Perhaps you chose your current career out of necessity, or your preferences for working have changed as you have gotten older and learned more about yourself and what you enjoy the most. Perhaps life experiences have changed your perspective on working and have led you to consider a change of career into something that will enable you to help others and make a real difference in the world.
Either way, there’s a nursing shortage in the US currently, and the healthcare system needs all the good nurses that it can get. If you don’t feel fulfilled or satisfied in your current career, it’s never too late to think about making a change and doing something about the calling into nursing that seems to be often on your mind. Here are some of the main things to consider when changing your career to nursing.
How to Study
First of all, it’s important to think about what you are going to do in order to get qualified as a nurse. You can enter the profession in several different ways, although some might be better than others in terms of long-term prospects, career security, and progression. You can become a licensed practical nurse with a vocational college program, but this nursing career is often the lowest-paid without a lot of opportunity for progression without working to get a nursing degree in the future.
An associate’s degree in nursing can get you into a career as a registered nurse, but with more and more employers looking for BSN-educated nurses today, this might also limit your career options and progression opportunities.
One of the best options for those who want to change their career to nursing is an ABSN program, which is designed to help you build on the skills and knowledge that you have already gained from a previous bachelor’s degree in any other subject. Unlike the traditional BSN program, these programs take around half the time to complete. You can find online BSN programs for non-nurses at Baylor University, offering faster and cheaper options for those looking to switch careers.
Studying Around Your Career
One of the most challenging parts of switching your current career to nursing is deciding how you are going to manage to study to become a nurse while in a situation where you may need to continue working full-time. While the best option might be to quit work and dedicate the next few years to becoming a nurse, this is not always a viable option for everybody, since most people have commitments that they need to uphold. Quitting work and studying for four years is likely going to only cause problems for you if you’ve got a mortgage to pay, for example. Thankfully, online learning is becoming increasingly popular for student nurses and is an ideal choice for career changers.
Many online nursing degree programs are very flexible and allow you to study in your own time based on your lifestyle and commitments. While you’ll need to get some on-the-job experience to qualify as a nurse, you can often choose when and where to attend lectures and classes based on what works for you, making it easier to continue working full- or part-time without becoming overwhelmed.
Paying for a Nursing Degree
Another major factor that you are likely to consider when it comes to changing your career to nursing is how you are going to pay for your nursing degree. This might be a concern if you are still repaying student loans from a previous bachelor’s degree, for example. The good news is that there are several options for financial aid that you can consider if you want to keep your debt levels as low as possible while changing your career.
If you already work for a healthcare employer in another role and want to switch to nursing and continue working with them, it’s worth looking into any tuition assistance programs that your employer might offer to help employees get into the careers that they want. And, the shortage of nurses in the US has led to an increase in the number of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options that are in place to encourage more people to enter this career path and start closing the gap between the numbers of nurses and patients who need them.
Your overall career goals are likely to drive some of the decisions that you make when getting started with changing your career to nursing. While working as a registered nurse is a great career goal to have, many might enter this industry with the hopes of moving even further up the ladder.
For example, if you know that you eventually want to work as a family nurse practitioner, you will need to keep this in mind when making certain decisions now, such as the degree program that you choose to get nursing. Or, if you know that you eventually want to work in a certain nursing specialty, this could help drive the decisions that you make when it comes to choosing elective modules or a degree program that will place more focus on a certain area of nursing in the later semesters.
Finally, another factor to consider when changing your career to nursing is making sure that you get the applicable license in the state where you want to practice as a registered nurse. Whether you decide to get into nursing with an associate’s degree, a BSN, or an accelerated BSN program, regardless of whether you study on-campus or online, you will need to pass the NCLEX exam after graduating in order to begin working as a nurse.
The sooner you begin preparing for this exam, the better. It might be worth considering taking mock NCLEX exams as you get closer to the end of your nursing degree, or taking additional classes to help you prepare for getting your registered nursing license.
Whether you have always wanted to be a nurse but never had the opportunity to study, or need a change from your current career and want to help others, there has never been a better time than the present to consider a career change to nursing.