Benefit of MSN for bedside RN?

Nurses General Nursing


  • by 1fastRN
    Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

I'm an ER nurse with a BSN. I want to pursue futher education to broaden my knowledge and keep myself marketable. My hospital offers tuition reimbursement that would allow me to slowly pursue a Master's. Now i really have no desire to become an NP. I really enjoy being an ER RN. I have also thought about anesthesia but we will see.

My question is, can i pursue some type of masters but stay in my current role? I dont know if i would end up"overqualified". Im guessing there would be no pay increase because it wouldnt be a role change.

I will be taking the CEN exam within a is this my only option or should I bother going after a MSN?

macawake, MSN

2,141 Posts

I’m a Swedish nurse so I’m not sure that my opinion and experience is applicable on bedside nursing in the US. Here entry-level for nursing is a BSN. In 2010 47% of all nurses had attained a MSN. Masters degrees are available in surgical care, medical care, oncology, pediatrics, nurse midwife, geriatrics, OR, intensive care, anesthesia, prehospital (ambulance), psychiatry and district/community nursing.

Five out of these are a requirement to work in the various specialties (nurse midwife, anesthesia, intensive care, OR and prehospital) and will result in an increase in wage. The other specialty MSNs are not required for employmeny in that specialty but gives the nurse a competitive edge. Whether they will lead to an increase in wage or not varies. As a general rule two years of full-time clinical experience as a BSN nurse is required before starting a MSN program. (Exceptions have been made for future OR nurses since we’ve experienced a shortage in that specialty).

I don’t know what a MSN in the US entails. Here a MSN typically consists of clinicals in your chosen field, a more advanced level of knowledge (compared to the BSN) of the relevant pathophysiology and pharmacology, and more (again compared to the BSN) evidence-based practice and research methodology. The BSN is broad/generalist and the MSN is specialist/niche. All of which I consider a real asset bed-side and in my opinion in no way makes the nurse overqualified.

Again, I’m not sure if my opinions are helpful to you. There are many aspects to consider. Here, higher education is free of charge so the financial burden for the student/nurse is lower. But as you say in your post, you believe that further education will broaden your knowledge and keep yourself marketable. I agree with that. Also, who knows what the future will bring. You are happy bedside for now. Should you ever change your mind you will have more career options available to you with a MSN. So if you have the time, motivation and financial means to do this, I would say “go for it”!

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

I have seen an increasing number of hospital jobs for 'advanced practice' nurses. These roles are focused upon improving patient care (quality & safety) so they have a variety of titles, such as 'care coordinator' , 'clinical leader', etc. They require a clinical masters... could be an ACNP or CNS for that particular specialty. These folks take on the clinical aspects of leadership, which free up the administrative leader to focus on finance, budgeting, compliance, etc.

I know of two CNS-prepared nurses who are currently collaborating on development of a new nursing care model for their hospital system. Another one is responsible for 'evidence-based practice' - she teaches EBP concepts & skills, provides expert consultation to anyone who needs help conducting literature searches or analyzing data, leads a team of department-level folks who make sure that the P&P are current - & a whole lot of other 'stuff'. I know a CNS (women's health) that provides service-line clinical support in a very large hospital; working with managers, educators, infection control, accreditation folks, etc... she loves it.

There are all sorts of interesting options available for those of us who have a clinical masters but you will probably also need to be certified in your clinical specialty. Have a chat with your manager & get some input from him/her. There may be opportunities you are not aware of.

Best of luck on your educational journey

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