What Does the Future Hold for the MSN Degree?

What Does the Future Hold for the MSN Degree?

You’ve certainly heard before that the BSN is becoming the minimum for all nurses. Ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) put forth a bold call to action: for 80% of practicing nurses to have a BSN by the year 2020.

Major progress has been made, and we expect an update from the National Academy of Medicine. But while the BSN is indeed becoming the norm to enter the nursing profession, the MSN is becoming the norm to progress in it.

The MSN is One of the National Academy of Medicine’s Recommended Degrees to Master Advanced Practice

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action has several goals, including to transform nursing education. In fact, the campaign promotes five education models to help nurses advance in their careers and obtain advanced academic degrees. It is clear that the MSN is one of the degrees that enables nurses to understand healthcare policy, make critical decisions, master advanced technology and support better patient care.

Strong Job Outlook for Advanced Practice Nurses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners is 26% from 2018 to 2028, and typical entry-level education for these jobs is a master’s degree.

BLS also reports that medical, dental and nursing is one of six career fields in which the most openings for graduate-level occupations, with nurse practitioners having the largest number of projected openings. And healthcare as an industry is growing. The BLS Employment Projections 2018-2028 released in fall 2019 reports that:

  • Healthcare is one of a few sectors projected to experience the fastest annual employment growth.
  • Of the 30 fastest growing occupations, 18 are in healthcare and related occupations.
  • Increased demand for healthcare services from an aging population and people with chronic conditions will drive much of this growth.

Nurses with Advanced Degrees Have Better Earning Potential

The data shows that the MSN is not only popular, but boosts nurses’ earning potential:

  • The master’s degree has a wage premium over the bachelor’s degree—a difference in annual wage of $63,000 (BSN) and $75,000 (MSN).
  • The median annual wages of bachelor’s degree-educated workers in nursing was $66,000 according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce 2015 publication, “The Economic Value of College Majors.” That wage increased to $88,000 for graduate-degree holders.

What Does the Future of Nursing Look Like in the Next Decade?

In 2019, the National Academy of Medicine announced its plans to do new research on nursing’s role in improving our nation’s health. The study will also dig into how to advance the profession to improve the health of the U.S. population, create a culture of health and more.

As the Academy endeavors to extend the vision of The Future of Nursing report of 2009 and chart a path for the nursing profession going forward, the topic of education and training of nurses is certain to arise. The education recommendations for the field of nursing might very well include an MSN for all advanced practice nurses, as it is clear that there are many opportunities for these nurses to fulfill an important role in healthcare going forward. In short, the MSN’s future is bright, just like the future of nursing as a profession.


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