Many experts out there would argue that you can never be too educated and get too many degrees, but is that the case? Does pursuing higher education truly set you up for a more successful and happier future? For many, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no as so much of it comes down to your expectations, goals in life, and what you feel passionate and excited about. Those who choose a career in nursing are seen as some of the hardest most incredible workers out there, but your career as an RN (registered nurse) may not seem like enough for you. Maybe you want more.
If you’ve been considering pursuing an advanced nursing degree, it’s normal to have questions and some apprehensions about the move. Does it make sense for your future? Will it pay off? Here we’ll take a look at some of the top benefits in gaining an advanced nursing degree, helping you to make a more informed decision that you can feel secure in.
The Next Step on the Career Ladder
When you begin a career you typically start on the bottom of the career ladder. This is normal, natural and there is no shame in it. This is your opportunity to grow, learn, build your skills and have some wonderful experiences that will make you better at your job. After some time passes it’s normal to start feeling stagnant and no longer challenged. It’s at this point that people often look for ways to climb the career ladder.
Registered nurses who feel like they’ve done a fair amount of learning and seen quite a bit may be ready for the next challenge, and an advanced nursing degree can be the foundation you need to move up to that next job level.
There Is a Need for Nurses with Advanced Degrees
Then there is the fact that there is an actual need for nurses with advanced degrees. They are very much in demand, so it makes sense to pursue higher education at this time. In particular, there is a need for those with system leadership skills, that can embrace nursing education (teaching others), that can help with policy and public health and so much more.
A DNP or a Doctor of Nursing Practice is a great avenue to pursue if you want to advance your education. Keep in mind a DNP is very different from a PhD – although both are advanced degrees. When it comes to DNP vs PhD, the DNP career will focus on nursing practice whereas a PhD career path will have you focusing on research.
One simply has to look at the career of a nurse practitioner, which is possible with a DNP. This particular field is expected to grow 28% by the year 2028. This translates to all kinds of new jobs available, somewhere in the field of about 50,000 new positions that will be created within 10 years. If you look at how much the field of registered nurses is growing it is still a healthy amount – 12% – but that doesn’t come close to a more advanced career path.
Some Incredibly Exciting Career Options
And just what are the career options that will be available to you with an advanced nursing degree such as a DNP? Some of the more popular routes graduates can take are:
- Nursing faculty
- Health care executive
- Health care lobbyist
- Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
- Clinical researcher
- Family nurse practitioner (FNP)
- Psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP)
- Chief nursing officer
- University or college professor
- Adult nurse practitioner (ANP)
These are very exciting career paths, each with its pros and cons. This means you can choose the one that speaks to you and that you feel most passionate about.
Nursing Education Gets a Special Mention
While it was mentioned above that nursing education is a career path that can be taken, it’s important to give this one a shout out. There is a real emphasis right now on nursing education careers. What this means is that you will be teaching and training the nurses of the future. You will be playing a direct role in the quality of care people will be getting since you will be preparing a whole generation of nurses. If you want a feel-good job, this can be that job.
What’s great about this job is that you have a role in the health care industry but at the same time, you’re not working the front lines. The front lines are both mentally and physically exhausting and maybe you’re ready to hang up that hat. You’ll be able to enjoy much more regular hours, no shift work, no long hours on your feet racing from patient to patient, and there isn’t that same on-the-job stress that a hospital or clinic is notorious for. You can continue in the field you love but in a much less stressful manner.
As for this particular career path, this one is set to grow 20% by 2028, again, another exciting path that you could follow. Keep in mind you can teach at state colleges, state universities, private schools, and state community colleges.
Own Your Practice
An advanced nursing degree will allow you to work in a variety of environments, but if you had dreams and plans of one day owning a practice, this degree can make it happen. As a nurse practitioner, you can open your practice in 22 states. These states offer full practice authority, and also include Washington, DC. For those states that don’t offer full practice authority, you will work in collaboration with various physicians and/or supervisors.
Owning a practice means you call the shots. You decide how many patients you will see, your hours, what kind of issues you choose to focus on, the location – where you want to set up shop, and more. You are in complete control of your career destiny.
Nip Boredom in the Bud
Outsiders looking into a nurse’s typical day may decide it looks very exciting and fast-paced. While it’s true that nurses don’t get much in terms of downtime, it doesn’t mean they feel fulfilled, challenged, and excited by their job. They may feel quite bored with their current career. It can start to feel monotonous, going about the same things day in and day out.
Choosing to go back to school and earn your advanced nursing degree means you’ll soon be moving on to a new career and boredom will be a thing of the past.
Command a Higher Salary
There are a lot of elements that go into making a career “perfect” for you, and the reality is that your salary is one of those elements. You want to know that you’ll be paid fairly for the job you do and that you can have the kind of lifestyle you envision. Once you get an advanced nursing degree you will be able to command a much higher salary. It opens a whole new pay level since you will have moved up the career ladder.
As an example, here are some of the careers listed above and their average annual salary as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Nurse practitioners – $111,670
- Postsecondary teachers – $80,790
- Medical and health services managers – $104,280
In comparison, the salary for a registered nurse is $75,330, so it’s clear there is a step up in salary with these types of careers.
Beat Out the Competition
If you’ve ever had to go up against another applicant when applying for a job, then you know better than anyone just how competitive it can be. Whatever you can do to boost your appeal in the eyes of the employer to be, will be helpful. Being able to list your advanced nursing degree on your resume will certainly garner attention and could help move you to the top of the pile. At the very least it shows potential employers that you are serious about your career, you have the skills and knowledge necessary, and that you will be prepared to handle the job.
There Is a Sense of Accomplishment
Anytime you can advance your career there is bound to feel a sense of accomplishment. Just the fact you are going back to school and working on your degree is enough to feel proud about. It is all about investing in yourself and your future and recognizing that you are worth the effort. Nothing beats the feeling of graduating from an advanced nursing degree program, getting to say you did it all yourself and put in all the hard work necessary.
A Long List of Pros and Benefits to Earning that Advanced Nursing Degree
So, if you’re on the fence about whether to pursue an advanced nursing degree, then let these many benefits sink in. It’s important to do as much research as possible, be realistic about your goals and expectations, and ask yourself what this type of degree could mean for your career and life in general. Is it worth it? The answer could be a resounding “yes”.
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