How a master’s degree can help develop leadership in nursing

July 12, 2016

nurse talking with a doctor at a desk

If you've been a nurse for a while, it's likely you've thought about advancing your degree and asked yourself: What's the value of a masters in nursing? What can a masters do for me? What are the advantages?

And of course, the answer largely depends on what you want to get out of your nursing career. It also depends on what you'd like to be able to give back to the community. But let's start with how a master of science in nursing (MSN) can help you develop nursing leadership skills and grow in your nursing career.

How to Develop Into a Nurse Manager and Take Your Career Further

As a result of the rapid and ongoing evolution of health care and an aging baby boomer population, there are many opportunities to advance within the field of nursing; you just need to be ready to take advantage of them. An MS in nursing can help you meet the demand for nursing leadership skills.

What's great about being a nurse today is that you can complete advancement programs entirely online, without taking a break from your current workload.

Here's how to you grow into a nurse manager role and begin the road to advancement:

  1. Understand the Big Picture.
    Familiarize yourself with the changes going on in the health care system. You probably already know a lot of it, but it's always good to dive deeper into what's happening in your field. The latest assessment on the future of nursing from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a good place to start.
  2. Start Looking at Masters Programs.
    Not all of them are created equal. Some MS in nursing programs offer a richer curriculum than others. So make sure you choose one that will really prepare you to lead and become an efficient decision-maker.
  3. Take a Look at Your Schedule.
    As you choose a master's program, make sure you take into account your schedule. An online program might be all that you can fit into your life right now without putting your career on hold. Luckily, there are online programs that offer the same education and degree as on-campus programs. Some schools even have the same professors teaching online that they do on-campus.
  4. Think Ahead to Your Certification.
    While you're taking courses toward your MS in Nursing, don't lose sight of what comes afterward – your CNML (Certified Nurse Manager and Leader) Exam – one last step towards establishing yourself as a top nurse leader. Make sure you're prepared, so you can easily transition into the nurse manager position you want.

The Advantages of Earning a Master's in Nursing

Okay, now you know how to develop into a nurse manager. So what does that mean once you're there? What is the advantage of all of these nursing leadership skills you've acquired? And what can you gain from having a leadership position? A lot. Here are the main benefits to earning your MS in nursing and becoming a nurse manager:

  1. You Can Increase Your Salary.
    Of course, you didn't get into nursing for the money, but building your earning potential is important as you grow – both personally and professionally.
  2. You Can Teach.
    Nursing is a highly rewarding (albeit tough) job. It is even more rewarding when you can take entry level nurses under your wing and mentor them as a nurse educator. An MS in nursing allows you to do exactly that.
  3. You Can Learn the Business Side of Health Care.
    In order to make good decisions for your team, it's important to be well-versed in the most recent developments in policy, management and finance. A master's degree will prepare you to deal with both the business challenges and opportunities that arise for your team.
  4. You Can Truly Make a Difference.
    As a nurse you participate in the evolution of health care. When you hold a nurse management or leadership position, you are able to shape the future of the field, helping to redefine policies to best suit the communities you serve and have an even more satisfying career than you ever imagined.
Earning your masters in nursing can open up so many doors as you continue your career.

Learn more about the online MS in nursing (MSN) program.

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