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The Value of a Master’s-Prepared Nurse


Although both the BSN and MSN are important, students who pursue a Master’s degree in nursing are going to be more qualified for specific jobs (such as a nursing educator, an information technology specialist in nursing, a nurse administrator, a nurse leader, etc.). The preparation for the Master’s degree requires more time and effort but is likely to help the student have a good position with a higher salary compared to jobs that require a BSN degree in nursing.

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MSN and BSN: Differences

There are individual differences between masters prepared and baccalaureate-prepared nurses. For example, an MSN will allow a nurse to become a nurse educator or nurse leader, whereas BSN does not provide this opportunity. Nurses with a BSN degree mostly work with patients directly, for example, in clinical settings and hospitals. To become a nursing leader or a graduate with a focus on public health, a Master’s degree is necessary (AACN, 2011). It should also be noted that specific Master’s essentials (such as “Translational Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice”) ensure that the nurse is qualified to manage and lead research projects. Nurses with a BSN degree cannot become managers of nursing research as they would not be qualified for this.

A particular focus on leadership is also what needs to be emphasized. While a BSN degree mostly focuses on providing direct care to patients, a Master’s degree in nursing aims to prepare the student to provide quality-decision making that will also take cultural specifics and diversity into consideration. Furthermore, Master’s students also learn to understand the healthcare system, it’s budgeting, and processes. This preparation for a leadership role also implies that the student understands how workplace conflicts can be mitigated and resolved (AACN, 2011).

A significant difference is also that BSN nurses cannot become patient safety directors or managers because this qualification is achieved through a Master’s degree. The same applies to nurse informatics, which is an essential qualification for those who want to work in data management and information workflow in healthcare (Chamberlain College of Nursing, 2016). Master’s graduates are expected to understand how they can integrate knowledge, ethics, leadership, and specialized knowledge they received into their clinical practice to provide quality care (AACN, 2011).

An important aspect that also needs to be considered is the influence of a Master’s degree on the qualification, quality of care, and confidence of a nurse. Cotterill-Walker (2012) found in her study that students with a Master’s degree in nursing reported the positive influence of this degree on their confidence and self-esteem. Furthermore, these students also had the opportunity to improve their practice by applying the knowledge they had to practice. Aiken et al. (2015) found that nurse’s education level directly affects patient mortality and the chance of medical errors; the more nurses with a degree worked in a facility, the lower the mortality rates were in this clinical setting.

As can be seen, with the rising demand for education and qualified nurses, either BSN or MSN becomes a must for all nurses who want to provide quality care. In professional practice, a degree in nursing will help the professional have a correct judgment of situations and events, choose evidence-based practices, and work with diverse populations, providing equally qualified care to everyone.


Master’s prepared nurses can work directly or indirectly with the patients, become educators or leaders, researchers of specialists in patient safety. The need for Master’s prepared nurses is growing as the population of the USA continues to age. This qualification is essential to healthcare not only because it meets the needs of patients but also because it ensures nurses provide ethical and professional care.

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AACN. (2011). The essentials of Master’s education in nursing. Web.

Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Bruyneel, L., Van den Heede, K., Griffiths, P., Busse, R.,… McHugh, M. D. (2014). Nurse staffing and education and hospital mortality in nine European countries: A retrospective observational study. The Lancet, 383(9931), 1824-1830.

Chamberlain College of Nursing. (2016). Chamberlain college of nursing masters of science in nursing conceptual framework. Web.

Cotterill-Walker, S. M. (2012). Where is the evidence that master’s level nursing education makes a difference to patient care? A literature review. Nurse Education Today, 32(1), 57-64.

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