MSN vs. RN Nursing: Seeking Career Choices in 2021

Nursing is a lucrative and rewarding profession, and projections reveal that it is the fastest-growing one worldwide. Nursing leaders and professionals form the backbone of a healthcare organization, and the demand for skilled professionals is ever-increasing.

A high-powered profession, nursing demands capable and skilled professionals who can perform exceptionally well in stressful situations. Most professionals begin their careers as registered nurses (RN) and then pursue academic advancement and specialized training. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the next step in the educational and professional pathway to get insights into the field.

Both RN and MSN professionals work in many healthcare settings and work closely with medical practitioners and patients. They help diagnose and treat illnesses, monitor symptoms, alleviate discomfort, facilitate patient-doctor communication, and spread awareness. In 2021, the nursing field is ripe with leadership opportunities, and these opportunities come with academic advancement.

Let’s take a closer look at the educational requirements and career advancement potential of RN and MSN degrees.



The educational requirements for pursuing an RN and MSN are strikingly different and understandably so. AN RN degree requires students to have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). It’s a two-year program from an accredited nursing institution or community college. Most healthcare employers require registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year program from a nursing university or college. Many professionals pursue an RN to BSN program after completing their AND program. An MSN degree is the next step a professional takes after completing a bachelor’s degree. It involves an additional two years of education and training.

In recent years, online learning has allowed nursing professionals to study part-time without undertaking an enormous financial or professional burden. Working nurses can pursue CCNE accredited online MSN programs to expand their knowledge and enjoy greater responsibility and professional prestige. An MSN degree involves advanced clinical training and comprehensive expertise in diagnosing, treating, and managing common illnesses.

A master’s in nursing allows professionals to explore advanced clinical positions, increased job satisfaction, organizational significance, and financial rewards. On average, nurse practitioners and anesthetists earn over $115,000 annually with higher job security and stability.



RN and MSN nurses have strikingly different job roles and responsibilities because MSN professionals are closely involved in clinical settings.


Registered Nurses (RN)

Registered nurses work closely with patients and help them with compassion and empathy. They get trained to deal with stressful situations with a calm and standardized procedure in the ER, pediatric ward, etc.

RNs require strong communication skills to effectively engage with medical practitioners, patients, caregivers, and family members. They work closely with other healthcare practitioners, nurses, physicians, and administrative staff to deliver quality patient care.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring patients to observe symptoms and treatment outcomes
  • Recording patient information and managing records
  • Supervising nursing teams
  • Liaising between patients, doctors, and healthcare teams
  • Consultations with visiting and permanent healthcare practitioners
  • Communicating with patients, primary caregivers, and family members
  • Raising awareness on symptoms, side-effects, and lifestyle choices


Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

An MSN program is an advanced degree that opens up lucrative opportunities for professional growth and clinical responsibilities. The roles, however, vary, depending on state regulations and healthcare policies. In most states, MSN professionals can work independently and under physicians’ or surgeons’ supervision.

Advanced nurses manage diagnostic and monitoring responsibilities, allowing physicians to focus on core specialties and treatments. MSN professionals are nurse leaders who train and administer nursing teams. These professionals have dynamic organizational and communication skills that allow them great respect and esteem amongst peers.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Prescribing medications to treat pain and discomfort
  • Monitoring symptoms, side effects, and adverse drug reactions
  • Facilitating diagnosis by examining patient health data and medical histories
  • Designing and evaluating treatment plans
  • Staging interventions and patient awareness
  • Ordering necessary medical tests and examining results


The significant difference between an RN and MSN graduate is the ability to prescribe medications. MSN professionals are directly involved in the diagnosis, prescribing medications, and designing and evaluating treatments.



A master’s in nursing program offers specialized education and advanced training. It allows a professional to carve out a rewarding and lucrative career, preparing as a mid-level practitioner. MSN professionals can work independently or under the supervision of a physician.

Aspirants can choose a specialization, finish their education, clear the national certification board exam and start practicing. An MSN program can open an exciting array of lucrative career advancement opportunities. These opportunities come with increased financial rewards and job perks.


Specializations & Advanced Training

Professionals can set up their practice or enjoy greater marketability and higher job security in healthcare organizations. Nurses with an MSN degree can explore numerous specializations to build a promising career that is extensively rewarding.

They can explore specializations in adult care, family care, hospice care, gerontology, and pediatrics.


Leadership Opportunities

Nurses can also achieve career and academic advancement with a doctoral program to emerge as an influential professional. Nurses can then pursue leadership roles, research opportunities, teaching positions, or work with global healthcare organizations. An MSN program opens up the door that leads to several promising pathways, such as leadership roles, clinical experience, research, and more.


Higher Job Satisfaction

Registered nurses work exhaustingly long shifts under extremely stressful conditions. Their working conditions often cause a strain on their personal life and wellbeing. However, nurses with MSN degrees can carve out flexible work hours and enjoy greater autonomy. They have greater significance within healthcare settings as they can diagnose, treat and monitor illnesses. MSN professionals enjoy greater job satisfaction, security, and financial rewards.



Pursuing an MSN degree alongside working as a full-time nurse is a challenging goal. Leaving your job to go back to school is also a risky move with an enormous financial burden. Luckily, with e-learning opportunities, you can advance your education without halting your progress.

It would require discipline, balance, and dedication, but you will find yourself drained, emotionally and physically. Ask yourself: do I want my career to remain stagnant in the position of a registered nurse? Or do I seek leadership roles, financial stability, and higher job satisfaction?

As mentioned above, nursing is abuzz with opportunities, but these opportunities come to those who pursue advanced training. By enhancing your skills and increasing your expertise, you will improve your demand. An MSN degree allows you to take control of your career!


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