If you’re looking to enhance or improve your nursing skills—and take your nursing career further—there are a number of nursing degrees that can help.

''With the rise of electronic health records, the frequent invention of new health technologies, and the continual advance in our understanding of disease prevention and treatment, you have to know a lot to succeed in modern healthcare. And that may be doubly true for nurses.

The American Nurses Association calls nurses the frontline of healthcare, whose responsibilities will only increase in our attempts to improve costs and patient outcomes.1 As a nurse, you’re likely aware of this. But are you prepared?

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No matter where you are in your nursing career, there are probably skills you could learn that would make you a better—and more successful—nurse. And there’s no better way to improve your skills than to enroll in nursing school and earn a degree. Of course, the best nursing degree for you depends a lot on your current role, your education level, and your goals for your career in nursing. As such, here are three nursing degrees for three different points in your career.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

If you are an RN but don’t hold a bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a fantastic option. Through a bachelor’s in nursing program, you can gain valuable skills in leadership, informatics concepts, evidence-based practice, communication, and in the evaluation of policy on issues of access, equity, affordability, and social justice in healthcare delivery.

Such skills will not only help you be a better nurse, they can help you advance your career, giving you the qualifications you’ll need to serve as a nurse leader for your team, clinic, facility, or department. Additionally, going from your RN to BSN will ensure you are in line with the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that 80% of the nursing workforce hold at least a BSN by 2020—a recommendation that is driving state policies, such as New York’s recent law requiring all nurses to earn their BSN within 10 years of completing an RN program and earning their initial RN license.2

For RNs, earning a BSN degree is quickly becoming a necessity.

Master of Science in Nursing

If you already hold a BSN or any other type of bachelor’s degree, you can take your nursing skills and career a big step further by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). In an MSN program, you’ll be able to specialize, gaining expert-level skills in a specific area of nursing.

For example, a master’s degree in nursing can lead directly to becoming a nurse practitioner, a profession that’s in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 31% increase in jobs for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners between 2016 and 2026.3 Nurse practitioners are in such demand because the training qualifies them to treat patients directly and prescribe medications, much like a physician. While the amount of autonomy that nurse practitioners enjoy varies by state, the job requires a high level of skill, which is why every state requires at least an MSN degree to receive a practitioner nurse license.

Nevertheless, becoming a nurse practitioner is just one of the paths you can take with a master’s degree in nursing. Other specialties prepare you for careers in nursing education, nurse management, healthcare informatics, or public health nursing—all of which require their own advanced skills.

If you want to position yourself for some of the most in-demand nursing jobs, an MSN degree is a must-have.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Even if you already have an MSN or other master’s degree, you can still advance your skills by advancing your education. Most notably, you can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). DNP programs are designed for nursing professionals who want to translate research findings into direct evidence-based practice, develop organizational system changes for quality improvement in healthcare delivery, and develop the leadership in nursing skills necessary to work at the top of the nursing profession. Given that the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends all advanced practice nurses hold a doctoral degree, a DNP degree can also help your career as a nurse practitioner.4

What’s the Best Way to Earn Your Nursing Degree?

No matter which nursing degree is best for your career, you should consider earning your degree through an online nursing school. Online BSN programs, online MSN programs, and online DNP programs all provide conveniences that make completing your degree more possible, particularly if you plan to continue working full time.

Unlike most campus-based programs, online nursing programs allow you to complete the majority of your coursework from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. Plus, online learning is designed for flexible class scheduling, giving you the power to attend class at whatever time of day works best for you. In other words, when you earn a nursing degree online, you can schedule your program around your current nursing job.

Our healthcare system needs highly skilled nurses. Thanks to online education, you can gain those much-needed skills through a nursing degree program.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


1Source: www.theamericannurse.org/2015/05/01/on-the-front-line-of-quality-the-future-of-health-care/
2Source: https://nurse.org/articles/BSN-initiative-80-2020/
3Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
4Source: www.aacnnursing.org/DNP/About/Talking-Points

Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission www.hlcommission.org.

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