Nurses are the glue that holds hospitals and medical institutions together, taking on the bulk of the practical work on the front lines, making critical treatment decisions and providing the human touch patients need in their times of crisis. However, there is an important place for nurses as leaders and innovators at the management level. Baylor’s 100% online Master of Science in Nursing Leadership (MSN) degree program is intended to help experienced RNs with BSN degrees upgrade their education in a leadership and innovation program, in order to bring their unique perspective to the decision-making table.
Pursuing an MSN degree online means nurses are able to complete their studies while continuing to earn salary and add to their years of on-the-job experience. A successful nursing administrator must, after all, have a strong understanding of the practicalities of the profession in order to lead effectively. By turning to online courses, students are able to watch lectures and do readings when their own work/life schedule permits—even when their sleep cycle is turned upside-down by a spell of night shifts.
Let’s take a look at the roles an MSN with a leadership or administrative focus can prepares you for.
Per research reported on Payscale.com, MSN nursing degree holders earn between $18,000 and $38,000 more per year than RNs without a graduate degree.[i] This gap can largely be attributed to three factors:
- RNs with more advanced degrees tend to have an easier time earning promotion within their own organizations.
- RNs with more advanced degrees tend to be hired or headhunted more frequently for high salary jobs.
- Graduates of online MSN programs have more career paths available to them.
Per NurseJournal.org, some of the most frequent destinations for MSNs include nurse consulting, nurse administration and nursing research.[ii]
As AmericanNurseToday.com, the official journal of the American Nurses Association, notes, “Specific education in management helps prepare you to handle the legal, fiscal, planning, direction, and control function.”[iii] Although the senior nursing position on staff was traditionally known simply as the head nurse, in today’s facilities they usually carry the title Director of Care (DoC). DoC has a more executive ring to it, largely because administrators recognize the centrality of nurses as decision-makers independent of physicians. ‘Care’ in this sense refers to ensuring the maintenance, comfort and monitoring of patients, which in practice occupies just as central a role as the diagnostic and interventional functions of doctors.
A Director of Care’s authority goes beyond the nurses on staff. The DoC also manages pharmacists, support staff, social workers, technicians and other professionals who are involved in the hospital ecosystem. They are expected to have leadership and personnel management expertise in order to align the goals of care with the day to day economies of directing a sophisticated organization. An MSN Leadership Nursing degree also prepares you for positions such as Nurse Supervisor in a hospital or Home Health Manager in a hospice or in-home healthcare environment.
Academic Innovation, Outsourced Expertise
Nursing as an academic discipline has a long and respected tradition. As the technology and technique of medicine has become more and more advanced, so too has increased the need for nursing study and research.
Many MSN nursing degree holders have made great contributions as researchers and external consultants. In academia, nurses have helped to develop innovative approaches to disease prevention and health promotion that have vastly improved the safety of hospitals. They work closely with experts in related disciplines such as medicine and public health on groundbreaking studies.
Meanwhile, consultants play an important role as an external source of expertise for medical facilities looking to improve their policies and insulate themselves from legal risk. Nurse consultants guide administrators and even offer training to front line staff on the latest approaches to care, while helping to identify problems and inefficiencies through audits and observation.
Leading by Example
Although graduates are less likely to be involved with the day to day demands of patient care than BSNs, they remain close to the beating heart of keeping this country’s health care system thriving. Following the motto “Learn. Lead. Serve.”, the Baylor Nurse leads by example as a critical thinker regarding patient care, nursing theory, and what it means to be a leader in the modern healthcare environment. If you’re ready to take on the responsibility, contact us and make your first step a look at Baylor’s program brochure.
[i] Qtd. in BU program brochure, page 6.