Love Caring for Patients - So Why Do You Need to go Back to School?

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    Nurses are there for patients when they need it most. Connecting with people while providing compassionate bedside care is why many decide to first enter into the world of nursing. After years of gaining experience and perfecting the art of hands on care, why return to school?

    Love Caring for Patients - So Why Do You Need to go Back to School?

    For some nurses, continuing their education is the logical next step in their career. While all nurses possess a license, there are several options to choose from regarding education. A practicing RN may have a diploma, ADN or BSN degree and obtain them in a number of ways. From there, some may choose to gain clinical experience then move on to a graduate program and obtain a MSN degree (which has several possible specialties) or continue on and pursue a doctorate in nursing. There are many routes to choose from including accelerated programs for each level. There are a world of opportunities that come with advancing your degree. However, for others the decision may not be so simple. There are many factors to consider such as finances, availability and future career pursuits. Life events may alter a chosen path and career goals can change. Could going back to school be realistic for you?

    Becoming a nurse takes an enormous amount of dedication and hard work and it doesn't end with landing your first job. Nurses at all levels of education deservedly have a lot of pride for their earned title and work. With that said, the benefits of additional education are not exclusive to those working away from the bedside.

    While it is still very possible to obtain an RN license with an associate degree or diploma, these programs are becoming harder to find in recent years. Many hospitals and healthcare systems now list a bachelor's degree as a mandatory or preferred level of education. Each credit taken only increases your already vast knowledge base of patient care and can potentially change future patient outcomes; learning a new treatment modality, management style or research method. Going back to school can open your mind to other areas of nursing, possibly seeing a different specialty with a new level of interest and a fresh perspective. It can also provide the opportunity to meet new people and network within your profession.

    Maybe you don't see yourself going back to school right now and that's okay. It can be easy to put the decision on the back burner and assume you will get to it eventually. However, nurses know better than most that life can change quickly and with little advance notice. Seeking higher education now may serve a future personal lifestyle need or career desire and can allow for casting a wider net of opportunity down the road. In the ever-changing world of healthcare there's no such thing as knowing too much or being too prepared. It can take years to master one particular area of healthcare, if ever.

    Keeping up with new developments in medicine everyday can prove difficult. New technologies, improved delivery systems and changes to evidence based practice all require frequent shifts in care methods. Not only can higher education prepare you clinically with updated information on best practice, it can also provide additional resources to refer back to while on the job. Having a working knowledge of where and how to find current information on specific patient cases can be an incredibly useful tool and potentially change a treatment course or outcome.

    If you love taking care of patients, going back to school does not have to change that career constant. It can offer a different way to interact and connect with them. There are many nursing positions that prefer or require degrees and still maintain direct patient contact. For example, a bachelor's prepared nurse most certainly can deliver bedside care and bring additional knowledge to many clinical situations. A master's prepared nurse could be a patient educator or nurse practitioner, both positions having a prominent impact on everyday patient care. There are many examples and even more possibilities in the field of nursing. To find what interests you most, explore your options.

    Going back to school is no small decision and there are many outside factors to keep in mind. However, obtaining a higher degree does not have to take you away from the thing you love the most... taking care of patients. If returning to school is the right choice for you the benefits are plentiful; preparing you for future career endeavors and providing additional clinical knowledge allowing for delivery of the best possible care. Take a moment today and ask yourself, "Could going back to school be for me?"

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    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18

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    4 Comments so far...

  3. by   klcrn1987
    I am a 30 year "diploma RN". I have thought about going back for my degree several times but.... at the time I graduated, there wasn't very much difference in the pay between a diploma RN and a ADRN or BSN...I had to get to work with a paycheck ASAP and had a small child so I couldn't afford to go back to school. As the years passed, I realized that I really enjoyed working with the patients and really didn't enjoy the paperwork and the hassles of "being in charge". I had no desire to be the boss....I liked being the "pee on"(no offence meant to anyone)!!! I saw no need to go through the time and expense of getting my BSN. Yes, I have lost out on a few jobs because their starting requirements were to have a degree... but in the long run... I have not regretted not going back to school. I have accomplished all I've wanted with just a diploma......
  4. by   BSNbeauty
    I'm content with my BSN. Bedside nursing is my Thing
  5. by   KKmtnRN
    28 years of experience with ADN. Plan to retire in 3-5 years. I thought about going back to school a long time ago, but it just didn't happen. Have to factor in the cost of going back to school. If I spend $ 10- 20k and only average a 2% raise each year, it's totally not worth it. Definitely, don't want to be in management. Sitting in meetings about the budget, patient complaints, hierarchy of always doing more with less, etc. No thanks ! I became a nurse to care for patients, not sit in an office. A RN of long ago who went from CNA to CNO said , " you can't write a paper, take a class, or get a higher degree that teaches compassion.... you either have it or not. " I've always remembered that.
  6. by   mmc51264
    my only 2 cents about those that are not interested in the part of nursing that does involve direct nursing care is that we need the veteran nurses n the trenches to help identify things that might work and things that are just stupid. I am working on the floor while getting my informatics degree and some of the changes they come up, I scratch my head and think"did you even ASK the nurses?"

    I went back to school because I like school. I also love nursing. I have no ambitions of being a manger or CNO, my goal is to make floor nursing easier and more efficient so that the changes we appear to have little control over-changes so that those nurses that don't want to be charge nurse etc, still have a say in what is important to them.

    More education is not necessary to do this, but I just want people to think about being involved