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Should I Do Entry Level MSN?

Nurse Beth   (320 Views | 4 Replies)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I already hold an undergrad degree in biology, and a MA degree in environmental education, but I'm ready for a career change. I'm debating between doing an entry level master of nursing program, or instead pursuing a lower level RN program. Which one would be better for entry level jobs? I'm concerned that having the entry level MSN will put me in position of being overeducated and under-experienced. What are you thoughts on the ease of finding a job as an entry level MSN graduate?

Dear Concerned,

A BSN would be sufficient to land an entry-level nursing job.

It's possible that having an MSN could be seen as over-educated by some employers, and it will not necessarily help you.

An MSN is best pursued by working registered nurses who are specializing in their career after having gained experience. Once you enter a masters program, you will have to decide whether you want to specialize in administration, or education, or earn your Nurse Practitioner, for example.

It's best to give yourself time to make sure you obtain the educational preparation for the path you choose.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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llg has 43 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

6 Followers; 13,247 Posts; 59,369 Profile Views

I have a slightly different perspective on this, Nurse Beth-- and I don't usually disagree with you.    I think the real answer is "it depends."

I would advise the OP to do a little research on the hiring practices of the hospitals in the region where he/she wants to live and work.  In some areas, the entry-level MSN degrees are fairly common and accepted.   My hospital would welcome such a new grad into a staff nurse position.   When we hire someone like that, we know they may choose to advance up the career ladder a little more quickly than some other nurses, but we are OK with that.  If they are working for us, we are happy to get the new staff nurse who has the potential to advance - and we will promote them when we feel they are ready (not before).   We see it as a win-win situation for us.

However, some hospitals are not so receptive to the alternative educational paths.   If that is the case with the hospitals where the OP really wants to work, then maybe a BSN is the place to start.   But a BSN will be more expensive in the long run if the person ends up wanting a graduate degree in the long run.   So I think the entry-level MSN's are worth considering if the local employers are receptive to it.

Also, what types of MSN's are available -- a "generalist" degree such as a CNL degree?  Such a degree does not force the student to pick a specialty prematurely.   I do believe it is a mistake to choose a specialty before having any experience in it.   But some entry-level MSN programs don't force you to pick a specialty.   I would recommend one of those.

"Investigate first ... then decide,"  is what I would recommend.

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It’s definitely market dependent. In my area, the sole ELMSN is not a respected program, so it’s graduates have difficulty obtaining a position.  It is not always cheaper.  My community college ADN plus BSN/MSN from WGU were less than $15,000 total. If I would have played my cards better, I could have gotten tuition reimbursement for the last two degrees too. 

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5 Posts; 101 Profile Views

1 hour ago, beekee said:

It’s definitely market dependent. In my area, the sole ELMSN is not a respected program, so it’s graduates have difficulty obtaining a position.  It is not always cheaper.  My community college ADN plus BSN/MSN from WGU were less than $15,000 total. If I would have played my cards better, I could have gotten tuition reimbursement for the last two degrees too. 

Your degrees combined cost $15,000?  How long ago?  In my area, ADN/BSN/MSN all cost the same, which is in the neighborhood of $40,000.  Seems a shame to get a lower level degree if one can go straight for the MSN for the same price, unless of course it makes finding entry work difficult/impossible.

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1 Follower; 770 Posts; 7,206 Profile Views

21 minutes ago, secondcareernurse said:

Your degrees combined cost $15,000?  How long ago?  In my area, ADN/BSN/MSN all cost the same, which is in the neighborhood of $40,000.  Seems a shame to get a lower level degree if one can go straight for the MSN for the same price, unless of course it makes finding entry work difficult/impossible.

Less than 5 years ago. 

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