Changing careers can be the best move you can make for your income and your sense of fulfillment. It’s unreasonable to ask that kids know what they want to do in their life and to choose the right path for them. They are still learning about themselves and, more importantly, they don’t know all there is that they can do with their career. Those who are ready to take on their second career are incredibly brave for doing so because it means shrugging off an ill-fitting role and finding one that truly helps them get the most out of their life and their career.
Changing careers can be a challenge even for those who don’t need specialized training. If you were recently inspired by a nurse or finally want to transfer your skills as a carer into a career where you can continue to do good, then this how-to guide is a great place to get started:
Understanding Your Career as a Nurse
There are many levels of nursing. At the lowest rung is the Certified Nursing Assistant. Then there is the Licensed Nurse Practitioner. The first nursing role that many think of when they hear the word nurse is that of the registered nurse.
There are two ways to become a registered nurse, though the first and older path is being phased out around the country and can restrict progression upwards unless you go and complete your BSN (albeit in a fast-tracked capacity).
This first way is with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. The ADN is one of the first degree options available to nurses in the 20th century, though today, RNs preferably have a full BSN degree.
Once you have worked as an RN for at least a year, you can then start to look into MSN and DNP degrees. You need to earn an MSN at the smallest to specialize and work as an advanced practice registered nurse. These nurses specialize either in one specific type of medicine and healthcare, like oncology, or they specialize in working with a specific demographic, like pediatrics.
What you can do as a nurse is wide and varied. You can work as a nurse quite simply wherever there is a budget for a healthcare team. As an APRN, you can even open your own practice or work autonomously, depending on your state.
Understanding where you can take your career and just how high up you can go makes a huge difference to successfully transitioning your career into nursing. As you already have a career, it is always going to be in your best interest to focus your efforts on becoming an RN right from the start. The only benefit of training to become a CNA or LPN is that you can work and earn a wage sooner, so it is a better fit for those who currently need work and cannot dedicate themselves to a full-time BSN.
How to Get Started with Your Nursing Career
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, then you can fast-track your efforts, particularly if you have already completed a STEM undergraduate degree and already have credits in a few essential prerequisite courses. If you don’t have these credits, don’t worry, as you can tackle them either all at once or can tackle them piece by piece while you continue to work and support yourself in your current role. As prerequisite credits cover a variety of topics designed to help you become a better communicator and nurse, however, you may find you have ticked some of the credit boxes even if you completed a humanities degree instead.
Once you have these prerequisite credits, you can then get started with Baylor University’s distance ABSN program. This program provides you with everything you need to know to pass the NCLEX (the state nursing exam) and also provides clinical placement to cover the in-person learning portion of your digital degree. By then completing this accredited, accelerated degree, you will be able to graduate and get started as an RN.
Where to Take Your Nursing Career
You will, in most situations, need to explore your interests and understand the level of work you can commit to. Some thrive in high-pressure situations and find their true purpose in an acute care ward or in the emergency wing. Others cannot handle the ongoing stress at all and thrive better understructure and order.
Don’t assume to know yourself, either. You will be surprised at what truly interests you or how long you can thrive in certain situations. Not only experience the best teacher, but you will also change as time goes on. By exploring your career options by working as an RN in a variety of departments and also listening to your body and wellbeing needs, you can learn more about what you want and need out of your nursing career.
From there, it is all about finding the right role that will help you engage with your professional interests daily and also help you enjoy a better work/life balance in a situation that fits you.
This may mean working within the healthcare sector your entire career. It may mean looking elsewhere to take your nursing career and education to a whole new level. You could, for example, work to become a nurse educator near the end of your career and then slow down while training up the next generation of nurses.
We could also work as a consultant or even open up our own practice. You can move to a rural area, work in telehealth, and so much more.
There is such a massive need for nurses that you are doing yourself and the people around you a disservice for not investigating what you want and need out of your nursing career. You deserve to thrive, and when you thrive, you will provide a better quality of care. It’s a win-win and how you will succeed in your second-career profession.