Paths into Nursing: Start Your Second Career Today
If you want a job that allows you to make a significant difference for the quality of life for others, choose nursing. If you want to save lives and help, give people a happy ending, choose nursing. If you want to make a real difference for society and humanity as a whole, choose nursing.
Nursing is consistently considered one of the best jobs and is also considered one of the most trustworthy professions in the world. People trust nurses, they rely on nurses, and despite common belief nurses can earn a very healthy wage.
Nurses don’t even need to work within clinics or hospitals. You can actually work almost anywhere, so long as the company in question has the budget to bring on their own healthcare worker. You can work on movie sets, at sports games, at concerts, and more. You can work alongside the most vulnerable communities or privately for your own set of clients.
There is no shortage of opportunities, especially with the rise in telehealth and the nursing shortage. If you have what it takes to be a nurse and are interesting in helping others (and of course have a healthy passion for medicine and the sciences) then changing your career into nursing can be one of the best decisions, you will ever make in your life.
Nursing in 2021
Nursing is the backbone of healthcare and one of the most important job roles in the world, period, which being said, it is facing serious shortages around the world, with even further shortages expected in the future as existing nurses start to retire.
Around the world there will be an estimated 6 million nursing roles unfilled, with most of these unfilled roles due to nurses retiring by the end of the decade. Though this can seem daunting, it does mean that governments around the world are galvanizing. Not only is the role of the nurse set to change as it works to include a greater number of specializations including telehealth, but the shortage also means it is one of the easiest careers to find work in.
Many nurses find jobs immediately, and 88% of nurses will find a job within six months of earning their license. That sort of job security is rare to find in most other job roles, and that is within healthcare settings. You can expand your job search outside of healthcare roles and find work almost anywhere, which means you can do more than just help people; you can also pursue your secondary passions as well.
Nursing Job Satisfaction
Nursing isn’t all about the security, either. Multiple nurse roles make the top of the list for job satisfaction. Family Nurse Practitioners, for example, are in the top five job roles in healthcare and in the top four of jobs overall. FNPs aren’t the only role to make the top of the list, either, or there are new roles opening up all the time.
One of the newest roles for nurses is as the Clinical Nurse Leader, which is different than a Clinical Nurse Specialist. This new role in healthcare will put you as a care team leader, one who works to improve the health and safety for patients, and as a result improve patient outcomes overall. They work to continually improve health care processes, and work to boost care coordination, transitions, and more. Their work is improving healthcare not just for patients, but for healthcare workers as a whole.
New roles like this are only set to increase as healthcare diversifies and becomes more accessible for a greater number of people, including those who live rurally. With so many unique opportunities, you are sure to find a nursing role that you are extremely satisfied with.
Nursing Job Opportunities
One of the best news about nursing is that, as a highly qualified nurse, you have ample opportunities in terms of where you work. Nurses are need in many different industries, so if you find that working within healthcare isn’t for you then you can easily move into a different industry and working environment.
There are many, many ways that you can customize your nursing career, meaning that transitioning your second career into nursing doesn’t mean you pin yourself down to one single job, or one single working environment.
You can work within a variety of healthcare settings, from clinics, to care homes, to hospitals, and even privately.
You can also work as a nurse in a variety of big industries, like entertainment. Nurses are needed on hand for research expeditions, on film and television crews, and at big events.
Nurses are also needed in education, policy-making, and more. You can use what you know as a nurse to then help from a top-down approach, and work to improve patient care and nurse work/life balance overall.
You aren’t even forced into one state. Thanks to the nurse licensure compact, which has expanded into the enhanced nurse licensure compact, you can likely move with freedom to a whole new state, or work as a travel nurse, all without needing to sit the state exam. You can, of course, only do this within participating states, which means this option does depend on where you are currently located, but the good news is that majority of states are within the eNLC, and even more are pending legislation.
Specializations in Nursing
Nursing isn’t a static role, either. You can specialize in a great variety of different areas of health and patients.
Overall there are four main types of APRNs, but the number of individual roles is massive. That Clinical Nurse Leader role, for example, exists outside of the APRN four main specialties, and yet puts you in a key position of authority.
Add in telehealth, and new and branching areas of health, and you have an untold number of opportunities available to you. To specialize you typically need to have the right MSN, but there are post-graduate certificates, diplomas, and more that allow you to further specialize and learn new areas of medicine and theory.
