Talking MSN: Desire and Discipline

Keep your eye on the prize.

That’s what I told myself during my marathon BSN program.

But there is no prize unless you start the process.

In part 2 of my discussion on graduate nursing education with blogger and Nurse Practitioner student Sean Dent, we talked about the difference between graduate and undergraduate education.

How does grad school differ from undergraduate education?

The expectations are higher. This is a higher level of learning, and I guess it’s a matter of treating you more like an ‘adult’ as opposed to a post-high school adolescent if that makes any sense?

I guess I look at it from the traditional student sense that most undergraduate students are in the 18-23 age bracket, where graduate students are mostly older than 24 years of age. So maybe the tolerance of a cavalier (or immature) attitude is much lower at the graduate level.

This may be a bit premature, but have you considered going on to a doctoral program?

Hah! Premature? If you are a nurse pursuing their advanced degree, you better be prepared to entertain the inevitable progression of your education. If the AACN’s mission and the IOM report have any truth to them, all advanced practice nurses will be required to attain their DNP by the end of this decade. Now this is mostly referring to advanced practice nurses (CRNA, CRNP, Nurse Mid-Wives, etc.), but I’m willing to bet that these efforts will eventually extrapolate to all master’s level educated nurses.

I mean, there is still the push to have all entry-level nurses start with their BSN, so elevating the level of all nursing education is happening.

What advice would you have for those who are on the fence re: returning for an advanced degree?

I think all nurses, yes I say ALL nurses, contemplate the idea of pursing an advanced degree. Most are deterred by financial, schedule, or lifestyle restrictions. The exciting part of this day and age is that all of those restrictions have solutions. ALL of them. It’s not a question of ability or capability anymore, it’s only a matter of desire and discipline. Higher education = unlimited (almost) career opportunities = higher pay. It’s really that simple.

Many thanks to Sean for letting me share our discussion!


Sean P. Dent, BSN, RN, CCRN, blogs at My Strong Medicine and you can also find him at his blog over at Scrubs Magazine.


If you have your MSN or are an MSN student and would like to be featured in a future “Talking MSN” post, you can contact me at “kmcallister911 at gmail dot com”.