4 reasons for RNs to go back to school

4 min read


Healthcare is continually changing. Nurses are at the heart and center of it all. For registered nurses, preparing to offer the best care to patients could mean furthering their education. There are many paths nurses choose to advance their education, but two popular tracts are RN to BSN and RN to MSN degrees. While a classroom setting is a good option for some nurses, working a full-time job and attending an on-campus nursing program presents challenges. There are options available for nurses working full-time or unable to attend a physical classroom as technology has made RN to BSN programs and RN to MSN programs readily available and easy to navigate.  

Reasons nurses choose to continue their education

The benefits of nurses advancing their education are endless, but the reason most nurses decide to further their education falls within four categories:

  • Patient safety
  • Better career opportunities
  • Salary benefits
  • Higher job satisfaction

Patient safety

Studies show that, compared to non-BSN-prepared nurses, BSN-prepared nurses are safer for patients at the bedside and reduce mortality rates. According to a study by The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), every 10% increase of nurses holding a bachelor’s degree was associated with decreased patient mortality. Another study found that BSN-prepared nurses helped lower mortality rates in a cardiac unit by 4.9 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients.

Whether in the operating room, on a medical-surgical floor, or alone in a patient’s home, patient safety always comes first. BSN and MSN programs provide nurses with the education and training to feel more confident in:

  • Delivering rescue care when needed
  • Competent medication reconciliation and administration
  • Providing accurate patient education
  • Recognizing changes in patient condition that require immediate medical attention

Better career opportunities

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum opens up opportunities and different paths for nurses. Many nurses desire to work at magnet hospitals, most of which require a minimum of a BSN, or give preference to RNs with a BSN. Magnet hospitals offer nurses higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and greater autonomy. This gives nurses more flexibility, to be able to grow within the role.

Registered nurses with BSNs are prepared to face challenges and solve problems and can thrive in various positions such as:

  • Leadership
  • Health educator at a high school level
  • Information technology in healthcare
  • Remote or work-from-home roles
  • Insurance companies
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Case management

MSN-prepared nurses have an even wider array of career options and fulfilling roles. They may take the role of a provider as Family Nurses Practitioners or Nurses Anesthetists. MSN programs prepare nurses for roles such as:

  • Nurse educator or professor
  • Geriatric or Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Informatics Specialist
  • Clinical Nurse Researcher
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Forensic Nurse Consultant
  • Nurse Ethicist
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurses Anesthetists
  • Legal Nurse Consultant

Salary benefits for RNs vs. nurses with a BSN or MSN

Pursuing higher education can significantly increase a nurse’s income. According to the 2020 Medscape RN/LPN Compensation Report, RNs with a bachelor’s degree earned an annual average salary of $80,000, while those with the ADN earned just $76,000. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses with a BSN made a median of $73,300 in 2019. The Medscape report noted that nurses with an MSN earned $91,000 per year. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for MSN-prepared nurses is $95,019. Whether you are an RN or hold a BSN or MSN, your exact salary depends on location, education, experience, your job title, and the healthcare organization you’re working for.

Higher job satisfaction

Beyond compensation, nurses care about job satisfaction. They often endure difficult situations and emergencies; having a positive sense of job satisfaction and accomplishment is a driving force behind every action nurses take towards their patients and responsibilities. Nurses experience jobs satisfaction when they: 

  • Provide the best possible care
  • Fill a need during a nursing shortage and pandemic
  • Follow their true passion
  • Gain knowledge
  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Educate and empower
  • Experience flexibility and autonomy
  • Safely utilize evidence-based practice

Nurses are needed now more than ever. The nursing shortage is upon us, and schools are unable to meet the demands. The AACN reported that even though there’s an increase of 5.1% enrollment for BSN programs in 2019, it’s still not enough to meet the demands for nurse faculty, researchers, and clinicians. More than 1 million nurses are expected to leave the workforce by 2030. The opportunities are ahead, and well-prepared nurses should be at the forefront of leading, teaching, and healing. 

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Marisol Ramirez, RN, CHC


Marisol Ramirez, RN, CHC


Marisol Ramirez, RN, CHC

Marisol Ramirez, RN, CHC, graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Southwestern Adventist University in 2005. She has 15 years of experience in varied nursing specialties. She started her career on the medical-surgical floor, then transitioned into case management. She has extensive case management experience both at the home health and corporate HMO/MCOs levels, focusing on the geriatric population and those with disabilities and chronic conditions, and has held supervisory and teaching roles. As a nurse and certified health coach, her passion is to make a positive difference, promote prevention, and help guide those in her community to experience health and wellness. In her spare time, she enjoys research, writing, playing the piano and cello, travel, and the outdoors.