How a master’s degree can boost a nursing career

masters degree can boost a nursing career

The rewards of a career in nursing are many and varied. However, many nurses naturally want to enjoy significant career progression, more responsibility, and the improved salary package that comes with that.

In fact, working their way through the ranks to a more clinically advanced role – or a leadership position – in nursing will be seen by many as the ultimate career goal. This is often the case regardless of how much a nurse enjoys the role at the start of their career.

The key to success in meeting professional aims and preferences as a nurse is a vital combination of healthcare work experience and necessary qualifications. Nurses are far more likely to move onwards and upwards in their career if they secure a master’s qualification in nursing.

What is this qualification exactly, and why is it viewed as an essential prerequisite for the top nursing posts throughout healthcare provision?

What is meant by a master’s degree?

A master’s degree in any field of study is an opportunity to specialize more in a chosen career. Students will have two years to gain advanced skills and knowledge, under the guidance of tutors of the highest caliber. Deciding to take this route requires a strong commitment to the learning process and a willingness complete a period of intense study with strategic practical tasks.

By pursuing BSN to MSN programs, nurses not only solidify their foundation but also open the door to a world of boundless opportunities. For example, the Wilkes University Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program enables nurses to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP). These students gain advanced clinical skills and evidence-based practice that will open a myriad of doors for them in whatever healthcare specialty they choose to pursue.

The impact an individual can make as a master’s-prepared nurse, equipped with advanced skills, knowledge, and leadership capabilities, is vast. Achieving a master’s qualification online enables nurses to take this important career step while still juggling their existing job role and family commitments, for example. They can keep on track with their current career path while working towards this highly valued and respected qualification.

Online study programs are also often a more streamlined and efficient way to gain a vital professional qualification over a set period. Students receive a lot of help from tutors and peers to enable them to reach learning milestones in the program, but it always helps to pick up other tips on how to prepare for exams though!

 Qualifications are vital in many roles

In any career, professionals will need to undergo assessments and examinations to prove they have the abilities and knowledge required for roles that carry greater responsibility.

The most fundamental reason to consider taking a master’s qualification in nursing is an ambition to progress to more challenging job roles. This naturally offers nurses more attractive salaries and other benefits. However, it also increases their ability to impact patient care and enhances their team role when working with colleagues. Nurses with a master’s qualification may find that more people depend on them for even more decisions and robust, insightful tasks.

Senior decision makers and recruiters often screen applications for job positions by first assessing the person’s qualifications regardless of an impressive job history or a substantial amount of on-the-job experience.

However, having the correct qualifications demonstrates that a nurse has gained a clearly defined and important set of personal and professional skills, and information that is considered vital to modern healthcare. This gives the employer confidence that this individual has proven abilities and understanding that they can bring to the job role from day one.

As nursing can involve life and death situations, it would be legally and ethically wrong for any organization to put an unproven or under-qualified person into a vital clinical job role. According to one study, adequate background knowledge is a fundamental requirement for delivering high-quality patient care. Nursing organizations and regulatory bodies establish standards of practice that include educational requirements and competence benchmarks.

Elevating Nursing Careers

Professional qualifications in nursing show that an individual has engaged in a study program and successfully completed it, gaining the correct level of background knowledge, skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. A master’s degree in nursing also evidences a strong desire for professional development, plus willingness and ability to engage in continuous learning and development. This makes employers confident to matching individuals to job roles that carry specific and essential responsibilities for the patients in their healthcare organization.

The nursing job roles a master’s degree would be a pre-requisite for include various categories of NP. These are nursing professionals who carry significant clinical responsibilities, including healthcare duties that at one time would have been the remit of physicians. For example, NPs use their advanced skills to do many independent tasks related to patient diagnoses, treatment, monitoring, and support.

One of the fastest-growing careers in the US is NP. The demand for NPs has been steadily increasing in recent years, and this trend is projected to continue well into the future. This surge in demand can also be attributed to an emphasis on cost-effective healthcare delivery. Therefore, pursuing a master’s degree in nursing can be seen as a ‘passport’ to securing a highly valued job role as an NP.

Fluid career potential

NPs cover a wide range of specialisms and healthcare settings. So, a master’s degree provides opportunities to choose a niche of interest and pursue that to a high level, or to move around more within a career. This includes moving across employers, but also going from state to state or even taking up nursing positions abroad.

