A New Study Asks “What Inspires Nurses to Go Back to School?”

What exactly is it that inspires nurses to go back to school? A new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation attempts to answer this question by identifying the motivational factors as well as the barriers that come into play when nurses contemplate advancing their education. The researchers found that RNs working to attain a BSN seem to be inspired by personal growth as well as professional development, even as they acknowledge how challenging it can be to strike a satisfying work-life balance. In this series, we’ll take a look at the powerful motivators that inspire nurses to get a BSN or MSN – some of them obvious and some a bit more surprising.

Inspirational Factor #1: Career & Professional Advancement

Career advancementAmerican Sentinel’s health care blog recently told the story of Donna Dvorak, an accomplished nurse who decided in middle-age that she was ready for a change. Keenly interested in the exciting field of clinical research, Donna was all set to advance her career , when she discovered her work experience alone wasn’t enough. She’d have to earn a bachelor of science in nursing to be considered for her dream job – which she did, through American Sentinel’s online RN-to-BSN program.

For nurses who desire to transform their careers, move up the ladder, or take on new responsibilities, earning a BSN degree is an essential first step. If you’ve noticed that more job ads are saying “BSN preferred,” you already know that credentials matter to employers. Earning a BSN can ensure that you have options and that all doors are open to you, particularly if you want to work in a specialty unit like obstetrics or the ICU. It shows prospective employers that you are serious about making nursing a career, rather than just a job, and it gives you a better chance of obtaining job promotions that come with higher salaries and more rewarding opportunities.

The good news about working toward a BSN is this: you’ll see the difference right away when you begin taking classes. The experiences provided by American Sentinel’s online RN-to-BSN program are designed to support your professional development based on real-world nursing in today’s health care environment. This means you’ll immediately be able to apply newly gained knowledge to your current job in a way your employer will notice. What better way to maintain your competitive edge?

Going Beyond the BSN

For ambitious nurses interested in moving into management, an MSN degree is a necessity. Consider this: many RNs receive no training in leadership skills during their basic nursing education program. (In contrast, leadership principles are routinely taught in business schools and other types of programs. In its landmark report, “The Future of Nursing,” the IOM states:

To be effective leaders and full partners, nurses now need a new set of competencies that includes knowledge of process improvements, patient safety, ethics, cost management, policy making, care delivery models, translating research into practice, etc. Nurses must begin to see themselves as full partners, and they must be educated accordingly.

Higher education can also be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like case management, informatics, or infection control. These areas require strategizing, collaborative relationships, and a multi-dimensional approach to tackling a problem like preventing unnecessary hospital readmissions or discovering the source of an infection outbreak). Critical thinking forms the foundation of these specialties – and it’s the essential skill you’ll gain from an online nursing degree program.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has also stressed the importance of nurses having more educational parity with other members of the health care team. Employers care about your education level more than you might realize because of this issue of parity. They want their nursing leaders to have more equality with other health care professionals – physicians, pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists, etc. – that are educated at the graduate and post-graduate level.

In this way, advancing your nursing education helps you to stay relevant in health care. You will be more equipped with advanced skills and knowledge, allowing you to stand out as a respected member of a multi-disciplinary team and as a capable leader.

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