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when becoming a nurse which degree is better to get first, MSN or BSN?

Hi, I am a sophomore who is interested in being a neonatal nurse. I know that obtaining a BSN takes longer so would it be best to start off with that one and obtain a MSN later when I am working to gain the experience that is needed? #nurse #healthcare #degree #working

Thank you comment icon Good for you for asking a great question! Nursing is a great field and I have a feeling youre gonna be excellent at it NurseSandy
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3 answers

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NurseSandy’s Answer


Getting an MSN first is not an option. Here's how nursing degrees work:

ADN = Associate's Degree in Nursing

BSN = Bachelor's of Science in Nursing

MSN = Master's of Science in Nursing

DNP = Doctor of Nursing Practice.

You real choice right now isn't between a BSN and an MSN, it's between a BSN and an ADN. MSNs and DNPs are advanced degrees that are only possible after getting a BSN. So how do you decide between getting an ADN (2 years) and getting a BSN (4 years). NursingLink has a really good comparison between the two here. I'll repost their summary below:

Advantages to taking an ADN program:

  • It is usually less expensive

  • It is less time consuming – You will become a nurse quicker

Advantages to taking the BSN:

  • You will have more opportunities to advance to higher positions in nursing (for example as a nurse manager.)

  • You will be prepared to enter a advanced degree program (for example, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist.)

Thank you comment icon Thank you! DejaCodman2 .
Thank you comment icon Keep in mind, depending on where you are and if the hospital is or is going for Magnet status, you wouls likely have difficulty getting a job with an AND. There is a big push now for nurses to have higher degrees, so I would save time (in the long run) and go straight for the BSN then decide if you want to go back once you have some experience Stephani Hunt
Thank you comment icon should someone trying to a nurse go for there RN or would they need something different to work in a hospital? MiKayla C.
Thank you comment icon You could get your LPN or RN license to work as a nurse, but in many areas of the country and certain types of hospitals, they only hire RNs, so you would have to look to see what types of jobs are being offered in your area to see which would be most worth it for you. You could also look into Physician Assistant, radiology tech, etc. to be able to work in a hopsital if nursing isn't what you want to focus on! Stephani Hunt
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Suzanne’s Answer

Actually, there are some programs where as long as you have an undergraduate bachelors degree in any field you can immediately enroll to get an MSN. These programs are generally not favored by healthcare professionals however because if your first exposure to nursing is through an MSN you are missing crucial bedside nursing experience. Without that, you will not be as good at the MSN-related positions as you would have been had you first gotten a BSN, then worked, and then gone back to school for further study and degrees.

Some hospitals have funding programs available to their nursing staff who are working while pursuing their MSNs. This can be a cost effective way to go. Of course each hospital creates their own terms to the funding (for example, after earning your degree you may be required to work at the hospital that funded you for several years), so do your research first.

Thank you comment icon thank you! DejaCodman2 .
Thank you comment icon I am one of those people. I get a scholarship and a small amount of tuition reimursement from my work as I am a full time employee. I agree with Suzanne, you dont want to be in charge of people's lives to a larger extent with a higher degree withiut the experience and knowing how things work at your facility Stephani Hunt
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Stephani’s Answer

Also to add to what I wrote in the comment section above, many accelerated programs get less clinical time because it is more rushed, and personally I think the experience is you get from working as a nurse is invaluable, and the less you have going into it, the harder it will be to catch on and get in your groove,