What You Can Do With an Online Master’s Degree in Nursing

Like many professional career options, education and experience are absolutely essential for achieving success as a nurse. If you are currently working as a nurse or plan to pursue a career in nursing in your future, you will probably know that this career path is one of the best when it comes to the career advancement and progression options that are available. When it comes to opportunities, nurses have absolutely tons of options for moving into different specialty areas in the industry or moving up the career ladder. However, getting an advanced degree is usually a necessary first step towards an advanced nursing career. For most nurses, this will mean achieving a master’s degree in nursing. 

Today, master’s degrees in nursing are available from a wide range of online colleges and nursing schools, which has made it possible for even more nurses to advance their careers while continuing to work and fitting their studies around their current commitments. Here are some of the main things that you could do with your nursing career after getting an MSN, and why getting an online MSN is definitely worth the investment. 

Work as a Nurse Practitioner:

Nurse practitioners are in very high demand in the healthcare industry right now, so it’s no surprise that many nurses who decide to get an MSN do so with this career path in mind. In many US states, nurse practitioners are permitted to work without the supervision of a primary care physician, giving them the freedom and autonomy to run their own clinics and diagnose, treat and prescribe medication to patients. Nurse practitioners enjoy a high salary and a lot of respect in the world of medicine since they have become key to closing the gap that has been caused by the current shortage of medical doctors in healthcare to ensure that the aging population is getting the level of patient care that they need. 

A master’s in nursing is often the minimum requirement to work as a nurse practitioner. Texas Womans University’s comprehensive online nursing program is designed to help future nurse practitioners get the qualifications that they need. See the Texas Womans University website to learn more.  

Pursue a Management or Leadership Career:

Like many professional careers, nurses need somebody who is experienced and dedicated to manage teams and oversee patient care. If you are the type of person who enjoys leading a team and is always striving to help your team achieve the best results, a career in nurse management could be ideal for you. In this position, you will be tasked with making the best decisions for the team with patient care at the forefront of your mind. Nurse managers will often be in charge of managing hospital departments, clinics, and other healthcare settings and are hugely instrumental in ensuring that the best standards of patient care are provided. 

Further Career Opportunities:

Whether you want to continue working on the front line of healthcare and be there to offer care to patients or want to take on a more administrative or management role in nursing where you can oversee other professionals and improve patient care from the office, a master’s degree in nursing can help you achieve your overall career goals. 

There are several further career opportunities that you might want to consider once you have earned an MSN degree. For example, you might be interested in starting or managing your own clinic, starting a healthcare business as an advanced nurse, overseeing medical research facilities, or working with a certain patient demographic – all of which will become more possible and accessible to nurses who have achieved a master’s qualification. In addition, the demand for nurses with advanced qualifications is set to grow even further in the future since advanced nurses are becoming increasingly more necessary to the running and improvement of the healthcare system. 

Choose a Specialty Area:

You can often choose an area of nursing to specialize in at any point during your career, but gaining a master’s degree in nursing allows you to focus even further on your chosen specialty area and learn even more about the patients or conditions that you are the most interested in. Along with general master’s degree programs in nursing, you can also often find a range of specialty nursing master’s degree programs that are designed for nurses who are interested in learning more about a specific area of the profession such as oncology, neonatal nursing, women’s health, nurse-midwifery and more. 

If there is a certain aspect of nursing that you are more interested in than the others and want to take your career down that pathway in the future, a specialized master’s degree in that area of nursing can help. 

Nurse Education:

If you want to use your career to teach the next generation of nurses and educate future nurses to provide the best standards of patient care, you can do this with an advanced nursing degree. In order to teach nursing at colleges and nursing schools around the country, you will usually be required to have a doctorate degree in nursing such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. This is one of the highest qualification options that a nurse can achieve. 

To qualify for enrolment on this highly advanced degree option, it is usually required that nurses have a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing beforehand. However, some nurse educators are only required to hold a master’s degree in nursing. It will vary depending on where you would like to teach and the level of nursing that you’re planning to teach. 

