Nursing experience is crucial to developing the action-oriented, patient-centered critical thinking skills needed to thrive in this profession. Nursing requires very specific competencies on top of having the right attitude, patience and compassion since this is a career that is centered on direct interactions with patients, peers and other healthcare providers. There may be different pathways to build a career as a nurse, but one of the better strategies is to follow the progressive path by starting with an associate’s degree then earning an RN (registered nurse) credentials. The next step would be completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing followed by a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Reasons for the Progressive Academic Track

When the occupation is concerned with human interactions that may deal with health, wellness and life-and-death issues, it is important that workers involved in this environment are specifically qualified for their roles. Entry level nurses are trained in the basics of patient care, including grooming, moving and communicating instructions. More qualified nurses will take charge of more advanced tasks such as dispensing medication and the care and handling of medical devices such as catheters and feeding tubes. With more training and credentials, nurses may qualify for work in intensive care and other advanced care units in healthcare facilities. Clearly, nurses are given a load of responsibilities in the normal course of their work. These responsibilities require very specific training to gain the experience and confidence needed to perform these tasks. The progressive nature of acquiring these critical skills builds on strengths and knowledge learned in earlier training.

Job Expectations with an MSN Degree

For nurses who are committed to their career, a master’s degree in nursing may help to distinguish oneself from the pool of available talent. Completing a Master’s of Science in Nursing demonstrates a commitment to the field as well as a high level of competence and leadership potential. For this reason, an MSN degree is usually required for nurses who aspire to executive positions in the healthcare system.

It can be argued that at the executive level, it is less likely that nurses will be involved in direct patient care. Nurses in executive positions will be expected to make management and personnel decisions, establish and advocate for certain practices and policies as well as interface with other managers and executives.

Value of Having an MSN Degree

Similar to other professions, nurses with advanced degrees tend to be paid at a higher scale also. According to, the average annual salary of nurses with a master’s degree is $92,000 while registered nurses or RNs earn an average of $72,000 per year. It must be noted that the difference in pay is largely due to advanced practice nurses being placed in positions that have more advanced responsibilities. These nurses may have a master’s degree and should have completed the training and credentialing for nurse practitioners in a specific field of expertise.

Related Resource: Top 50 Affordable RN to MSN Online Programs

Value of Nursing Experience

The nursing profession relies on having qualified staff to handle jobs that range from routine to medically complicated tasks. The level of competency of each nurse is honed through book learning and hands-on experience. It is possible for aspiring nurses to enroll directly in a bachelor’s degree program, but the practicum, internship and time spent as direct-care practice nurses are key components to complete the degree.

For those who are considering a master’s degree in nursing, it is advisable to spend a few years accumulating experience because this type of exposure lays the groundwork for understanding advanced concepts in nursing care. Nursing experience in various healthcare facilities and in different positions in the healthcare sector develops the leadership mindset that is crucial in improving nursing management practices.