans
•Increasing numbers of individuals with access to health care due to the Affordable Care Act
•Increase in the number of home health centers, outpatient centers and rehabilitation centers, driven by the financial pressures placed upon traditional hospitals to release patients from their care as soon as possible

Increasing Demand, Increasing Need for Education

Along with the aforementioned key factors driving occupational growth in the nursing field, there will also be greater opportunities to educate others. According to a report entitled Charting Nursing’s Future: Reports on Policies That Can Transform Patient Care, the Affordable Care Act increased access to health care insurance for an additional 32 million Americans. The staggering number of new patients who may need medical attention (and who can now afford to get the medical attention they need) created a further shortage of primary care providers. The report clearly states that nurses who have obtained either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) are helping to close the gap. These individuals with advanced training have become the fastest-growing segment among primary care providers, with their numbers expected to double by 2025.

Those with an interest in the field of education will see increasing opportunities to educate future nurses and to provide continuing education to those already working within the field. According to the Charting Nursing’s Future report, estimates suggest that tens of thousands of nursing school applicants were turned away in 2011 largely because of staffing shortages. Nurses with graduate degrees can certainly pursue opportunities in the academic world — either on a part-time or full-time basis.

Those with advanced nursing degrees will also be called upon to train their peers in continuing education programs, as nurses must stay abreast of changing procedures and keep up with the increasing need to perform more sophisticated procedures traditionally done by physicians or other medical staff.

Career Advancement

Those planning a career in nursing may, at some point, want to pursue other opportunities within the field of nursing. Registered nurses who have obtained a master’s degree are often referred to as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). APRNs operate under a variety of job titles, including clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists. APRNs are often considered primary care professionals. In fact, in many states, these individuals essentially perform the same functions as a physician.

Salary Boost

In addition to the career advancement potential, those with advanced nursing degrees can experience a huge boost in salary. In fact, the American Association of Colleges in Nursing (AACN) says that those with advanced nursing degrees can earn up to 50 percent more than registered nurses without such degrees.

In conclusion, the need for medical professionals is at an all-time high in the United States. The increasing demand, increasing number of facilities, and increased need for preparatory training opens many doors for those with advanced nursing degrees.

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