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Last updated on January 25th, 2023 at 08:42 pm
Second careers are more than the chance to get it right, they’re the chance to turn a job into a vocation. Though nursing certainly has its difficult moments, and nursing as a whole (especially right now) can and will need to improve, it is also one of the most rewarding career paths out there.
The help that you can offer as a nurse is both small scale and large scale, allowing you to help make the world a better place one patient at a time.
There are also so many ways to customize your nursing career. What this means is that, even if you aren’t a good fit working in a high-stress situation like a hospital, you can find a great job that allows you to use your nursing background, guaranteed.
Whether you work in the healthcare sector or outside of it, whether you work for others or for yourself, nursing gives you options.
There are many reasons people turn to nursing as a career later on. You might have recently been hospitalized and been inspired by some incredible nurses. You might have always been interested in healthcare but didn’t realize how many unique ways there were to become a nurse and to customize your nursing career.
Second careers can be daunting, but you know so much more about yourself and what you want out of your life and your career. Done right and with emphasis on introspection and self-reflection, you can continue to make the right decisions for your future.
What Makes a Great Nurse?
There are more than enough roles available that everyone can find their place in nursing, but there are some traits that certainly make some better nurses than others.
If you don’t like caring for others, for example, or get squeamish around the unsanitary parts of the job, then there are other healthcare roles available that will be better suited for you if healthcare is your goal.
Great nurses are great carers. They also tend to have excellent communication skills, problem solving skills, and empathy. Nurses also need to be great at multi-tasking, staying calm in difficult situations, and have good attention to detail.
That is why parents make such excellent nurses, especially those who haven truly risen to the challenge of parenting. As a mom, if you’re looking to start a second career in nursing, know that raising your children is a great place to get started, and this guide will help you continue your journey.
How to Get Started with a Second Career in Nursing
There are many ways to get started with your second career in nursing. The best option for you will depend on your background and your needs.
If you don’t already have a degree in this field, your first step is going to be earning a bachelors degree in nursing. If you need to continue to work, then your options will be different, as you will likely need to look for a part-time or accelerated degree program that works around your existing schedule. You can also get your BS in nursing online, which can offer even more flexibility.
To help you get into nursing, here are a few of the most popular routes:
The accelerated BSN is available for those who already have a bachelor’s degree. To accelerate your BSN, you need to have several prerequisite courses under your belt, but the good news is that you don’t need to have completed all of them in your undergraduate.
What this means is that you can accelerate your nursing aspirations regardless of whether you have a STEM-based bachelor’s degree or one in any other field.
You will need to have completed the prerequisite courses before the start of the program, however. If you don’t have all of them, get in touch with an enrollment officer to be directed to where you can. You will have both local, in-person options and online options. You don’t need to have all of the credits completed to enroll, but they need to be finished by the start of the program.
You may be able to get away with similar credits as well. There are no guarantees, but always check in with an enrollment officer to see what prerequisites you still need, and what credits can be transferred.
The MSN is typically the minimum requirement to become an APRN. With direct-entry MSNs, however, you work towards your RN qualification and a non-nurse specialization.
One of the top options today, for example, allows you to earn a Certified Nursing Leadership certification. This CNL certification makes you more prepared to work in leadership and policy roles.
This is ideal for those who want to provide greater change to nursing and healthcare as a whole. Leading and managing nurses requires a different approach than specializing in oncology, and we need more trained nurses in leadership roles to inspire lasting change in the industry.
It’s important to stress that while you won’t be an APRN, you will graduate and be able to become an RN. The difference between the accelerated BSN vs MSN direct entry program is that this MSN also allows you to have a CNL certification, and is ideal for those who want to quickly transition their second career in nursing into a high-ranking nursing role.
Part-Time vs Full-Time Education
The best way to transition into a second career in nursing is with a full-time degree. A direct-entry MSN can, after all, allow you to become an RN with a CNL certification in 20 months.
If you are already working and don’t want or cannot take the time off, however, then there are part-time online BSN degrees available. These are designed for those who already work in healthcare and are therefore able to juggle work and study.
When it comes to your education you will also have the choice between online and on-campus education. There will always be clinical hour requirements, and most online universities include on-campus days (around three, typically); however, you will almost always benefit from choosing an online provider instead.
Choose an online degree, and you will be able to choose the best program available and be able to save on living and moving costs. Those looking to start their second career often already have their lives set up and don’t want to move or make big changes to their personal life–and an online degree is perfect in that case.
