Recent "older" BSN Grad - Should I get my MSN?

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    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development, Freelance Writer. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I am a recent BSN grad and just started my first RN job in the type of unit that I wanted all through school. I had figured that I would spend the first few years focusing on my skills, learning as much as possible, and studying every diagnosis, procedure, and med. Maybe in the future I will work towards some sort of specialty certification, like CCRN or OCN, depending upon where I am and where my interest lie, further down the road.

I am older and plan on reasonably working for another 20 years. I wonder if I should start working on some sort of part-time Master's degree? I have zero interest in studying anything related to management (my old career). It seems like a Masters is the competitive thing to do. I am not deeply motivated to pursue another degree but will certainly apply myself if it is a good idea.

I am not getting any younger and worry about letting too much time pass on something that may enhance my career.


Dear Should I Get my MSN?

Since you are not particularly motivated to get your MSN, and don't have a clear track in mind….I would wait.

With your BSN and your accumulating experience, many jobs would be open to you.

Very few jobs require a master's, and you are not interested in management. If you had said you want to teach in academia some day, or be a Staff Development Educator, then it would be a good idea.

Maybe when you have worked a bit longer, and you find your passion, you can better decide whether your passion entails getting an advanced degree to pursue it. Or not. In some specialties, you are just as well off to obtain a nursing certification as a Master's degree.

In the meantime, enjoy your new career in the unit you wanted all through school. Congratulations :)

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

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amoLucia

7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

I would graciously differ in my opinion from that of Nurse Beth's. And I think I'm thinking along the same lines for the future as Letter Writer is thinking too.

As much as I hate to say this, ageism is a real possibility for older nurses. An MSN may be the 'hedge' factor/'ace in the hole' for job security and/or mobility for an older nurse. (Just throwing this out there.)

I'm figuring Letter Writer should be in her early 40's. And, God be willing, her health will hold out for those 20 years or so. But that could change with the bat of an eye and a simple misstep on her basement stairs. Other significant life changes also possible.

It is unknown at this time how the future of nsg may evolve in the future. A Master degree may become the required degree for such positions as Infection Control, QI/QA, IT, etc. Will she be prepared to compete at an older age?

I believe there is another thought to consider re starting an MSN. I THINK (and I may be wrong) but a 'clock' starts ticking when one enrolls. There's a time limit for degree completion if I recall for a grad school degree. (Someone set me straight if I'm off here.) My thinking is 50/50. Wait too long to start school and you're behind everyone else at an older age. Start too soon and the burden is to finish regardless ... At this time, Letter Writer is still fresh in undergrad study skills, technology, support systems, etc. Not to mention that school costs can only be expected to increase with time. Also one must consider the admissions competition to increase also (AEB the current increasing enrollments NOW).

Letter Writer does NOT have the luxury of planning for a long-term future. Her goal is more intermediate-term and she sees that. My recommendation would be for her to seriously investigate and pursue graduate education. It would be one thing if she had said she had "zero interest" at all for continuing her education (like she commented re management). She seeks to be competitive. And that reality will be grad school.

plc19

21 Posts

I would graciously differ in my opinion from that of Nurse Beth's. And I think I'm thinking along the same lines for the future as Letter Writer is thinking too.

As much as I hate to say this, ageism is a real possibility for older nurses. An MSN may be the 'hedge' factor/'ace in the hole' for job security and/or mobility for an older nurse. (Just throwing this out there.)

I'm figuring Letter Writer should be in her early 40's. And, God be willing, her health will hold out for those 20 years or so. But that could change with the bat of an eye and a simple misstep on her basement stairs. Other significant life changes also possible.

It is unknown at this time how the future of nsg may evolve in the future. A Master degree may become the required degree for such positions as Infection Control, QI/QA, IT, etc. Will she be prepared to compete at an older age?

I believe there is another thought to consider re starting an MSN. I THINK (and I may be wrong) but a 'clock' starts ticking when one enrolls. There's a time limit for degree completion if I recall for a grad school degree. (Someone set me straight if I'm off here.) My thinking is 50/50. Wait too long to start school and you're behind everyone else at an older age. Start too soon and the burden is to finish regardless ... At this time, Letter Writer is still fresh in undergrad study skills, technology, support systems, etc. Not to mention that school costs can only be expected to increase with time. Also one must consider the admissions competition to increase also (AEB the current increasing enrollments NOW).

Letter Writer does NOT have the luxury of planning for a long-term future. Her goal is more intermediate-term and she sees that. My recommendation would be for her to seriously investigate and pursue graduate education. It would be one thing if she had said she had "zero interest" at all for continuing her education (like she commented re management). She seeks to be competitive. And that reality will be grad school.

I totally agree. I have had all the above happen to me. There may be a day that you will not want to be a floor nurse, more like not physically able. Obtaining a masters puts you in a better position for various areas of nursing. I waited 20 years to be a nurse and still waiting for my RN. I will not give up but I can tell you I don't have the stamina I had few years ago. With age comes wisdom and that is advice. I take all I can get. Here's to us nurses.

benwade

22 Posts

Has 25+ years experience.

As amoLucia says, ageism will affect you later and having a Master's will be a very useful hedge against this.

RNMyk

5 Posts

The average age of a Registered Nurse is 47.1 years, percentage of RN's under forty ~ 29.8%, percentage of working nurse over fifty ~ 53%. There's always people who think an alphabet behind your name is job security, but I don't think you have to worry about "ageism" until you're about seventy.