Lifelong Learning and Achieving Higher Levels of Education

The demand for nurses in the job market increases, and these professionals take on more patient care responsibilities than before. Modern-day nurses can be in charge of diagnosing and treating a condition and educating individuals or communities about health. The IOM Future of Nursing Report focuses on developing and ways of enhancing nursing practice and education. This paper will review some options for nurses’ employment and education based on the IOM Future of Nursing Report.

The options on the job market for a registered nurse (RN) include a range of healthcare settings. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2021), RNs “work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities” (para. 2). Additionally, they can work in schools or outpatient clinics, or other settings where they can promote community health and educate patients about their illnesses. An RN’s primary responsibility in any of these settings is assessing patient’s symptoms, reviewing disease history, administering medication, and observing the individuals. The most accessible option for an RN is to work in a nursing care facility or a clinic.

The IOM Future of Nursing report’s recommendations for achieving higher levels of education are helpful for nurses. For example, the authors of this report argue that nurses should “achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression” (Institute of Medicine et al., 2011, p. 1). Personally, I want to pursue an MSN degree in the future because I want to build a career as a professional nurse.

Since I perceive nursing as my calling, I want to gain as much competence in this field as I can. It is possible that after I achieve an MSN degree, I will choose to pursue a doctorate degree in nursing since this will allow me to focus on research and the scientific aspect of nursing. The main reason for wanting to pursue an MSN degree is the desire to help patients and improve the healthcare system. An MSN nurse can be assigned to administrative positions, where I could address some pressing problems of patient care. Hence, as advised in the IOM Future of Nursing document, I plan on advancing my education and gaining an MSN degree.

The timeline for accomplishing the MSN degree goal is approximately three years. A nurse who has an RN license will have to dedicate up to three years in training to obtain an MSN degree (“What is an MSN Degree,” 2020). However, there are accelerated programs that require 1 or 2 years. In my case, I would pursue the non-accelerated path because I would prefer to combine work and studies. Hence, the timeline for achieving an MSN degree, in my case, is three years.

Achieving a higher level of education provides an obvious benefit when competing in the job market. A higher education degree means that a professional has completed additional training and has more knowledge and skills when compared to nurses with a Bachelor’s degree. Moreover, an MSN nurse is prepared to take on leadership roles in an organization because most programs include training in business skills and management. My role in the future of nursing would be affected since I would be able to work in hospital administration. From a career development perspective, this would be a great opportunity to take a role with more responsibilities. Another benefit of an MSN degree is the ability to choose between working with patients directly and having an administrative role. Hence, achieving a higher degree of education would provide me with more options and opportunities.

Continuing nursing education increases the competencies and skills of nurses.

Moreover, their attitudes and knowledge are enhanced as well, since, for example, individuals with a doctorate degree are trained to conduct research studies. Hence, they have advanced skills and are responsible for the improvement of evidence-based nursing. According to ANA Scope and Standards for Practice, “the profession exists to achieve the most positive patient outcomes in keeping with nursing’s social contract and obligation to society” (ANA, n.d., para. 3). Hence, it is an obligation of a nurse to work towards improving the health of the population, for example, by educating individuals about positive lifestyle practices or disease management approaches.

One of the factors that allow to promote the health of the population and be patient advocates is education. The advancement of knowledge and skills allows nurses to use up-to-date, evidence-based practices in their work. Moreover, as nurses continue their education, they gain the skills and competencies that allow them to conduct scientific research themselves. This is important because only nurses are fully aware of the specifics and details of their day-to-day practice and interactions with patients, making them the qualified professionals who can work on improving their practice. Hence, the advancement of nursing competency, attitudes, knowledge helps these professionals practice to the extent of their capabilities.

Moreover, one of the nursing principles is selecting the best intervention possible. The ANA’s Code of Ethics requires nurses to practice nonmaleficence, which is the principle of not causing harm and choosing the best intervention out of potential options (Gaines, 2020). With advanced education, nurses gain more competency and, therefore, can assist their patients better. From this perspective, continuing nursing education should be mandatory. However, I do not think that continuing nursing education should be compulsory because it requires a severe input of time and effort from an individual.

Pursuing further education should be a person’s own desire, but the nurse should participate in activities that help them improve as professionals. There should be, however, a distinction between the job responsibilities and salary levels of individuals with various degrees. Hence, nurses that completed less training should be working under the supervision of those with advanced degrees. However, I think that regardless of a degree, each nurse has to continue improving their knowledge and skills. For example, they can read professional journals and participate in additional training. In this way, these nurses can stay up to date with the recent scientific findings and best practices without having to invest time and financials to a degree.

Overall, this paper discusses the IOM Future of Nursing report and the benefits of higher levels of education for a nurse. In the future, I plan on pursuing MSN and DNP degrees to fulfill my vision of an ideal nursing career. I do not think that all nurses have to earn advanced degrees. Instead, they can read specific journals and participate in training activities that help them stay up to date with the recent findings and practice to the full extent of their capabilities.


American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Scope of practice. Web.

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. NCBI. Web.

Gaines, K. (2020). What is the nursing code of ethics? Nurse. Web.

US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. (2021). Registered nurses. Web.

What is an MSN degree and should you study a master’s in nursing in 2021? (2020). Web.

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NursingBird. "Lifelong Learning and Achieving Higher Levels of Education." August 18, 2022.