MSN/FNP or MSN/Ed?

  1. Hello fellow nurses!

    I have been a nurse for 3.5 years and have recently completed 6 classes in the core curriculum of an online MSN/FNP program. This past semester I withdrew for a much-needed break and to reassess my goals. Honestly, I was burning out. Now that I have time to reflect, I have some general reservations about continuing in the MSN/FNP track and am considering switching to the Education track or simply stopping the program entirely.

    I like the idea of obtaining the MSN in that it seems to be a generic qualification to be an adjunct professor or a clinical instructor, and perhaps for organizational advancement, etc. However, in terms of which track to choose, everything I have read and heard, even the government forecasts from HRSA, suggests that there is already a surplus of primary care PAs and NPs in many areas, and that there will be an overwhelming surplus in every state by 2025. However, I haven't found any reliable indicators regarding the various practice environments for MSN/Education.

    Full disclosure: I got into nursing, and was/am pursuing the FNP, from a more practical standpoint of gainful employment as opposed to following a clearly defined passion. I do however greatly enjoy precepting and teaching, so all things being equal, the education actually feels like a much better fit. My concern is that this is not a trivial investment, and I am trying to weigh the return on investment. That is, is an MSN/Ed. a better decision than an MSN/FNP in terms of salary and job prospects?

    I appreciate your thoughts and insight.
    •  
  2. Visit Wonky215 profile page

    About Wonky215

    Joined: Nov '15; Posts: 3
    from PA , US

    8 Comments

  3. by   llg
    There is a major faculty shortage -- and it is expected to continue for quite a while. So if you really want to work for a school of nursing and teach, there should be a fair number of opportunities in many areas of the country.

    However ... one reason there is a faculty shortage is that the pay and working conditions tend to be pretty poor for the instructor-level faculty members. It is better for the doctorally-prepared faculty at higher levels of the academic hierarchy, but NP's tend to make more money in most job markets (assuming you can find a good NP job).

    Some people take their MSN's in Education and work as educators for hospitals and other health care institutions -- thus earning more money than typical college faculty. (Full disclosure: I work full time for a hospital doing staff education and teach an occasional online class for a university as an adjunct faculty member.)

    Add it all together ... and my recommendation is to follow your heart. Choose your path based on the type of work that you would prefer to do. Whatever you choose, you will have your fair share of joys and frustrations ... opportunities and roadblocks. There is not perfect choice. So "choose your poison." Choose the path with the job you will like the most and then be prepared to deal with the problems.

    Good luck!
  4. by   BostonFNP
    Nothing is a good investment until you decide what you want to do, you are just throwing money at a wall and hoping it sticks. Hold off until you have a fairly good idea. Think about a lifelong career not just the next step.

    I will say I am not sure what benefit a MSN in Ed would be for you. If you want to consider a faculty/academic role then you really should be thinking about a PhD as most employers will be looking for a terminal degree.
  5. by   LilyRN99
    I work for a LPN school and someone told me that you can be an educator with any MSN but you can't be a NP with MSN in education. A coworker is a NP and also teaches clinical. Currently my job doesn't require me to have a MSN and I only teach clinicals. Most schools in my area have a waiting list probably due to lack of faculty. Good luck with whatever you choose but with such a huge investment, you should be confident with your choice.
  6. by   elkpark
    Quote from LilyRN99
    Most schools in my area have a waiting list probably due to lack of faculty.
    (For most schools, it's not just a shortage of qualified faculty, but also a shortage of appropriate clinical sites, esp. for the specialty rotations. For most schools, even if they had twice as many faculty tomorrow, they still wouldn't be able to accommodate a much larger number of students, because they would need additional clinical sites to accommodate all those students, and the sites just aren't available.)
  7. by   WestCoastSunRN
    Quote from BostonFNP
    Nothing is a good investment until you decide what you want to do, you are just throwing money at a wall and hoping it sticks. Hold off until you have a fairly good idea. Think about a lifelong career not just the next step.

    I will say I am not sure what benefit a MSN in Ed would be for you. If you want to consider a faculty/academic role then you really should be thinking about a PhD as most employers will be looking for a terminal degree.
    Well, like you said, it depends on what he really wants to do. An MSN Ed is certainly going to open doors in institutional education (hospital or university) that are not currently open to him right now. Personally I like the idea of starting with a masters and bridging into a terminal degree from there because it gives you more time to evaluate what specific direction you want to go in before you pull the trigger on that terminal degree. For example he can get the MSN Ed (vastly cheaper and less time/commitment than MSN FNP) and then get a DNP FNP if he decides he wants to be a provider later (but it doesn't sound like he's got much passion for being a provider). Or he can go on for his PhD -- which, yeah, he'll need if he wants a tenured faculty position somewhere.

    I recommend making a five year plan. What do you want to be doing in five years?
  8. by   Wonky215
    Thank you everyone for your comments. I have heard that there is a faculty shortage, but I suspect this will self-correct as the nursing surplus and APRN surplus become apparent. I do like the idea of being a professor though. My thoughts were more towards hospital education. I also agree that ideally one should pursue what they are interested in and then deal with the challenges. In terms of a five year plan, I am not sure where I'd like to be in five years, other than out of bedside nursing... I definitely lean towards education, I would just like to know that there are actually opportunities to use this qualification once earned...
  9. by   BostonFNP
    Quote from Wonky215
    Thank you everyone for your comments. I have heard that there is a faculty shortage, but I suspect this will self-correct as the nursing surplus and APRN surplus become apparent. I do like the idea of being a professor though. My thoughts were more towards hospital education. I also agree that ideally one should pursue what they are interested in and then deal with the challenges. In terms of a five year plan, I am not sure where I'd like to be in five years, other than out of bedside nursing... I definitely lean towards education, I would just like to know that there are actually opportunities to use this qualification once earned...
    Have you thought about other RN roles that aren't traditional bedside roles?
  10. by   PICCRN79
    I am very much with you on so much of what you have said!! I am getting my MSN, I am certain of that. I have been a nurse for 15 years and have been in the infusion or vascular access specialty. My version of "bedside nursing" differs from your own as my interactions are brief and are, for the most part, pleasant. That does not mean though that I am not tired of my version of bed side nursing.
    I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do. Maybe education, maybe leadership, maybe become a clinical or pharm rep. My strong pull is toward education (hospital or clinical device rep, being a professor does not interest me), however, I will not be getting my MSN Ed. To me, it seems so restrictive. As LilyRN99 said an NP can teach, but an MSN Ed cannot be an NP. As I mentioned I have no desire to see patients, in any aspect of my work frankly, so I have decided to pursue a CNS. I live in a state in which the lines between CNS and NP are a little blurry and can get prescriptive authority if I so desired (which I don't). The CNS has such a broad spectrum of possiblities, from education to leadership to infection prevention and the list goes on. With the CNS, you can be almost any type of nurse you want. I interviewed a number of MSN prepared nurses that I work with and truly value their opinions. I spoke with a CNS, MSN Ed, NP and MSN in leadership, I asked them questions about what they love and hate, what drives them everyday and if they were in my position and could do it again, what would they do?
    Their incite was helpful in my decision making. Good luck to you!

close