Hats off to further study Postgraduate study is no longer only for experienced practitioners – it is becoming more common among newly qualified nurses. Universities are realising that those who have recently finished an undergraduate nursing programme are well placed for study at master’s level and beyond. This article explores my reasons for starting a master’s course just after qualifying as a nurse. Approaching the end of a nursing degree, most students will be thinking jobs, jobs, jobs. Having spent at least three years juggling placements, assignments and part-time work while trying to have a social life, the possibility of a full-time salary with actual days off is certainly appealing. So why would anyone stay at university for another year when they are a qualified nurse? I completed my undergraduate degree in mental health nursing at Glasgow Caledonian University in September and started a postgraduate master’s in advanced nursing in the same month. It was not a decision I took lightly – I spent some time considering the pros and cons.

Money matters

The most obvious factor to think about was funding. The average cost of a full-time postgraduate master’s programme is £5,000, so you can see why finance is one of the main barriers to nurses studying at this level. Most employers, including the NHS, have a ring-fenced fund to support nurses in continuing professional development. Organisations such as the RCN Foundation and the Florence


Katie Davis on the benefits of starting a master’s degree straight after completing an undergraduate programme

An online search revealed that there are more than 500 master’s level courses for registered nurses in the UK. Some of these are specialised and target specific areas of nursing, but most universities offer courses in advanced practice or advanced nursing that are open to nurses from all fields. The attraction of studying a generic programme is that it covers topics such as leadership and safe practice. I also get to attend classes with nurses from all areas of care, as well as professionals from allied healthcare professions such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This enables practice to be viewed from a truly multidisciplinary perspective.

Leading edge

Nightingale Foundation also offer funding for postgraduate courses (see resources). However, some nurses self-fund their master’s study and attend classes on their days off. I was lucky enough to secure funding from the Scottish Government, which covered the course fees and provides a bursary to assist with living costs. A benefit of moving straight from an undergraduate programme to postgraduate study is that I am already in study mode and I am passionate about my chosen subjects. After studying a prescribed curriculum for three years, I can now pursue the subjects that really interest me, such as the use of psychosocial interventions.

Graduation does not have be the end of the journey

Master’s courses are generally aimed at nurses with years of experience, such as senior charge nurses and those in management roles. Programmes are designed to prepare the individual so they can contribute to the development of nursing practice. They offer skills in leadership and decision making. I might not be stepping into management at this early stage in my career, but I am ambitious. I know that taking this course will help me to progress and give me the necessary tools to influence mental health practice and services in the future NS Katie Davis is a postgraduate nursing student at Glasgow Caledonian University RESOURCES Florence Nightingale Foundation RCN Foundation Postgraduate studentships

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Hats off to further study.

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