Changing careers can be the best move you can make for your income and your sense of fulfillment. It’s unreasonable to ask kids to know what they want to do and choose the right path. They are still learning about themselves, and, more importantly, they don’t know all they can do with their career. Those 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 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 start looking 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 in one specific type of medicine and healthcare, like oncology, or working with a particular demographic, like pediatrics.
What you can do as a nurse is wide and varied. You can work as a nurse wherever there is a budget for a healthcare team. As an APRN, you can open your practice or work autonomously, depending on your state.
Understanding where you can take your career and how high up you can go makes a huge difference in successfully transitioning into nursing. As you already have a job, it will always be in your best interest to focus 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
Suppose you already have a bachelor’s degree. In that case, you can fast-track your efforts, mainly if you have completed a STEM undergraduate degree and credits in a few introductory prerequisite courses. If you don’t have these credits, don’t worry; you can tackle them all at once or tackle them piece by piece while you continue to work and support yourself in your current role. As prerequisite credits cover various topics designed to help you become a better communicator and nurse, you may have ticked some of the credit boxes even if you completed a humanities degree instead.
Once you have these prerequisite credits, you can start 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 offers clinical placement to cover the in-person learning portion of your digital degree. By completing this accredited, accelerated degree, you can graduate and get started as an RN.
Where to Take Your Nursing Career
You will 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 the emergency wing. Others cannot handle the ongoing stress and thrive better under structure and order.
There are enough nursing positions and enough need for nurses around the country that you can and need to find the perfect balance. It is how you will get the most out of your career, and it is how you will find true happiness and fulfillment.
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 will you 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 well-being needs, you can learn more about what you want and need out of your nursing career.
From there, it is all about finding the proper 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.
It may mean working within the healthcare sector your entire career. It may mean looking elsewhere to take your nursing career and education to a new level. You could work to become a nurse educator near the end of your job and then slow down while training the next generation of nurses.
We could also work as a consultant or open up our practice. You can move to a rural area, work in telehealth, and more.
There is such a huge 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 better care. It’s a win-win and how you will succeed in your second-career profession.