Where I work, we have a trend of nurses obtaining multiple degrees after obtaining basic nursing training and their RN license. At a management meeting this issue came up about why nurses are going for all these degrees (MSN, MPH, MBA, MPA, MHA, DNP, JD, Dr.P.H. etc.). I have colleagues that have two or three graduate degrees. I frequently see these degreed nurses working in staff, charge or lower level non clinical work (case management/discharge planning). The degree(s) did not get them far from the bedside.
An attending physician made a point that being a manager or charge nurse does not require an MBA degree. Another doctor stated that his son works at a Fortune 100 company in a significant job with a bachelor level education.
The impression I got is that the attendees saw this degree mania in nursing as silly and wasteful. The word wasteful was used as the facility provides tuition reimbursement.
Another comment was made that these degrees are mostly online degrees or from low standard/open enrollment schools. There appears to be true to this statement.
A department head then said why can't nurses be happy to be a nurse. If they want to be managers or executive, move on so that nurses who want to nurse can be at the bedside. He then discussed a nurse colleague who has two management degrees who is a bedside nurse and a nursing supervisor who has four graduate degrees (she has a master's in nursing to be an adult health nurse practitioner, a master's in public health, a master's in business and a master's in community health). The sad part is that the 4 graduate degree nursing supervisor could not prepare a report detailing an major event that occurred when she was on duty (she asked me to rewrite what she had written so as to not be embarrassed by her poor language skills--English is her second language). About twenty years ago I worked with a nurse who went to school to get a master's degree in journalism. She wanted out of nursing and saw journalism as her ticket. Unfortunately, when she graduated she could not locate a job that paid. She did not investigate the need to pay her dues in the competitive field of journalism. End result, she ended up staying in nursing. The impression we had of her then was she was a nice lady who was misguided and did not investigate what awaits graduates of her program. I hope by now she had paid off her student loans.
Back to the discussion...I did not respond about this issue during the meeting as I myself have mixed feelings about getting degrees especially since I do not see the degree holder having benefited from the education. Writing skills are still poor, professional presentation and presence is lacking and analytic skills are weak. When I interact with my degreed colleagues, I think to myself, what has all this schooling taught you?
In my day, you entered nursing via a diploma or associated degree and learned your trade on the floor. A degree (BSN or MSN)was needed to be a nursing director or nursing professor. I really never understood why nurses undertook going for these degrees since they stayed in nursing anyway. I know a few nurses over the years who thought that an MBA/MPH would get them into corporate America/government position only to be heartbroken that the degree got them nowhere. Having an MBA in marketing or Finance really isn't applicable to nursing even at the highest levels. Adding to this is the fact that if you do not practice these fields or specialty areas, you are not competent but rather have a degree as a trophy.
As for the DNP, I understand the logic of wanting to be like pharmacy and physical therapy, but even with a clinical doctorate degree, they are still a pharmacist or a physical therapist. If it hasn't elevated these other professions, what makes us think it will elevate us? Where I work, the culture of not calling these degree holders "doctor" prevails.
Anyway, I wanted to hear what other nurses think about the degree proliferation in nursing. Do you think this is a good trend or is this just breeding more discontented nurses who will continue to dream about careers they will never have?