Continuing to learn and specialize further isn’t just something you should be doing for your career. In many states, continuing your training is actually a requirement in order to get your nursing license renewed. This isn’t always the case, of course; in some states you simply need to work so many hours as a nurse in a healthcare setting instead.
Though it isn’t always a requirement, furthering your training and delving deeper into your interests will allow you to become a unique specialist that allows you to not just follow a career, but take charge.
Paths into Nursing
There are three main paths into nursing as a non-nurse.
Work and Study within Nursing
If your career change into nursing isn’t so much a second career, but more a shift from one minimum-wage job into nursing, then you can start working in healthcare in just a few short weeks by getting started as a Certified Nursing Assistant. You cannot move up the career ladder of nursing, of course, unless you achieve yet another diploma or degree, and then pass the exam.
Though there is not additional benefit or shortcut to earning your BSN or becoming an RN by starting from the bottom in nursing, it does put you directly into the industry and gives you more time to learn what you care about and are passionate about as a nurse, meaning you may have a better idea on where you want your career to go as you work and continue to study.
If you currently already have a career, and have progressed a significant way, then you won’t want to start at the bottom with a minimum-wage position. Instead, you will want to go for an accelerated BSN, or a direct-entry MSN which are specifically designed for non-nurses.
The accelerated BSN does require prerequisite courses. If you took science and health-related credits as part of your existing bachelor’s, then you may already have what you need. Otherwise, you will need to take these prerequisite credits in advance at a local college or university.
If you don’t currently have a bachelor’s, then another option you can take is to earn the full BSN as a full-time student. This option can be ideal if you are just starting your career, and don’t have any financial responsibilities that will require you to work.
Direct Entry MSN
If you have the chance to commit to a full-time degree, after already having a bachelor’s under your belt, then one of the best ways to really dive into your career as a nurse is with a direct entry MSN. These direct entry MSN degrees are still very new, but once completed you will be a licensed NCLEX-RN and CNL (certified nurse leader), giving you a unique opportunity to get started with a fairly high-paying career that is in-demand, and makes a big difference.
These direct-entry MSNs don’t need you to be a nurse in advance and can be completed in 20 months full time. Though all coursework is done online, there is a two-week residency you need to be there for in-person, and also a local clinical experience you need to complete before you graduate.
As with all the top nursing degrees, clinical placement is stress-free and mostly managed on your behalf, so that you can work and learn at a location near where you live.
There are prerequisites for such a degree. All students need to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited US college or university and hold a 3.2 GPA minimum. You will also need prerequisite credits in Anatomy and Physiology (I & II), General Chemistry with Lab, Microbiology with Lab, and Intro to Psychology or Sociology.
If you don’t have these prerequisite courses, don’t worry, as the admissions team can help you plan out your next steps and help you successfully obtain these credits that would then allow you to delve right into a direct MSN degree.
Choosing Your Nursing College
Choosing the right nursing college can make a huge difference when it comes to setting yourself up for success. Regardless of whether you want to tackle the transition part-time, or full-time, you want your college to offer these key characteristics:
- Choosing the Right Specialization
- Guidance on Acquiring Perquisite Courses
- Ongoing Support and Advice
- Stress-Free Clinical Placement
- In-Person Residency
- The right accreditation for your state
Investigate further by finding reviews and testimonies from graduates, and also checking alumni to see where they are working now. If there is one alumnus in particular that is doing what you want to be doing as a nurse, get in touch as ask them for advice.
How to Succeed in Becoming a Nurse
Nursing can be the perfect career change for you but make no mistake there will be stressful periods. It is not just something you need to prepare for in order to succeed, it is critical for your health and wellbeing. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of nursing staff more than any other instance in history, and yet burnout and compassion fatigue are at all-time highs.
You need to care for your mental health and wellbeing as a nurse, and the best time to practice and develop the coping strategies that will help you care for yourself, so you can care for others, is while you are transitioning into nursing. Though it is exceptionally unlikely the coronavirus will disappear, there is hope that the pandemic and the influx of patients will subside by the time you are fully certified. Just because this is the likely scenario, there is no guarantee something similar won’t happen again in the future, or that the nursing shortage won’t cause strain.
You have a right to a healthy work/life balance, but you also need to take initiative and have a working strategy to stay healthy and well, so start during your education and continue using those strategies to help improve your nursing abilities and to help further your career, no matter which direction it takes you.