Key to Happiness for a Nurse? Specialization

by Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor University (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in Nursing Education Grounded In Christian Faith.

Do you feel frustrated after your shift? Feeling insecure and daunted by the heavy workload and unexpected surprises that you handle daily? You’re not alone. The reasons you are feeling this way may be compounded by healthcare changes that are demanding more of everyone. There is change in the air. This is a perfect time to take control of your career.

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Key to Happiness for a Nurse? Specialization

Over 2.9 million RNs are working in the U.S. Yet many nurses are disappointed to find that the challenges they face often outweigh the rewards. When patient-staff ratios, long wait times for care, extended shifts and heavy-handed treatment get you down, it could be time to shift your focus and pursue a nurse specialization. According to a 2016 Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report, many nurses feel frustrated by hospital politics and policies, under-appreciated by administrators, and believe top administrators lack understanding of what they do or the required resources to do their work.

If you want to change your career trajectory, look to specialization such as the nurse practitioner. Advanced nursing degrees are something that can create more career satisfaction and lead to new opportunities. If you are looking for a specific direction, nurse leadership through greater specialization is something to consider.

Changes in Healthcare are Demanding a More Educated Nursing Workforce

Many healthcare changes occurring simultaneously are compounding the nurse shortage and patient-staff ratios that everyone already knows about. In a snowball effect, RNs in the field are impacted by many things going on at once:

  • the ongoing retirement of a large percentage of the nursing workforce
  • an increasingly complex healthcare delivery
  • the aging population
  • people living longer with chronic diseases such as cancer
  • changing demographics among nurses and patients
  • greater use of technology in nursing
  • insurance reform
  • MAGNET certified hospitals requiring BSN prepared nurses

This is not necessarily bad news as opportunities abound for nurse leaders. Trends that emphasize collaboration across the board - among nurses and between nurses and other healthcare providers - favor nurses schooled in cooperative models with advanced degrees.

Job satisfaction among nurses with specialization is high. MSN nurses indicate that their MSN degrees allow them to go deeper into their profession. From better job prospects, to having a larger choice of specialization, better pay, being qualified to teach nursing, personal satisfaction, being a role model, having career advancement, shaping the future of healthcare, having increased flexibility at work, and being able to study online, the rewards of getting an MSN are many.

The Collective Voice of Nurse Leaders Can Bring Happiness to All Nurses

The beginnings of a #nursestoo movement in its infancy is already calling for the collective voices of nurses to assert greater control over nursing practice and nurses' perceived value by others. Empowered nurses with advanced degrees could band together to create systemic changes where they work and help nurses overall.

Competitiveness Is Out: Collaboration Is In

The way we work together affects how happy we are, and happiness in nursing can result from highly-evolved teams working together. Nurse leadership can build on the strengths of nurses with different views by actively listening, communicating the team's vision, clearly defining roles, recognizing achievement and motivating each team member to form a common purpose and bond. Hospital nursing teams with advanced nursing degrees can find consensus regarding modern approaches to patient care as well as to the cultivation of powerful team building strategies.

When members of nursing teams are highly tuned to each other in serving the best needs of the patient, sharing and collaboration become givens. The competitive player on a team of happy nurses who cooperatively help one another becomes the exception rather than the norm.

For nurses interested in capitalizing on the current changes and demands, there's room for you as a nurse leader who can influence evolving policies that cater to nurses. Ample opportunities exist for entrepreneurial nurse practitioners who offer models of healthcare delivery that are more patient-oriented. The chance to shape the next generation of nurses as a visionary nurse educator is also out there for anyone who wants to become qualified for it. These and other satisfying roles with higher pay are available to nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing degree. A great way to acquire an MSN is either through a part-time RN-MSN program or BSN-MSN program that you can take online while keeping your regular job.

