Making Nursing a Second Career

Nursing is a fast-growing profession. Widespread shortages and turnover have led to steadily increasing demand. An “average” annual employment growth rate of 6% is accompanied by a projected 203,000 new RN openings per year. No doubt, nurses will be highly sought after and well compensated for years to come. The field has gained so much popularity that many have sought to pursue it as a second career. Even individuals in the middle of different career paths have chosen to dip their toes in healthcare. To learn how or why you should pursue nursing as a second career, read on.

How can I become a nurse now? 

You may be asking yourself this question: is it too late for me to become a nurse, Luckily, the answer is a resounding no. Nursing schools have provided a variety of flexible educational opportunities for individuals looking to jumpstart their HCP careers later in life. Although there are more options than ever, you still need to put the work in to get up to speed. 

There are two main routes to becoming a registered nurse: an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The former is quicker and lets you become an RN in two years. For context, a full BSN program takes around 4. The tradeoff is the prestige and extra weight of a BSN. Your additional education and training will make you a more attractive candidate by default. Without fail, healthcare employers will prioritize BSN RNs over ADN RNs.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can apply for an Accelerated BSN program that only takes 2 years. Just keep in mind that the curriculum is extremely compressed and highly demanding. This is the quickest way to pivot into RN work, from another field. After you graduate, you have to pass a standardized certification exam known as the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This ensures that all certified RNs meet the national requirements for skill, knowledge, and competence before they enter the workforce. 

There are also RN-to-BSN Bridge Programs for ADN RNs who want to improve their education. These only take one to two years to complete, and you can more easily maintain your clinical job while you study. 

How do I pursue education if I have a second job? 

Juggling the work you already have with additional study can be difficult. Accelerated BSN programs in particular can be incredibly challenging. Luckily, the modern-day student has a variety of online options at their fingertips. There are accredited online versions of every RN program type available. It will still be challenging, but the remote setup affords flexibility for working students. 

Depending on where you enroll, you may also find the option to complete course material at your own pace (although this will make it slower to complete your course.) If you have the bandwidth, you can also opt into evening or weekend classes, to better accommodate for your work schedule. Just keep in mind that you still have to fulfill skills tests and clinical rotations in person. 

You also want to look into employment support and tuition reimbursement. Some RN programs can get expensive, and not everyone has the resources to afford them immediately. Academic institutions in particular may offer a certain amount of credits for every hour worked. Just keep in mind that not every workplace offers these services. 

Go out there 

Pursuing nursing as a second career is not an easy business. It takes fortitude, dedication, and diligence to maintain your studies and your previous professional obligations. With enough determination, however, it is not impossible. Provided that you understand what you are getting yourself into, you will eventually get to where you want to be. Nursing is a challenging business, but it is an exciting and constantly evolving field. Moreover, it allows you to affect the lives of others in a direct, meaningful way. It may be a challenge, but no other job compares. 

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