Nurses are multitasking. It is a skill used all day, every day. We are constantly evaluating, diagnosing, planning, implementing and evaluating outcomes on those in our care with every interaction. We watch, listen, comfort, anticipate and intervene with skills that make a difference in life.
How did this finely sharpened intuition come about? Education, experience and time.
Yet with all that nurses do, we cannot stop learning and leading. There comes a time when we as nurses need to do more. It takes the form of higher education and lifelong learning.
Why should a nurse take a higher degree? I can list the obvious reasons: job opportunities, leadership roles, filling a need, higher salaries, more skills, teaching / mentoring, research, better hours, becoming an expert in the field and personal growth. But let me tell you the real reasons nurses do more.
A bedside nursing assistant wants to advocate for the patients she cares for. She decides to go back for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing to move on and be the voice that can’t speak. A baccalaureate-prepared nurse decides she wants to use her experience and follow the path of a master’s degree in nursing in leadership or administration to influence public policy or lead health systems and be the voice of a group of nurses. ‘nurses.
A nurse who has always been the preceptor or student mentor decides that she wants to do her master’s degree in nursing to become the trainer of a new generation of nurses. A nurse wants to get her doctorate in nursing because she knows there is a method to research and expand the results of evidence-based practice in order to educate the public.
Obtaining the next level of nursing education can be as easy as taking online courses. RN-BSN and MSN degrees are offered online. This method provides the flexibility and convenience that working nurses need throughout their educational journey.
Regardless of how a nurse chooses to advance her education, the need is urgent. Nurses have an implicit contract with society to be their spokesperson and voice. This is why nursing is one of the most trusted professions.
Nurses have a social obligation to teach and educate our patients / clients and the community, and to advance the profession. Every nurse should ask themselves: what impact can I have with a graduate degree?
Sharon Willey, IA, DNP, is Director of Nursing at Trine University.