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The Future of Nursing: Why an Advanced Degree is Critical Now

The healthcare industry is quickly evolving and nurses are being called to achieve higher levels of education to meet industry and employer demands. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing industry is predicted to grow 26% by the year 2020, larger than other occupations. Advances in medical technology, the raise of the aging population, and an increased emphasis on preventative care largely contribute to the need of masters prepared nurses.

Nurses who achieve their Master of Science in Nursing will not only become more marketable in this competitive industry, but will be rewarded with the opportunity to become influential leaders in their field. Masters prepared nurses are given the knowledge and skills to develop and implement nursing practice initiatives as they act as agents of change while improving patient care and outcomes.

The Need for Nursing Competencies

As the healthcare system evolves and adapts to the changes of the 21st century, nurses will need advanced competencies to ensure patients are receiving expert care. According to the Future of Nursing Report, these competencies include technical knowledge, system improvement, geriatrics, health policy, leadership and collaboration, and evidence-based practice. While nurses are highly encouraged to earn advanced degrees, it is also important for nurses to practice “lifelong learning” and continued education to meet the growing demands of the health care system.

Trending Toward an Advanced Degree

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has reported a significant increase in advanced degree nurses - 67% for master’s programs and 25% for research-focused doctorates, which coincides with a recent initiative in the Institute of Medicine’s “Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” which advocates for nurses to pursue a post-graduate degree to meet industry demands.

While a Bachelors of Science in Nursing provides an excellent core foundation, nurses with their Masters degree can practice a specialization based on their professional interests and goals. Masters prepared nurses have learned the skills and knowledge to fulfill advanced positions in their field:

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Educator
  • Chief Nursing Executive
  • Nursing Unit Director
  • Nursing Administrator

Saint Xavier University offers convenient, online Master of Science in Nursing programs for nurses wishing to advance their education and become leaders in their field. Saint Xavier offers both a Clinical Leadership and Executive Leadership (Nursing Administration) concentration based on students professional interests and goals. The School of Nursing at Saint Xavier has been re-designated a “Center of Excellence in Nursing Education” and is only one of 17 universities to receive this designation. For more information on how you can improve patient outcomes and advance your nursing education through Saint Xavier’s online Masters of Science in Nursing program, visit or call (866) 319-8966 to speak with a program advisor.