Starting a second career is a big step in any person’s life, but it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. There are many ways that you can fast-track your efforts and get started working as a fully qualified RN before you know it.
There are even tips that will help you keep up that momentum so that you can really smash through your goals and get to where you want to be in that second career sooner, and more efficiently than you thought possible.
1. Identify Why You Want To Be A Nurse
Nursing is not for everyone. It is as much a vocation as it is a profession, and while wanting to work as a nurse for the potential salary some roles offer is perfectly acceptable, you need to be aware of the work that you will need to go through before you reach that stage, and be willing to go through with it. Nurses frequently experience higher rates of burnout and stress than other professions.
This has been exacerbated because of the pandemic, yes, but in general working with patients requires high levels of patience and compassion. Many who are drawn to nursing as a potential career path are natural carers and have worked with others in a health or medical-related capacity in the past.
Some simply enjoy the stability that nursing offers. Regardless of what part of nursing appeals to you, you must be aware of the pitfalls. Weigh the nursing cons that matter most to you against why you want to be a nurse, and if you are still committed then move on to the second step.
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2. Understand The Nurse Career Path
Nursing is at once a straightforward career and, at the same time, incredibly difficult to progress through. This is because you must earn a degree or further your credentials before you can add on additional responsibilities or move up from working as an RN to an APRN.
There is no working up the career path in the traditional sense you have become accustomed to, even when it comes to leadership options. You cannot work your way from being a licensed nurse practitioner to a registered nurse. You will always need to earn that BSN.
This does mean that those who are looking to start a second career in nursing are not as far off as they may feel.
To become a certified nurse assistant you will need to train for a few weeks on a registered course and take a test. To become a licensed nurse practitioner you will need around 6 months of education before you can take the exam and earn your license.
To become a registered nurse you will need to either earn an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor of science in nursing. If you already have a degree under your belt or want to fast-track your nursing career, you will want to opt for the BSN route, as you won’t be able to progress further with an ADN until you have earned that BSN qualification.
This is because every MSN program requires you to have a BSN and to have worked as a licensed RN for a certain period of time (usually one year). By going directly for the BSN you can streamline your second career.
3. Know What You Can Do With A Nursing Background
You don’t need to have your entire nursing career plotted out before you start your nursing career. Not only does this put a lot of pressure on you, but chances are also actually working in a healthcare environment is going to impact what you want out of your career.
Add in the fact that many people have career goal shifts when their priorities change and how long it can take to reach the apex of your career in nursing, and you will start to see that plotting out every move of your career this early is both not necessary and not helpful.
While you won’t want to make any sort of concrete decisions for your career just yet it is powerful to know your options.
Knowing your options and what you can do with a nursing degree not just within healthcare can help you feel confident in pursuing the degree in the first place, even if you end up taking your nursing credentials outside of healthcare as a whole and working privately later on.
Read up on what you can do with a nursing degree and take note of the options that sound most interesting to you. After you earn your degree you will want to explore these career options first-hand, so that you can get the most out of your second career from the start.
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4. Earn An Accelerated Nursing Degree
If you have already completed an undergraduate degree in the past then chances are you can transfer credits towards your BSN and accelerate it. Accelerated degrees do come in a variety of shapes and forms, but if you really wanted to make the accelerated part mean something you will want to find full-time online nursing degrees for non nurses.
These degrees can be completed in around 1 year and teaches its students with an intensive program that uses online study tools and clinical, in-person learning experiences to train the next generation of nurses faster and more efficiently than in the past.
In order to qualify for this degree, you will need to have a few prerequisite courses under your belt. There are quite a few you will need in order to qualify, which is why this option is of particular use to those who have completed a STEM undergraduate program in the past.
Prerequisites include specialist credits like microbiology and anatomy & physiology I and II. You will also need other prerequisites in non-STEM subjects, like History and English. If you don’t have all of these prerequisites you may be able to earn them independently, especially if you are only missing a few.
Accelerating your degree is the best way to cut down on the time it takes to start your career as a nurse, especially if you have most if not all of the prerequisite courses. For those that don’t have an undergraduate degree, however, don’t worry.
You can either continue in your current career and then earn a BSN part-time around your work, or you can commit to your BSN full-time in an intensive program to graduate sooner.