Could a Nursing Masters Degree Transform Your Career?

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Karyn Buxman

Karyn Buxman calls the result of getting her master`s degree in nursing "life transforming." After completing a master`s thesis on the topic of humor, health, and communication, she became a nurse entrepreneur, speaker, author, and world-recognized expert in the field of applied and therapeutic humor.

As if that weren`t impressive enough, Karyn also publishes the Journal of Nursing Jocularity, a humor magazine for nurses, and is heavily involved with two international organizations, the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (www.aath.org), and the World Laughter Tour (www.worldlaughtertour.com). "I have written books, published articles (AJN, AORN, AACN, etc), and spoken around the world," she says. Her personal website is at www.karynbuxman.com.

Nurses like Karyn Buxman may seem so successful that you wonder if they would have accomplished the same great things regardless of their level of education. Buxman, however, definitely gives credit to her degree. "None of this would have ever been possible had it not been for getting my master`s in nursing," she says.

Create Your Own Future

Don`t think that you have to be a budding entrepreneur or have a crystal-clear long-term vision before you go after your nursing master`s degree. Sometimes opportunities appear that you didn`t even know existed. Pursuing your master`s degree can actually help you solidify your goals, as you`ll cross paths with teachers, staff and students who inspire and inform you. For example, one male nurse currently enrolled in Loyola University`s online RN-to-MSN Bridge program says, "My master`s degree is helping me understand the kind of nurse I aspire to be. Back when I was an LPN only a few years ago, I had no idea what specialty I wanted or even whether I wanted to stick with nursing. The more education I get, the clearer my goals become."

Getting Your Master`s in Nursing Degree Online

What degree program should you choose? If you`re balancing family and work commitments, you`ll want to consider accredited online nursing programs, which many nursing students extoll as being high-quality and low-cost.

Tricia Nickell recently received her MSN from Walden University`s online program. "You can work from home, it`s easily accessible, wonderful online library and numerous resources, great writing center, and doable with a full time job," she says, ticking off the advantages of an online program. "I really enjoyed this program."

Tricia`s degree had tangible benefits for her career, she says: she`s now a clinical instructor for the School of Nursing at Riverside and continues to work part-time in a Post Anesthetic Care Unit.

Tammy Gerrity, Coordinator of Clinical Education at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, got her MSN through South University`s online program. She says, "The online program allowed flexibility in my schedule. The courses had four days per week to log in to the site, but they were asynchronous, so the time was totally at your own convenience."

Tammy also appreciated the diversity of an online student body. "The students were from in and out of the country," she says, "and were able to offer invaluable perspectives into nursing."

3 Ways to Put Your MSN Degree to Work Right Away

Whether you choose to explore an online MSN degree program or opt for a traditional classroom program, you can enjoy the benefits of a master`s degree before you even graduate. Here are three ways:

1. Ask your workplace if they offer a tuition reimbursement program. Your master`s degree may cost less than you think!

2. While job hunting, mention that you are currently pursuing your master`s degree. Even job openings that stipulate graduate-level education may bend the rules if you`re close to graduation and can show related experience.

3. Connect with other graduate students on forums and blogs. Your shared goal of a master`s degree can help you forge connections in unpredictable ways.

And remember, more and more nursing specialties are starting to make a nursing master`s degree a requirement. Plan for your future. Transform your nursing career with a master`s degree!

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