The Future of Nursing Leadership: Choosing the Right Graduate Degree

As many are aware, the nursing field is currently experiencing a significant shortage of qualified professionals. Sadly, experts estimate that this problem will worsen over the coming decades, leaving the healthcare field in poor shape and many patients without the robust healthcare service they deserve.

Fortunately, many are hopeful that nurse leaders will spearhead solutions to solve these problems and find innovative ways to improve medical care for scores of patients. As a result, many aspiring nurses and veteran nurses are searching for ways to secure leadership positions for themselves in the modern age. However, this can sometimes be a confusing and tricky process.

In particular, many aspiring nurse leaders aren’t exactly sure which advanced nursing degree program can help them reach their leadership goals. Fortunately, gaining some insight into various advanced degrees can make the process easier and more approachable.

Here’s a guide to choosing the right nursing graduate degree.

Having Clear Nursing Career Goals

Before surveying the many advanced degree options that nurses have available to them, it’s imperative to have clearly defined career goals. This will narrow the criteria for degree programs and make the decision-making process far easier to engage in.

To begin this process, it’s important to understand which nursing leadership role one aspires to. This can be anything from a nurse educator to a nurse practitioner. Having this key piece of information in mind, it will be easier to chart a course for nurse leadership success.

If one isn’t quite sure which role is for them, it can be incredibly helpful to network with other professionals and pick their brains. Those in various nursing leadership roles can provide insights into their roles, the duties they perform, and the educational requirements to get to where they are.

Ultimately, each aspiring nurse leader will have a different educational journey which depends on their unique career goals and aspirations.

Understanding One’s Learning Style

Beyond knowing which type of degree one wants to pursue, it’s also vital to understand what type of program one wants to pursue. In other words, there are a wide variety of different types of programs that each have different benefits for different types of learners.

One program distinction is between in-person programs and remote ones. Those who see themselves as self-starters may thrive in remote online nursing programs while those who like structure may fare better in an in-person program.

In addition to in-person and remote programs, there are also traditionally scheduled and accelerated programs. Essentially, accelerated programs are shorter in duration but require more schoolwork to be completed in this short amount of time.

Ultimately, understanding which of these programs suits one’s temperament and learning style will make it easier to make a final decision.

Different Graduate Degrees in the Nursing Field

After defining one’s career goals and becoming familiar with one’s learning style, it’s time to explore various degree options. Given the fact that nursing is a broad field, there is a vast array of graduate degrees and programs one can choose from. Understanding some of these degrees will simplify one’s decision-making process at this stage.

Here are different graduate degrees in the nursing field.

Master of Science in Nursing

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees are impressive educational achievements that qualify one for a variety of nursing leadership roles. In addition, this degree conveys to employers that one has specialized knowledge and is capable of leading others in a variety of medical and administrative settings.

However, when it comes to obtaining this degree, there are many different specialties that one can decide to pursue. These specialties include:

These are but a few of the many specializations one can pursue in an MSN program in the modern age. In addition, nursing education has become more accessible than it ever has been before with a wide variety of institutions now offering remote online programs.

Ultimately, an MSN degree can qualify one for a wide variety of nurse leadership roles. As such, this is a great educational option for any nurse looking to advance their practice and lead others on a regular basis.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

A Doctor of Nursing practice (DNP) degree is an impressive educational accomplishment that can qualify nurses for a wide variety of nurse leadership roles. Beyond being a terminal degree, this degree is also a huge accolade that signals to employers that one is a highly skilled professional in their field.

Much like MSN degrees, there are many different specializations one can pursue when obtaining a DNP degree. Some of these specializations include:

  • Nurse leadership
  • Pediatrics
  • Family care
  • Women’s health
  • Mental health
  • Nurse education

For those intent on pursuing careers as nurse practitioners, pursuing a DNP degree is an amazing option that can open many different doors. In addition, those intent on stepping into administrative positions can also significantly bolster their chances of landing an amazing role by obtaining this impressive terminal degree.

There Are Many Degree Options for Aspiring Nurse Leaders

Nurse leaders play an increasingly vital role in the American healthcare system. From providing primary care to patients as nurse practitioners to advocating for patients from marginalized backgrounds as public health officials, nurse leaders help ensure the good health of the public at large.

Those interested in stepping into these admirable professional roles can achieve their goals by pursuing advanced nursing degrees.