MSN in Education vs. NP - any advice?

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    I'd greatly appreciate any input, pro or con, especially from nursing instructors!

    I've been an RN for 4 years and have always worked in cardiology, including tele, ACCU, and now an OP clinic. It's a good gig but it's not where I want to be in five years. I'd always figured I'd go on for a graduate degree and become an NP after getting some experience. But I'm just not sure it's the best fit for me, either personally or long term career-wise. (I'm 40, FWIW.)

    Recently I've been thinking instead about pursuing the MSN/Education route instead. I love to teach; it's my favorite part of my job. It's likely I could get a scholarship, given the need for nursing instructors. Most of all, the idea of teaching *excites* me -- this is the first time I've been enthusiastic about going to grad school! I love working with young people (of all ages) and it seems it would be very rewarding to work with student nurses.

    I mentioned this with a nurse friend and she was not very supportive -- she seemed to think I was selling myself short by not going for NP -- "why would you want to deal with bratty students for the same money you make now? NP's have some autonomy!" She has a point about the money, but that's not a dealbreaker for me.

    So, for those who are educators, what are the pros? What are the cons? If you had your career to do over, would you choose education again?

    Any comments, good bad or indifferent, are welcome!

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  2. 16 Comments...

  3. 1
    I feel the same way! I have a BS, and in Texas we can only teach LVNs, need a master to teach BS/BSN students. I am currently in grad school, and need to make a decisions with pathway by August(since clinical for NP stuff starts Jan). I applied to a part time...x1 a week clinical instructor for LVNs at the local community college. This will give me some experence to see if I would rather get the education tract or get the NP tract (which i would use for teaching as well..although a little longer)
    bluesnurse likes this.
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    It's my opinion that you need to have ample clinical experience in order to teach. Will the MSN in Education give you enough or do you already have enough? It's much more valuable to be taught by the instructor who knows the "stuff" inside out than by the instructor who knows how to teach, officially, but doesn't have much practical experience. Just because you might have a MSN in Education doesn't mean you'll know how to teach everything! How about just a plain old MSN in a specialty area, and then you teach that area?
    bluesnurse likes this.
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    My 2 cents- follow your heart. I have just started teaching ADN clinicals while I work on my MSN/Ed. I love clinical days! I still work 3 days a week on the tele floor, and am lucky to teach clinicals on my unit. The students really respect an instuctor who knows the realities of the unit. I love seeing the lightbulbs go off!
    I have looked at salaries, and know I will take a pay cut to teach. But I hope to supplement my income teaching an online course or two.
    I once took a job with a $7/hour pay cut. It was the best job, and eventually, I got a promotion and raises, and got back up to a decent rate. So I know that money isn't everything.
    Do what *excites* you.
    PS-not all students are bratty. Most of them appreciate your help and guidance. The bratty ones- weed them out. As teachers we are sustaining our profession in the best way possible.
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    Wow, thanks for the responses -- lots of food for thought! Whispera, I hadn't thought of an MSN in a specialty area but that is another great alternative. So far I've only checked out one program in my city and they don't have a CNS track, but I will check out some schools that do.

    I completely agree that experience is everything in teaching. I'll definitely specialize in cardiology. I was an echo tech for ten years before becoming a nurse and also had some cath lab experience, so I'm very strong on the A&P/patho/data side.

    OTOH, I'm a recent enough grad to remember that NONE of that prepared me for the first day I walked into a patient's room with an RN badge on my coat. Knowing the nuts and bolts is one thing; learning to convert all that data into good nursing practice is quite another.

    It's also important to me that I do get some educational theory. People have told me I explain things well, but I've never had any formal training and it would help to have some framework. Unfortunately I experienced an instructor whose classes were captivating but void of practical information, as well as one who was technically brilliant but hopelessly dry.

    And JoMom4 -- I kind of like the bratty ones. As a former brat myself, I can relate to them
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    Hi, I wanted to add my comments to you as I am an MSN prepared NP working as an educator in a hospital setting and with ADN students. I love my jobs. I cannot even tell you how rewarded I am. I do regret at this time I am not working as an NP and plan to take a part time offering in the winter to get some experience in this arena. I don't think you will ever regret having the NP. I am glad I sucked it up, did the clinical hours all 700 of them and can now have many more opportunties then I would have had as a straight MSN education tract.OTOH, my friend switched out of our np program because she wanted more theory and educational focus. The advice to follow your heart is solid but I for one have been very pleased to have more opportunities then my colleagues who do not have NP licensure. And so far as "bratty students" I have been blessed I've had one in 4 years that drove me a bit crazy but most are wonderful and they are the reason I love my job and look forward to each day with them. Good luck and god bless!!
    rgbrn likes this.
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    Quote from Whispera
    It's my opinion that you need to have ample clinical experience in order to teach. Will the MSN in Education give you enough or do you already have enough? It's much more valuable to be taught by the instructor who knows the "stuff" inside out than by the instructor who knows how to teach, officially, but doesn't have much practical experience. Just because you might have a MSN in Education doesn't mean you'll know how to teach everything! How about just a plain old MSN in a specialty area, and then you teach that area?
    Actually the point of getting a MSN with an education emphasis is to learn how to teach (just like other 'teachers"). I believe that the reason this 'specialty' was developed was because there was no consistency in nursing education. We also had advanced practice nurses who were teaching, but 1) most of them no longer worked as a bedside nurses and were out of touch with current bedside nursing practice, and 2) they didn't have any formal training on how to teach a course, or develop their teaching materials, or even how to advise or fairly grade a student. Teaching is a lot harder then you think it is!

    FYI _ In some states such as mine, by 2011 all nursing instructors must have either a MSN in education or a post masters certificate in Education (in addition to their first MSN degree) in order to teach (FT) at state community colleges or universities. So check the state you live in (or might move too) because NC is not the only state making this change.

    One more comment ... I am 46 yo and just starting my MSN after working for 20 years as a bedside nurse. It is never too late and let's face it I have at least 20-25 yrs before retirement. My long term plan is to teach full time and continue to work PRN as a bedside nurse. That way I don't loose touch with what I am teaching.
    JoMom4 likes this.
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    Agreed, that's the point of the MSN in Education. It's good to have knowledge about how to teach if you're going to do it. If it was easy to teach teachers wouldn't need to go to college. Back in the olden days when I got my BSN, we had quite a few classes in the art of education...I wonder if that's still happening. As for me, I got a double major...in education and nursing--it's been quite helpful.
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    "One more comment ... I am 46 yo and just starting my MSN after working for 20 years as a bedside nurse. It is never too late and let's face it I have at least 20-25 yrs before retirement."
    Good for you! I am the same age and a little over half way through my grad degree. I feel the same- I still have many more years to contribute to the profession.
    I actually enjoy the courses and working with other nurses towards my degree.
    Good luck!
    jlcole45 likes this.
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    I am 45 years old and have one more year until I finish my MSN in Education. I have been a nurse over 20 years and am ready to teach in a nursing program. I like the thought of teaching in the RN to BSN program, but I would have to look into job availability. The nursing program I'm in is excellent in preparing me to teach. I am so excited about the thought of teaching 20 more years, I feel I have great work experience that I can share with students. So as far as NP or Nursing Education? You have to ask yourself what are your short and long term career goals? Best of Luck!


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