Healthcare areas constantly in need of NPs include critical care, emergency medicine, pediatrics, neonatal care, oncology, women’s health, pain management and rehabilitation. NPs could also specialize in elderly care or mental health support.

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are another possibility for anyone with a master’s degree in nursing, as this job role is available nationwide, from major cities to small rural communities. FNPs support community clinics and practices, working with adults and children over their lifetimes. They help local doctors immensely with tasks related to diagnosis, treatment, and care, and are often responsible for preventative and educational healthcare tasks too.

Personal satisfaction from advanced study

There are other advantages to taking a master’s in nursing, beyond the option to apply for more senior and advanced roles. This includes the opportunity to grow a sense of pride and the personal fulfilment nurses get from their chosen career. For example, people often enter this profession out of a deep and abiding yearning to help people, an interest in the field of medicine, and a desire to spend their working days in a caring and nurturing environment.

Someone with the strong vocation for nursing may get a lot of satisfaction out of further study and a higher level of practical experience. They will learn about the latest healthcare developments, trends, and techniques, for example. Embarking on a master’s degree in nursing will also enable them to get the latest insights on the medical technology that is transforming healthcare worldwide.

Greater understanding and awareness of a chosen field can yield more job satisfaction. Qualified nurses will also be more confident nursing professionals with the latest skills and knowledge to base their decisions and actions on.

This all leads to better patient care and also makes nurses even more valued colleagues and employees.

More control over a career

Naturally, employers and potentially colleagues will respect and value a nurse more highly as a result of their advanced skills and knowledge. They may support these nurses in taking professional and personal development further too. For example, employers could authorize attendance of conferences and other events related to the profession, as well as joining health networks and forums to represent the organization.

Qualified nurses will enjoy more job security too, as employers will want to retain nurses with advanced qualifications and therefore proven skills and knowledge of great value. A high level of professional acumen and ability may enable nurses to seek out job roles – or negotiate with employers – to attain a work pattern and hours that best suit them. This could include, for example, taking on hours that match parental commitments. In turn, this ensures better work-life balance.

Furthermore, being more assured, knowledgeable, and skilled in the profession will inevitably make nurses calmer and more focused during the working day. They will be better able to rise to challenges, learn from issues, and make improvements in the workplace.

This all ensures that nurses feel less overburdened, underappreciated, and beset by pressure.

Teaching nursing

One of the ways a master’s can boost a nursing career is to provide nurses with the skills and knowledge needed for an educational role. With such a shortage of qualified nurses in the US, it is extremely rewarding to be part of the long-term solution.

This doesn’t necessarily have to involve a post as a nurse educator based in a university, for example. Many large healthcare organizations have professional teams tasked with mentoring, training, and developing student nurses.

Being qualified to the level of a master’s in nursing will enable nurses to confidently coach and support less experienced nurses in any healthcare environment and role they choose.

Leadership and management potential

A master’s in nursing focuses on the attributes that define leaders and how they differ from managers. Fundamentally, it allows nurses to enhance and prove their acumen in heading up teams and bringing the best out of colleagues.

This could lead to managing a clinical team consisting of various healthcare personnel. Their role would be to delegate responsibilities, orchestrate the work of the team, measure success against pre-agreed milestones, and find new and better ways to reach a positive outcome.

Often this leadership and managerial role is department or healthcare setting specific. However, nurses could also be involved in research and development projects that impact care to whole communities. Or their job could influence healthcare policy and delivery in the state, or nationwide.


In conclusion, a master’s degree in nursing stands as a beacon of opportunity and transformation within the nursing profession. It is a key that unlocks doors to advanced roles, greater responsibility, and an array of fulfilling career paths. For those who seek to elevate their nursing careers and maximize their potential impact on patient care, the pursuit of a master’s degree is not just an option; it’s a necessity.

Nurse Practitioners, in particular, have become vital in addressing the challenges of an aging population, evolving medical practices, and the shortage of healthcare providers. Their advanced clinical skills, honed through master’s programs, allow them to take on responsibilities that were traditionally reserved for physicians. As a result, NPs are in high demand, making a master’s degree in nursing a gateway to a highly valued and rewarding career.