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Nursing Master’s Program:

Today, online master’s degree programs in nursing are the best option for busy nurses who are looking to further their career options without disrupting their current life. Unlike traditional, campus-based master’s degree programs, an online program gives nurses the flexibility to study at times that are suitable for them and makes studying from home possible, which is usually much easier to do when you are busy working full-time as a registered nurse. However, if you have decided that an online master’s degree in nursing is the right choice for you, there are several factors that are worth considering before you apply and enroll to make sure that you’re on the right pathway for your future career. 

Type of Degree:

Not all online degrees are the same, so it’s important to look into the finer details before you enroll to ensure that this degree is going to be suitable for your needs and preferences. For example, some online degree programs will require you to be online at certain times for classes and lectures while others will give you complete freedom to decide when you would like to be online to listen to pre-recorded classes and read the learning materials. Consider your current career, other commitments, and your preferences to determine which type of degree would be ideal for you. If you’re thinking of enrolling in a degree program that will require you to stick to a schedule, make sure that you find out class times and other key times that you will need to be available to ensure that you’re not going to have to deal with them clashing with work and other commitments. 

Employer Support:

Many employers are happy to support nurses who are looking to get an advanced degree since it’s a win-win situation for both parties. More well-educated nurses with master’s degrees are an asset to employers who will then have more opportunities for hiring from within when it comes to filling advanced nursing position vacancies and earning Magnet status as a healthcare institution. If you are currently working as a nurse, it’s definitely worth taking the time to speak to your employer about your plans to get a master’s degree in nursing since there may be support in place that you can take advantage of. For example, many employers might be willing to help you with covering some or all of the cost of getting your master’s degree, and they may be able to adjust your working hours to make studying and working easier for you to handle. 

Cost:

It’s important to weigh up the cost of getting your advanced degree in nursing and figure out how you are going to handle the financial side of things, especially if you are still repaying student loans from getting your BSN. The good news about studying for an advanced nursing degree online is that it often works out much cheaper compared to getting a traditional campus-based master’s degree. This is because studying from home means that there’s no need to worry about the cost of commuting to classes and the flexibility of online study means a lower opportunity cost since you won’t need to make huge changes to your working hours or take time from work in order to make the time that you need to dedicate to studying. 

However, getting your master’s degree in nursing is rarely ever cheap whichever route you take, so it is always worth taking the time to look into any financial aid options that you might be eligible for including employer support, grants and scholarships that can drive the overall cost of getting your advanced degree down. 

Time:

Another key factor to keep in mind when preparing to get your master’s degree in nursing is how much time you have. While getting an online master’s degree in nursing is certainly more flexible and often more self-led compared to other options, this isn’t to say that it’s going to be easy. Getting your master’s degree will require a lot of dedication to your subject, so it’s important to consider just how much time you have and whether studying and working at the same time is going to be feasible for you. 

Rather than being pushed for time and risking becoming overwhelmed and burned out with your situation, you may want to consider alternative options such as studying for your nursing master’s degree part-time, which may take longer for you to complete overall but will require a lower investment of your time and effort on a day-to-day basis. 

Career Goals:

It’s also crucial that you think about your future overall career goals before you decide which advanced nursing degree is going to be the best option for you. A general master’s degree in nursing is usually the best choice for any advanced nursing career that you want to get into, however, there are several specialist options to choose from that are designed to prepare you for a specific advanced nursing career that you might be aiming towards, such as working as a family nurse practitioner. If you are sure of what you want to do in the future, getting a master’s degree that is designed to help you get into that specific career path could make it easier for you to find work in the future by standing out from the crowd and demonstrating your dedication to your chosen career. 

Nursing School:

Finally, consider the nursing school that you want to apply to when getting your online master’s degree in nursing. Today, there are various nursing school and college options that offer a range of online degree programs to choose from, with both traditional and online-only colleges to explore. One of the main things to consider before choosing the nursing school that you want to attend is its reputation, and specifically its reputation for delivering online degree programs. Bear in mind that even a very reputable traditional nursing school might not always be the best choice for an online degree since the school may not have a lot of experience with online teaching and learning. It’s a good idea to speak to past and present students from the school to find out more about what to expect from the degree program. 

As a nurse, a master’s degree in nursing can be one of the best ways to advance your career, and there are many online nursing master’s programs to choose from. Keep these factors in mind before choosing the right online nursing master’s degree for you. 

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