4 Things to Know if You’re Considering Nursing as a Second Career

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Second-career nurses are known for their ability to interact with patients.

Do you currently work in another field, but dream of becoming a nurse? Nursing is a career that offers fulfillment hard to find in many other jobs. And, it’s an in-demand profession, with the need for qualified nurses continuing to grow.

Embarking on a new career after you’ve already spent time building one can sound scary. But making a change to nursing may be easier than you imagine. Here are four things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of making the switch.

1. You’ll have great job prospects

And there’s no need to worry about job security. If anything, new nursing graduates with more years of life experience are in even higher demand than their younger counterparts. They tend to have approached their nursing education more seriously and with higher academic standards, and are notably proactive in seeking out clinical opportunities.

Employers value the additional skills they bring from previous careers, because those skills enhance their abilities as nurses. Experience in the corporate world, or in education, or in the nonprofit sector, for example, can all improve a nurse’s ability to interact with their patients. Skills like communication, stress management, and organization factor heavily into success in nursing, and employers are eager to hire nurses who already possess them.

2. You’re in good company

Although starting from scratch can seem tough, you’re unlikely to feel lonely or isolated starting out as a nurse. That’s because choosing nursing as a second career is actually pretty common. It’s a role many people feel drawn to, especially when they’ve grown burnt out or have felt unfulfilled by their earlier professions.

And according to recent data, 45 percent of registered nurses are age 50 or older, so you won’t feel out of place based on age. Ageism also tends to have less of a foothold in nursing as it does in other professions — that’s in part because registered nurses all have equal standing.

3. You’ll get there quickly

Many fast-track programs are available that let you get licensed and starting to work within as little as a year, depending on how much education you’re starting with and what type of nursing degree you’re working on.

An accelerated MSN can be done in three years or less.

For most of these, the primary requirement is having already completed an accredited non-nursing bachelor’s or graduate-level degree. And these programs aren’t rare — according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, accelerated nursing degree programs are available in 46 states.

It’s important to know that help is available. There are educational programs — and scholarships to help you afford them — that make the transition less daunting.

4. Tons of help is available to get started

To get started, check out the association’s tips about accelerated programs, broken down by degree. And make note of tips from others who have made similar transitions.

Many later-in-life nurses suggest rallying family behind you, and making sure you have a support system that sets you up for success. They report that younger nurses already in the field are extremely helpful, offering tips and learning moments on the job.

Finally, reach out to nurses you know personally, to hear their stories — it’s likely they too had previous careers before they decided to pursue their nursing dreams.

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