Take Your Time
With so many options, both in your personal life and also in your career, it can be easy to misstep. This is already your second career, so it can feel like there is even more pressure to get it right. The good news is that no matter what area you specialize in, there are ways to customize your career and find a good fit.
The only thing you need to worry about is choosing the area of medicine you are most interested in, or alternatively, the demographic you want to help the most.
Perhaps you have a loved one who experienced a bad care situation in a mental health clinic or who needs mental health services. You could then focus on mental health as your specialization.
There are four main types of APRNs. There are nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and also nurse midwives. Even with these four types, there are many sub specializations to choose from as well.
So long as you are academically interested in the area of medicine you specialize in or have a passion for the group that you want to focus on (family, children, women, the elderly, and so on) you can’t go wrong. You can work in clinical settings, in emergency settings, in private settings, and even outside of the care sector.
There are ways forward as well. If you need to specialize in a new role there are post-master’s certifications. There are also further education options that can open up your career to new roles. You could earn an MENP or a DNP and be better prepared to take a leadership role.
Healthcare is a vast field and it is only growing. Telehealth is set to change healthcare and nursing as we know it, and its future means many new opportunities for nurses, and those looking to become nurses in the next few years.
In short, if you want to pursue a second career in nursing, you have a bright future ahead of you. With so many directions to take your career, you can stay in control and enjoy working in a position that keeps you feeling fulfilled.How to Get Started with a Second Career in Nursing | #nursing #nurses #education Click To Tweet
Advancing Your Nursing Career
Being a registered nurse can be a fulfilling job, especially when you keep your options open and explore the different roles and responsibilities as a nurse that there are available to you. This exploration can be just what you need to make the right decisions moving forward, and it can actually help you earn more.
Travel nurses typically make more than their full-time counterparts, because they work to fill roles that are desperately empty. This puts travel nurses in a greater negotiating position, and also allows you to learn more about yourself and what you want to do with your nursing career.
Travel nursing recruiters work with healthcare facilities with a high demand for nurses and are willing to pay to reach adequate staffing levels. These factors are why a travel nurses’ salary is significantly higher than the average, although the salary varies depending on the state and the medical setting. Some travel nursing agencies even offer their nurses’ benefits packages, including health, life insurance, or retirement planning.
Once you decide what path you want to follow, however, you will want to start looking at MSN options. Just as there are different options to earn your BSN, there are different paths to help you earn your MSN. You can either focus just on your MSN, or you can do it all and go for a doctorate degree, which includes MSN-level credits.
Going for your doctorate can be ideal if you want to work in a leadership position. This could be in a hospital, or it can be in your own clinic (depending on the role and also the state you live in).
Advancing your career is the single best way to put yourself in a position to take control of your future. With a higher qualification you can find excellent job offers both within and outside of healthcare, allowing you to always make the best step forward.
Understanding Your Non-Nursing Career Options
Priorities do change. While a decade or more of working within healthcare can be the perfect fit for you in your second career, it may not be the perfect fit forever. Perhaps you get older, perhaps something in your personal life changes, and you need to adapt your career to fit your work better with your life. There are so many reasons why you will want to change tracks, and to give yourself the best chance at finding the next dream job you need to know your options.
Telehealth and new roles are going to be changing nursing within healthcare, but those aren’t the only roles you should keep your eye on. Knowing where you can take your career outside of the health sector can allow you to continually make the best decision for yourself and your family. If you want to get out of healthcare, then you need to know where you can use your nursing experience to continue to help others–just in different ways.
You can work as part of special projects, for example. From construction, to movie sets, to theme parks, there are so many businesses and projects that need on-site healthcare and at the very least nurses to be a part of their health and safety team as consultants. You can provide that essential care and expertise almost anywhere.
You can work in policy, and help nurses everywhere get better support and improve their own quality of care. You can work in education and train the next generation of nurses.
There are so many ways that you can transition your nursing experience outside of nursing if you ever need to, and knowing your options will help you make better, more confident decisions about the next step of your career. If you want to slow down there are options. If you are bored with your current workplace there are always new, exciting places to transition.
Your second career in nursing is going to be a great one, so long as you make the best decision for your interests and your needs. From choosing the right program to choosing the right job, with the flexibility and importance of nursing you will always have options available.
Are you studying for a second career in nursing, or are you thinking about it? Leave us a comment below.
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