Capitalize on Your Own Growth as a Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Specialist

Among nurses who work together, the benefits of replacing the "us versus them" mentality with a "growth" mentality are there for anyone who wants to get on the growth train. Long gone are attitudes that foster RNs resenting BSNs, older nurses and newbie nurses competing with each other, or BSNs questioning the decisions of MSNs. Current healthcare challenges and demands of the rapidly changing nursing profession mean that teamwork and collaboration are highly valued. As an advanced practice nurse, you'll benefit from increased independence, more decision-making authority and the rewards of pulling together and leading a dynamic nursing team.

Nurse Practitioner Salary Exceeded RN Salary by Over $39,000

The financial rewards for nurses with advanced degrees are significant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners was $107,460 in May 2016. That same year, the median pay for RNs was $68,450. Currently, there are over 248,000 nurse practitioners licensed in the U.S., according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. There are many Nurse Practitioner jobs available in the U.S. for MSN nurses, at a median salary of $97,000 per year and reaching as high as $143,000 for some positions.

In a Medscape survey that examined salaries, over two thousand NPs stated their earnings by practice setting. NPs working in hospital inpatient care earned $109K, in military/government $107K, at skilled nursing facilities/other long-term care $107K, at a hospital-based outpatient setting or clinic $104K, at a non-hospital-based medical office/urgent care clinic $101K, in a public health/occupational health setting $96K, and as faculty in an academic setting $94K. Average nurse practitioner earnings by educational degree indicated that NPs with Master's degrees earned $102K, and NPs with Doctorate degrees earned $110K, according to a 2016 Medscape survey.

Education allowance and education reimbursement had been provided to 78% of NP respondents in the same survey. Other benefits offered to nurse practitioners by their employers were paid time off, health insurance, professional liability coverage, professional society membership dues and paid parental leave.

More Expertise Will Increase Your Career Choices

Any nurse experiencing frustration at work, regardless of degree or age, could find happiness through advanced nursing education. An MSN allows for more specialization, more control over your career and more career paths. Becoming a specialized nurse through advanced education can lead to a lot of good things. Employers seek nurses with advanced degrees such as an MSN because of the need to develop care in complex situations. There's a world of specialization and nurse leadership waiting for you to take ownership of, if you're willing to take a chance on yourself. All you have to do is decide on the future that's best suited to you. has defined some nurse specialties as:

Nurse Practitioner (Median Salary $97,050)

Nurse practitioners manage acute and chronic medical conditions through comprehensive history taking, physical exam, and the ordering of diagnostic tests and treatments.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (Median Salary $85,850)

A type of nurse practitioner who works under the supervision of a doctor, on elderly patients with acute and chronic illnesses.

Health Policy Nursing/Nurse Advocate (Median Salary $82,000)

You will analyze public and health policy so you can help to shape new nursing policy that helps patients of all ages.

Nurse Educator (Median Salary $94,950)

This is a nurse who teaches and prepares licensed practical nurses and registered nurses for entry into practice positions.

Nursing Executive and Nursing CEO (Median Salary $112,650)

In this job, you have the opportunity to shape health care policies at your organization or facility.

An Empowered Nurse is a Nurse Practitioner

As in any field, happiness in nursing comes from empowerment. One of the greatest rewards of being a nurse practitioner with an MSN degree is the breadth of opportunity for nurse specialization in areas such as family care, women's health, adult care and others.

Patient satisfaction with NP care is remarkably high. Abundant research shows that NPs provide care that is equivalent or better than physicians at a lower total cost. They help lower healthcare costs as much as one third because patients who have NPs as their primary care provider have fewer ER visits and shorter hospital stays.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Spring Arbor University provides online education opportunities for nurses who want to do more with your drive to make a difference. Gain career growth in primary or preventative care on your own schedule while you continue to work. Lead change, advance health, and go forward as you educate patients and families on their continued care. Contact us to find out more about our MSN-NP, MSN-NE, MSN/MBA, RN-MSN-NP, RN-BSN and other online nursing programs.

This is a sponsored article brought to you by in conjunction with the advertiser. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect, its parent company, or its staff.

Advance your nursing degree while working full time. You can choose from different tracks including: Nurse Practitioner (FNP and AGCNP, Primary Care), Education, and MSN/MBA dual degree. Learn more at

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