Monday, June 11, 2012

A coworker is pursuing her MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree, concentration in Nursing Education, online through Phoenix.  She said that is costs $13,000 and takes 18 months.  She is one month into the program.  She said that it is very challenging and requires daily reading, writing, posting, and exchange of ideas.  The program sets her back financially, limits her time with her family, and increases her overall stress and anxiety.  Her days off are scheduled around tests.  On a different note, she is a nice person and a caring nurse, and I would like to see her in a teaching position because she will convey these qualities to Student Nurses.

I'm not advocating any particular program or school, I'm just putting this information out there for you.  I myself have been wondering how much the MSN costs.  I am great at writing a lot (see this blog?), so I don't think the daily writing and posting would be as problematic for me.  In my state, you need at least an MSN degree to teach any level Registered Nurse course or clinical.

Now here's my personal opinion:  where I work- the facility as well as the geographical area- there is no difference in pay or duties among Registered Nurses with a diploma, Associate's Degree, or Bachelor's of Science in Nursing.  Whether or not you are hired for a job is dependent upon one main, heavy consideration:  WHO YOU KNOW.  The nurse in the Phoenix program:  she will not get a teaching job around here unless she meets and maintains contact with the people who hire in the local universities.  Good luck with that.  In universities around here, only published PhDs and spouses of local politicians hold teaching positions.  This is not my coworker's lot in life.

If you wish to go into research, teaching, and/or advanced practice, then you need to pursue a doctorate level degree in nursing, such as the PhD or DNP.  Yes, there are Masters courses in various nursing disciplines, and if your state allows you to practice with just a Masters, then go for it.  Earning an advanced degree costs you time and money.  This is an individual decision, as some of us have more available time and money than others.  An advanced degree will not just set you back financially for the tuition and fees, but the time commitment will prevent you from working overtime and earning what may be a very nice salary as a Registered Nurse.  An advanced degree is not a guarantee to a prestigious, high-paying position.  There are lots of jobs for Registered Nurses, but very few for Advanced Practice Nurses.  Once you have an advanced degree, you may not find a job that requires the degree and you may shut yourself out of positions for Registered Nurses.

So if you do return to school, don't just learn the book stuff and practice new skills in the clinicals.  NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.  Your peers, teachers, and proctors at the clinical sites hold the keys to your next position.  You can be very smart and able to insert and IV line into the most dehydrated 90 year old out there, but these are not the qualities that will land you a job, unfortunately.  You need to connect to people who hire.

Good luck to you and thank you for reading my opinion on higher education and jobs.

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