Advanced Degrees: Are They Worth It?
Would you acquire $20,000 worth of debt to purchase a new car? Considering that price is about average for a new car, most of us would view the monthly payment as tolerable, even considering that same car will go down in value, and be practically run into the ground 10-15 years after purchase.
Now, consider an advanced degree. One that costs $20,000. Would you commit as readily to that as you would to a car? And yet, the advanced degree has the potential to increase your marketability, your job options, and your salary for the rest of your working life.
You know, it’s harder for me to see the value in the education up front, and easier to instantly “sign and drive” that beautiful new car off the lot. Why is this?
Perhaps the immediate gratification of the car vs. the hard work involved with the degree?
John Cole once said, “When you educate a woman, you educate a family” (ThinkExist, 2006). That rings true. How influential are we as women, usually the hubs of our families, at encouraging, supporting, and providing an example to our own children and other family, perhaps even nieces or nephews!
I recently interviewed a colleague I met a few years prior as she rode her motorcycle to a discussion about forming a virtual chapter of the Georgia Nurses’ Association (GNA). She has an advanced degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). The majority of her work remains focused on providing hands-on patient care. The state of Georgia currently does not require any continuing education for nurses and does not recognize CNS as Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs). CB was instrumental in getting the Georgia Board of Nursing (GBN) to address this and expects the GBN to announce changes soon.
CB’s graduate education enables her to look at things differently, evaluate evidence and research, question things more, and have more patience and tolerance. Her graduate education has served her well in everything she has done since graduating in 1992. She does not receive additional financial compensation as a staff nurse for her advanced degree.
To make the work of an advanced nursing degree seem less onerous, CB advises, “Don’t give up. You don’t need to get straight A’s. No one including potential employers has ever asked or required her grade point average (GPA). Use one focus topic that you REALLY like for several classes. Borrow and share as much as you can from and with others (without plagiarism, of course). Graduate school is much more tolerable if you don’t feel that you are in it alone. Focus, focus, focus. Remember it does have an END!!!!”
Lack of funds is a definite stressor for adults returning to school to pursue advanced degrees. In the end, however, investing in your own net worth as an individual can bring lifelong rewards. More and more healthcare facilities and entities are leaning towards hiring nurses with advanced degrees in the near future. If the time is not right to obtain an advanced nursing degree, keep the ol’ brain sharp and continue to expand your knowledge base by investing in continuing education opportunities right here on Nursing Crib!
~This post co-written by Katie Morales, MNEd, BN, RN