Want a Lasting Career as a Nurse? Consider an MSN as the Best Path Forward

Kristen L. Mauk, PhD, DNP, RN, CRRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, FARN, FAAN, Professor of Nursing and Graduate Program Director

In my long tenure of 39 years as a registered nurse, I remember obtaining my Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree as one of the most important stepping stones in my career. The graduate study opened my mind to thinking beyond bedside nursing to a broader view of healthcare and how I personally could use my skills and knowledge to improve patient care as well as to advance the art and science of nursing. Educated in a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) program for my MSN, I was motivated to further my education forever after that. There were limitless possibilities for working in the CNS role as a leader in an organization, as a consultant, an expert clinician, and in academe, all of which I took advantage of.

What can an MSN do for you?

The discipline of nursing has held the belief for many years that the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree should be the entry-level into practice. In recent years, we have moved much closer to this goal. More often, organizations are looking at the BSN as minimal preparation, while leadership and teaching positions prefer those prepared with the MSN or higher. 

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) validated my own personal experience when it stated:

“Master’s education prepares nurses for flexible leadership and critical action within the complex, changing systems, including health, educational, and organizational systems. Master’s education equips nurses with valuable knowledge and skills to lead change, promote health, and elevate care in various roles and settings” (AACN, 2011, p. 3).

If you are looking for a rewarding career, not just a job, consider advancing your education through graduate study.

Obtaining an MSN offers numerous benefits

Enhance your knowledge and clinical skills

There are many paths or tracks within an MSN including the CNS, nurse practitioner (NP)(although many NP programs have moved to the doctoral level), nurse educator in staff or professional development or academic settings, and administration. It is always best to talk to the graduate program director when deciding which program to attend and which track fits best with your long-term career goals.

Expand your options for a fulfilling career

Career opportunities will open up including teaching and leadership roles. Most states mandate a minimum of an MSN to be in a teaching position. The MSN program at CCU prepares students for a variety of positions. Our graduates have held leadership roles in many areas after graduation, including in large hospital systems, schools, universities, and healthcare organizations.

Smoothly transition to a doctoral program

CCU offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Visionary Leadership for those who already have an MSN. For those who are interested in becoming a nurse scientist, the MSN prepares them for the Ph.D. or research-focused doctorate.

Earn higher wages and work better hours

Salaries for those with MSN, whether in a CNS, NP, or educator role are increasing. The work schedule is often more flexible and rewarding, allowing the nurse to collaborate with intra and interprofessional teams to promote health on a broader scale.

The AACN summarized, “For some nurses, master’s education equips them with a fulfilling lifetime expression of their mastery area. For others, this core is a graduate foundation for doctoral education. Each preparation is valued.” (2011, p. 3).

So, whether you are interested in upward career mobility, more job options, providing increased influence in the healthcare setting, or even policy or politics, the MSN is the place to begin. The MSN at CCU offers an excellent and rigorous program with two tracks: Education and Clinical Care Management in Adult and Geriatrics (the CNS role) which can be completed in less than two years of full-time study. All courses are taught from a Biblical worldview to prepare the nation’s next nursing leaders.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing. Washington, DC: Author.


Colorado Christian University does not guarantee any job placement as a result of earning this or any other degrees offered by the university.

Want a lasting career as a nurse? Take a look at CCU’s MSN program!

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