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More master’s degree nurses needed

The need for nurses with master’s degrees has never been greater. There are several reasons for this:

  • A shortage of healthcare professionals
  • An increase in the number of people who are covered by health insurance
  • An aging population
  • The growing complexity of health care

The shortage of healthcare professionals

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 55 percent of the registered nurse workforce is 50 years or older, and one million RNs are predicted to reach retirement age within the next 15 years. Unfortunately, nursing schools in this country are turning away nearly 80,000 would-be nursing students a year, largely due to an insufficient number of faculty. At the same time, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of about 90,000 physicians by 2025. In its 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education,” the Institute of Medicine—now the National Academy of Medicine—noted that with the looming shortage of healthcare professionals, there is an intense need for nurse leaders, nurse practitioners and nurse educators.

More people with healthcare coverage

The passage of healthcare reform in 2010 means millions more people in this country have access to healthcare insurance and healthcare – preventive and otherwise. However, many physicians are unable to absorb the increased patient load and are looking to advanced nurse practitioners to help fill the care gap.

The wave of aging baby boomers

The baby boomer population (those born between 1946 and 1964) has always had an impact on this country socially and economically. There are 72 million baby boomers and they are turning 65 at the rate of about 10,000 a day. This means a steadily increasing number of older Americans who will be coping with chronic diseases and numerous social and medical needs. The healthcare system will require more master's-prepared nurses to care knowledgeably and skillfully for this population.

Today's healthcare environment is complex

Gone are the days when one family physician and one local hospital met all the needs of patients and the community. Today's inpatient and outpatient settings are more complex and confusing for patients, families, caregivers and even healthcare professionals. In this dynamic healthcare environment, NPs should take an active role as a member and/or leader of interprofessional teams. Paying attention to gaps in quality may provide a focused direction for areas needing improvement. These areas include but are not limited to: 1) practice management, 2) health policy, 3) use of informatics, 3) risk management, 4) evaluation of evidence and 5) advanced diagnosis and management of disease process. This means that today's nurses must be highly educated in order to competently coordinate care among many providers and community agencies, to help patients manage multiple chronic illnesses, provide direct care in acute and primary care settings, and to understand and use the latest technology.

Now is the time to consider an online MSN program

The most widely accepted route to a career as a nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse leader is through an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Nursing. Today's MSN-prepared nurses go beyond carrying out orders and performing basic nursing care. They are being called upon as skilled professionals to assume leadership roles in health, education, community and social arenas. An online MSN program is an ideal way to learn these skills, especially for nurses who must continue working while attending school.

The University of Texas at Arlington's online MSN program prepares nurses for family nurse practitioner, educator or upper-management roles, with the ultimate goal of providing the best and most cost-effective care for patients available.


The Institute of Medicine, “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education.”

Bernstein, Lenny. “U.S. faces 90,000 doctor shortage by 2025, medical school association warns.”

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “Nursing shortage.”

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