One could say that a higher level of education opens new career paths and that continuous education is the key to success. Nowadays, many job positions require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum or a higher degree, depending on the job complexity. Although nursing seemed to have avoided the trend for some time, it is also changing and promoting better qualifications. The innovations in nursing aim to ensure better service provided by nurses and, while it may seem reasonable, it may put extra pressure on registered nurses who need to enhance their education. This essay will address the position of a registered nurse in the market, discuss an RN’s options for continuing education, and what continuing nursing education can offer.
My current educational level is that of a registered nurse (RN), and while that is a valid qualification, I begin to notice that job offers prefer a Bachelor’s degree. I feel like it limits my options, considering that most vacancies require several years’ worth of experience in addition to a certain degree. It means that I can take a job for which is an RN is sufficient and gain some experience there, but it would mean losing time that could be spent on studying for a higher degree. Also, if I am dissatisfied with my job, leaving it will probably put me at a disadvantage, as I will not gain anything that would benefit me in seeking a new job. According to Buerhaus et al. (2017), I would also be paid less than nurses with higher degrees, which correlates with my personal experience of searching for a job. Overall, there is enough room for registered nurses in the job market, but being without a higher degree feels limiting.
An RN wishing to improve her qualification may wonder where to begin and how long it will take. The Institute of Medicine reports some perspective on which education paths are available for registered nurses with the number of years provided for each case. As I am currently aiming for a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing (BSN), it will require two years to finish the course, as I have already obtained an RN diploma. The BSN degree will allow me to conduct research in the field and apply its results to my work and give me more job opportunities (Shern et al., 2016). After receiving my BSN degree, I plan to continue studying for a Master’s Degree (MSN), which will take two additional years. The MSN degree will expand my scope of work, making it possible for me to become a clinical nurse leader or an administrator (Shern et al., 2016). In general, my continuing education will last approximately four years, which is, perhaps, not such a long time, considering the benefits it can give me.
As already stated, my current educational level limits my potential scope of work. Increasing my education level to that of a Bachelor’s would positively impact my competitiveness, as I will be able to consider those positions in the market that have a BSN as the minimum requirement. Those job positions that require RNs but put BSN holders as a preferred choice will also be advantageous for me, although I might be competing against other BSN holders. My ultimate goal, MSN, will make most nursing positions attainable for me, especially those that will allow me to be a nurse leader. By being one, I will be able to improve the quality of service provided by my nursing unit; I will also focus on the working conditions of nurses and assist them in pursuing additional education. Overall, my competitiveness will significantly increase with higher education levels, and I want to use my future position to help those in a similar situation as I am now.
To some degree, acquiring a new level of education tends to impact one’s competency and knowledge, sometimes affecting one’s attitude towards the future job. Although being a working registered nurse might seem sufficient, it is education that allows one to compare practice with theory and understand one’s advancements and drawbacks. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA, 2015), higher levels of education also expand an RN’s competencies, especially those that are concerned with leadership. Another instance of expanding competencies in evidence-based practice and research, which is expected from all RNs, but having a BSN improves one’s performance in the field considerably (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2015). As for how continuing nursing education influences one’s understanding of the Code of Ethics, it may serve as a guideline to solve ethical dilemmas and highlight the most common issues related to the Code implementation. An experienced RN might have encountered and tackled those on their own, but learning about such situations, perhaps, parallel to working, might be helpful for a starting nurse. Altogether, continuing higher education expands one’s competencies and knowledge while addressing complicated issues that arise in the profession.
Although continuing nursing education might put extra pressure on me, I believe it is a better alternative than remaining just a registered nurse, and it, perhaps, should be mandatory. First of all, additional education increases mobility and makes more job opportunities available, while providing patients improved services and potentially more favorable outcomes, which is of utmost importance to healthcare workers (Hicks & Patterson, 2017). Making continuing nursing education mandatory will also remove the existing disparity within the nursing community, as RNs with an associate degree earn less than those that have bachelor’s and master’s degrees (Buerhaus et al., 2017). Simultaneously, education has to be affordable to those registered nurses and organize courses in a way that will allow them to study and work at the same time to earn or maintain the experience. Overall, I support making continuing nursing education mandatory, but it should consider the challenges that RNs without higher degrees may face.
In conclusion, I think that pursuing additional nursing education is important for a career in nursing generally and my career, particularly. Even without the benefits that a higher level of education provides, it should be obvious that in the current age, constant education is a way to survive. However, for someone who aims to be a leader in nursing, the implications of having a higher degree serve as major motivators that will help me proceed with the studying years. Salary might be an important factor that cannot be removed from the overall picture, as the question of job opportunities inevitably leads to it. Still, it is the ability to gain new knowledge and the promise of being a better professional that appears to be a bigger priority for me as of now. The wish to help people draws future professionals to nursing, sustains them in the profession, and motivates them to improve for their own sake and the sake of their patients.
American Nurses Association. (2015). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice. Author.
Buerhaus, P. I., Skinner, L. E., & Auerbach, D. I. (2017). State of the registered nurse workforce as a new era of health reform emerges. Nursing Economics, 35(5), 229-237. Web.
Hicks, R. W., & Patterson, R. (2017). Navigating nursing education. AORN Journal, 106(6), 523–533. Web.
Shern, L., Butler, A. S., & Altman, S. H. (Eds.). (2016). Assessing Progress on the Institute of Medicine reports the future of nursing. National Academies Press.