Motivators of Pursuing Nursing Education at the Graduate Level
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Motivators of Pursuing Nursing Education at the Graduate Level Abstract Background: As the U.S. nursing shortage continues, there remains a growing need for a highly educated work force. The necessity to pursue a graduate degree in nursing has not been as widely encouraged as the baccalaureate degree. Master’s prepared nurses are essential across a variety of health care settings to serve in leadership, management, and advanced primary provider positions, as well as academic settings as faculty members and researchers. While the percentage of nurses earning a master’s degree has risen gradually, the need for additional highly educated nurses persists as rapid advancements in health care technology including telehealth and informatics occur. Purpose: Having a greater understanding of the motivators to return to school, barriers preventing return, and factors that enable students to persist in a graduate level program will facilitate nursing programs to recruit qualified students and help (facilitate) meet the needs of current and future students. While there is an abundance of literature reporting on these factors for RN-BSN students, there is a dearth of information on the similar considerations for MSN students. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to ascertain what the motivators, barriers, and persistence factors are for nurses seeking to earn a graduate nursing degree. Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional descriptive survey of graduate level nursing students to determine what factors motivated them to return to school, the barriers they had overcome, and what elements allowed them to persist in their studies. Results: The highest level of agreement for motivating factors included: finding personal satisfaction in earning an MSN (M = 4.76), a desire to expand nursing knowledge (M = 4.31), a belief that nurses with an MSN command greater respect as professional (M = 3.76), and the belief that earning an advanced degree would increase confidence at work (M = 3.61). Financial challenges (M = 3.70), inflexible work schedules (M 3.54), and difficult family situations (M = 3.20) were shown to be the main barriers students needed to overcome in order to return to school. The highest agreement among the factors that allowed students to persist in the MSN program included the following: personal reasons encourage me to persist (M = 4.82), confidence in ability to complete the program (M = 4.45), have the necessary family encouragement and support to complete the program (M = 4.45), and have the necessary faculty encouragement and support to complete the program (M = 4.18). Conclusion: A recommendation is made for more robust recruitment, expanded awareness of program/curriculum details for potential students, and encouraging employers to provide tuition reimbursement and loan repayments. Additionally, ensuring that employers who do provide financial support communicate this to their employees as a motivating factor.