Do you have doubts about finding a high-paying job with flexible work hours when you graduate? Have you ever contemplated a career in nursing?
If you enjoy helping others and you are passionate about serving your community and interacting with people daily, then nursing could be a good career choice for you.
It does not matter whether you are a young school leaver or a middle-aged professional. It does not matter whether you are male or female. As long as you are looking for a career path, making a switch to nursing can open up an amazing window of opportunity for graduates.
The workforce is currently facing numerous challenges, including but not limited to the following:
- Large numbers of the aging population
- Mass retirement of registered nurses
- Depleted number of physicians
- Increasing patient loads
- Emerging new diseases
- Public healthcare reforms
With increasing strain on the healthcare system comes the demand for healthcare professionals. Nurses are at the forefront of the battle to save the healthcare system. As such, the demand for registered nurses (RNs) has hit an all-time high. In the United States alone, the need for RNs is projected to grow proportionately by no less than 12 percent, which offers current graduates an opportunity to tap into this lucrative environment.
It is never too late to get projected on the right career path. With nursing, there are several ways to get enrolled in an accredited program. The traditional track is for students pursuing their first undergraduate nursing degree. The accelerated second-degree track is for students who have their first degree in a non-nursing field. The online degree completion track is for working RNs who wish to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The nursing honors program is for students who want to pursue a postgraduate degree.
It can be a challenging exercise having to decide which pathway to follow. Stakeholders in the American Holistic Nurses Association emphasize the need for prospective students to continually ask questions, do more research, and know exactly what they want from the nursing career they intend to pursue.
Students who want to pursue nursing as a second career should consider the top accelerated nursing programs which have been introduced by some schools. These programs offer students the opportunity to finish their coursework online in as little as a year and gain clinical skills in the hospital environment for 2 weeks.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses have a higher employment rate compared to other occupations, with a 7 percent growth expected in the next 10 years. CNN reports that many individuals are choosing nursing as a second career, making accelerated programs an even more popular choice.
In her appraisal of nursing practices in the U.S., Lyndsey Reid of Business Insider was emphatic in her claim that nursing is, “one of the most satisfying, in-demand, secure, and overall best jobs in healthcare”.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing estimated that there were at least 282 accelerated BSN programs in the country in 2018, with a minimum of 30 in the development stages.
The fast-track nature of the accelerated nursing programs makes it easy for prospective students to make a quick transition to the nursing career. These programs are helpful in many ways:
- Flexible schedules that allow students to maintain a delicate work-life balance
- Intensive training that meets the demands of quality nursing education, preparing students for a career in healthcare
- Combination of online learning and on-campus activities, ensuring that students get the best of both worlds
- Clinical exposure and hands-on preparation for the professional licensing exams
- Recognition by employers, providing assurances to graduates that jobs are virtually secured upon completion of the degree program.
As you contemplate whether this fast-track route to becoming a qualified nurse is right for you, bear in mind the following:
1. No previous nursing experience required
While prospective students need a bachelor’s degree in any field to be eligible for admission into an accelerated nursing program, no nursing or health-related education or prior work experience is required.
Experience in other fields could help shape your new nursing career. Whether your first degree is in languages, literature, or religion, you can apply your knowledge to the ever-changing world of nursing.
Any essential academic or workplace skills you already picked up in pursuit of your original degree can be put to use in your nursing career. Skills like reading, writing, document use, numeracy, oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking, digital technology, and continuous learning can be used in practically every job, irrespective of the levels of complexity. They can serve as the foundation for learning other skills in the nursing field and help you adapt to the new role and advance in the job. Your skills and experience may give you an edge over other students as you make steady progress in your nursing career, and they may ultimately pave the way for you in your job search.
There are many students without nursing knowledge who have been enrolled in the accelerated nursing program, so the fear of being alone will not even arise. You can feel confident in your abilities to learn as you meet people from diverse places and cultural backgrounds.
2. You have done it before
Remember you already have a degree in hand. You have been a student before, and this new experience should not get you intimidated. See it as a test of how quickly you can adapt to changes. If you have worked before using your original degree, it should count as experience. It means you have managed to work with people before, and so you know how to deal with daily life stressors such as commuting between work and home, as well as unexpected events, such as an unexpected work deadline. You have gone down this road before, so this challenge should not be too difficult to overcome.
A student without your wealth of experience will find it hard to navigate between school, family, and work. Add to that the stress of learning to be a qualified nurse. You hold the four aces, and you really should be proud of how far you have come. Taking on this new challenge of changing your career path should not be considered a setback. Knowing where you are coming from, you should realize that where you are going is closer than you think.
3. Degree is versatile
While it is possible to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) within 18 to 24 months, research has shown that the BSN is more versatile. Both pathways lead graduating students towards passing the National Council License Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), a licensing exam required for all practicing nurses. BSN programs place a greater emphasis on topics like research, public health, leadership, and informatics. Students engage in clinical rotations in community and public health settings, covering relevant courses in nursing education.
The Institute of Medicine’s report The Future of Nursing recommended that at least 80 percent of nurses should have acquired a BSN by 2020. This places BSN students at a distinct advantage over ADN-qualified nurses in a job search for a promising RN position.
Due to the peculiar nature of their training, nurses with a BSN degree have a higher tendency to secure top leadership and management positions in the field.
4. More credibility, more earnings
Nursing is an ever-advancing field, with new systems and methods for treating patients being discovered regularly. There is always room for improvement, as the priority has always been to advance patient care.
With a more grounded theoretical background, there is no doubt that nurses with a BSN degree are better placed to deliver quality healthcare and meet patient needs.
Nurses with a BSN degree are also guaranteed a more rewarding financial package. According to PayScale nurses with a BSN degree earn $14,000 more than the mean salary of nurses with an ADN degree with the same experience.
5. A most lucrative field
The US is experiencing a shortage of nurses. As such, there has never been a better time to get relevant training in the field.
The horizon keeps widening for registered nurses:
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the outlook for RN jobs to grow by 15 percent in the next 20 years – that is more than double the average for all occupations across the US.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs typically earned an average salary of $77,460 in 2019.
- Despite the demanding nature of the career, an astonishing 83 percent of nurses report overall high job satisfaction levels.
If you are considering changing careers to something more impactful, you should not think twice about becoming a nurse. You can save time, energy, and resources by choosing to avoid the traditional degree program. After all, you already have your original bachelor’s degree. Get on board the accelerated nursing program and open the doors to limitless opportunities in a faster time than the traditional route.