What Is Valued More In Nursing – Experience or Education?

Female nurse talking with older patient

Here’s a question that often spurs on great debate among nurses of all ages and specialties. Experience vs. education. Which is valued more in nursing? Why? What are the pros and cons of either side? We want to hear from you! Remember this is a friendly conversation between nurse allies. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and check back to see what your fellow nurses think.

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Marcus Threadgill
2 months ago

Experience is preferred by other nurses. Education is preferred by institutions. Experience is education that has not been formalized.

2 months ago

I would personally want to believe that experience and education have equal value. My own observation has been that of most value is staying teachable.

2 months ago

I have both…a master’s degree and 40 years of nursing experience. My patient care benefits from both. As far as getting a better job…age discrimination is rampant and therefore I feel that my experience doesn’t end up counting for much and may in fact be a detriment.

2 months ago

I believe experience and education go hand in hand , but experience is way more important ,also you need the right personality and temperament, to be a great nurse.

Wilhelmina Shaw
2 months ago

I have been a nurse for 40 years, I believe that experience and critical thinking skills are the most important in a clinical setting. I was recently a patient a couple incidents had me wanting to sign out AMA.

2 months ago

I think experience is more important. I have worked with RN’s that were very educated, but couldn’t really function on the floor. I have yet to see more educated nurses function at a higher level than experienced nurses. I deal is when a higher educated nurse has experience also.

2 months ago

I personally believe that experience is best over education. Although a person needs theory behind everything they do in nursing, the wealth of information you obtain being at the bedside and getting experience is golden and cannot be replaced. For example, a nurse manager cannot address the needs of a unit without having been at that bedside to experience what it is truly like actually caring for patients.

Margarita J Abbey
2 months ago

I think experience and education are complimentary. It has been true in my life. I have now retired after more than 36 years in the clinical area. The experience, I started to pack in from a diploma school. Continued my education by getting my BSN and eventually my MSN. All along working to continue packing in the experience. That paid off well when I was hired as a Nurse Practitioner for cardiology in a large hospital with a busy cardiology service. I was concerned that the staff nurses might give me a hard time. But, I was wrong. They accepted… Read more »

Julie Fredrickson
2 months ago

Both are needed, a good nurse needs to be educated properly first and then builds that experience up after getting into the trenches. I think if I was in a hospital and had flipped into v-fib I would want the nurse that has the experience to recognize and react quickly. If I was in a clinical trial with a new investigative drug then my go to nurse would be one that has the education to understand the nuances of that drug. I think it depends on setting and situation.

2 months ago

I think both are valued and necessary. Personally, I received my diploma, then went on to get my BSN and MSN. I have provided value at each milestone. I have also been certified in every specialty that I have worked in (OCN, CGRN, CENP). Being a life-long learner and striving to provide quality care to every patient is most important.

2 months ago

When I was an experienced nurse with an AD, I didn’t think much of education. I got paid the same as the BSN nurse and we both did the same job in an ICU. Then my job forced me to get more education in order to stay in my position because we were a Magnet facility. I grew with the BS degree in ways I never anticipated and I became a much better nurse as a result of that education. Finally, I had to get more education to maintain another position in management. Again, I grew to understand the value… Read more »

2 months ago

I couldn’t say it better than Michael and Marcus below.
Remaining teachable is key. Experience would tip the scale for me but if we don’t stay teachable then the experience may not keep up with best practice.

2 months ago

I have been an RN for 35 years. I would have to say common sense and critical thinking skills are most important, real experience especially in floor nurse is of great importance, you need to be able to notice signs of patient decline w/in minutes to give effective care. My elderly mother was recently hospitalized for 3 days, I was sad to see the decline in the RN role, RN never completed head to toe assessment, would walk into room, ask my mom how she felt and went straight to her computer to chart. RN could have been an aide.

Mazie O. Mahaffey
2 months ago

I am 77 years young. I manage In-Home Aides for a State/Federal funded Program. I started in the hospital as a Nurses Assistant, became an LPN, A Hospital Based 36 Month
Diploma Registered Nurse, and Last but not least a University Educated BSN. Education is important but experience along with is the icing on the cake. I still love to learn,
“Study to show thyself approved. A workman who need not be ashamed”.

2 months ago

Well said Michael. I concur 🙂 Be well everyone.

Marilyn Sullivan
2 months ago

You have to have the education to be a nurse. Experience expands on the education.

2 months ago

Education is important theoretical knowledge without experience to guide critical thinking, problem solving and clinical judgements skills that are so important in our role as nurses, but also as educators. As an educator, my vast experience at the bedside allows me to be able to think on my feet and not just rely on theory to guide practice for me and my students…it keeps it real and supportive.

Petrolina Downer
2 months ago

Well said Michael.

Shawanda Carter
1 month ago

I think experience is more important because education changes especially in nursing. Policies and evidence base information forever changing.

1 month ago

I believe that the best nurses come from the crossroads of both Experience and Education. Education is great for theory, but without the practice of application it can be an awkward and sometimes dangerous for both the nurse and the patient. This is evident in even small tasks such as setting an IV; inserting a urinary catheter; sealing a wound vac. dressing; pushing medications, etc. Education is great, but experience is “Knowledge in Action”. We need BOTH Experienced and Educated nurses, but only the experienced are qualified to impart the “This is how we do it” knowledge to the new… Read more »

Thomas Kunce
1 month ago

There is very little substitute for experience. Education will put your mind in patient focus but experience will wield the individualized treatment specific for your patient.

P. Lee
2 months ago

In my view, experience is the better. I value education as well, but without experience, it’s worthless. I went to an associate degree program in the 1970s. I became a RN when I was 19. But the best teacher I had was a fatherly orderly who taught me what I needed to know in practice, from bed making to (more importantly) assessments of patients. While I was in the associate program, I attended a speech given by Virginia Henderson. She was speaking out for the 1985 Proposal, that would have mandated a BSN Requirement for nurses after 1985. (“Monkeys are… Read more »

Audrey Nethersole
2 months ago

RrBoth experience and education are necessary to be effective as an RN. That is why there is an orientation and mentor ship for new nurses. While it is important to have task skills down cold it is also necessary to understand anatomy and physiology etiology and pathophysiology of diseases. When you know why you are doing things it makes the task easier to complete. Education is necessary to develop a care plan, but skill is needed to place an I dwelling Foley catheter in a contracted patient. If all that was needed was skill there would be no need for… Read more »

2 months ago

both they will work anywhere be it be a hospital, SNF , Jail, schools, etc. or on the street both go hand and hand.

Lynda Bruce
2 months ago

As a nurse on a busy PCU unit experience is a plus but keeping your knowledge current is essential. After 34 yrs as an ADN, I completed my BSN. I learned how to write very clear and concise papers. I had hoped to learn about research but if you weren’t already knowledgeable they weren’t willing to teach you. I was very disappointed. Other than that since I am PCCN certified it was a big waste of my time except to keep my employment options open. I had thought about an MSN. I learned most of the work done is in… Read more »

Patricia Khan
2 months ago

There are too many variables to give a short answer. As a co worker, I prefer a person who has some experience, but is teachable. The last two hospitals for which I worked had very informal, sink or swim type orientation. Sadly, there were not enough nursing staff to formally precept. It was a horrible experience for the patients, let alone the new nurses. If a nurse is entering a field out of his/her area of experience, education will be preferred. Myself, I have 40 years of experience in management, case management and utilization. I was a hands on manager… Read more »