I recently graduated with a bachelors degree in neuroscience. I have now decided I would like to become a pediatric nurse, but I would like some advice on how to go about it. I realize I would have to complete several prerequisites and retake courses to improve my GPA before even applying to nursing school. I would plan on taking courses at a community college or state school. After completing these prerequisites, should I apply to an accelerated BSN program and then pursue my masters? Or should I find an online program to become an RN, then complete a masters program in a traditional classroom setting? Are there any other suggestions on ways I can go about becoming a pediatric nurse?
Deciding Between a BSN and MSN
Dear Donna replies:
Dear Deciding Between a BSN and MSN,
The quickest way for you to become an RN at this point would be to enter an accelerated BSN program. Once you graduate and start working, you can certainly pursue a masters degree then and may even get some tuition reimbursement from your employer. Online degree programs are fine once you become an RN, but dont bother with any online entry-to-practice programs as these are usually not recognized by state boards of nursing.
Your other option, if you dont mind taking a few extra years to become an RN, would be to do the MSN as entry to practice. Some nurses have taken that path. But since you typically have to choose a concentration in nursing for your masters program, some nurses feel they would rather work as an RN for a few years first to get a better handle on which direction they want to go in their careers. I understand that you are focused on pediatric nursing, but sometimes once you are in the workplace (and even during nursing school), you discover other avenues, giving you a different perspective. From that vantage point, starting out with the BSN route may be the way to go. The choice is yours.
Once you become a student nurse, you should join the Society of Pediatric Nurses (www.pedsnurses.org) as a student member because of your interest in that specialty. You should also join the National Student Nurses Association (www.nsna.org).
You may find this article helpful to finance your nursing education:
Master the scholarship game (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Scholarship-Game).