Second-Degree Nursing Programs Can Lead to Your First (Career) Love

Ever since you graduated college, you’ve put your degree to work in your field.

Whether it’s been one year or 25 years, that job was your first step into professional life.

But the reward isn’t entirely satisfying.

Sure, you’re helping your company thrive thanks to the time, energy and hard work you’ve put in. But now you’d love to actually help people rather than hustle to hit a revenue goal again this quarter.

Sound familiar?

For a number of nurses, their story sounds a lot like yours, thanks to second-degree nursing programs.

These programs are designed for professionals with bachelor’s degrees in other areas to enter nursing practice. And it’s not as difficult as you may think.

Second-degree nursing path appeals to many pros

No matter what area of study your first bachelor’s degree is in, second-degree nursing programs can be a good fit for those wanting to change careers.

They offer an untraditional, but important, entry point into the nursing field.

Numerous professions provide a logical transition to caring for patients after completing a second-degree nursing program. Here are a few examples:

  • Teachers: Compassion for students in the classroom — and for families in general — goes a long way when it comes to caring for patients.
  • EMTs: The EMT to RN path is a common one among medical professionals. EMTs have a strong knowledge of patient care, experience in the medical field and knowledge of how their local hospitals and healthcare systems operate.
  • Military members: The fast pace and quick decision-making skills make areas such as the emergency department a popular spot for veterans who leave the service.
  • Social workers: Helping vulnerable populations, such as children and families, is a common thread that translates into nursing. Some social workers already work in hospital settings as well.
  • Psychologists: Their understanding of human behaviors and observation skills are important when it comes to caring for patients and dealing with family members.
  • Various hospital jobs: Working around nurses has led professionals in housekeeping, tech jobs and those on a hospital’s business side into nursing.
  • Other professions: Whether they work in finance, real estate, insurance or any other profession, some feel that they are called to nursing. For many, inspiration occurs when they see nurses care for an ill friend or family member. Others, however, may have been a patient at one time and received exemplary care from nurses. That alone is enough to be a major draw for nursing.

Columbia University in New York City profiled several students in its nursing program. Their first acts before nursing were as a farmer, restaurant manager, opera singer, actor and veterinary technician.

Nurses also have become entrepreneurs, inventing products, serving as legal nurse consultants, health coaches or bloggers and freelance healthcare writers.

As you can tell, nursing is truly a melting pot of many backgrounds and has bountiful opportunities.

What are nursing’s benefits?

So why exactly would people in dozens of professions find the nursing field appealing? The reasons are as varied as nurses’ career paths. Here are five great reasons:

  1. Flexibility: Though 60% of jobs nationwide are in the hospital setting, nurses also work in clinics, offices, community settings and schools. They also can work in unique places such as cruise ships, colleges and universities, national parks, major corporations and of course as travel nurses that work around the globe. That flexibility extends to the specialties that nurses choose, which can include diabetes care, hospice settings, health coaching, gerontology, medical-surgical, informatics and dozens more.
  2. Compensation: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average nursing salary in the U.S. as of May 2018 was $75,510 per year, well above the average of all professions ($51,960). While many nurses won’t make that much directly out of nursing school, the profession allows for roles that can pay more than $100,000, such as nursing leadership, nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners. Salary also depends on location. A Forbes magazine report noted that nurses in California ($106,950), Hawaii ($98,080) and Massachusetts ($92,140) are the most well compensated in the nation.
  3. Abundance of jobs: A 2017 report in the Journal of Nursing Regulation estimated that 1 million registered nurses will retire by 2030 because of the aging population of baby boomers in the U.S. The research, led by famed nursing workforce expert Peter Buerhaus, said nursing jobs will grow 15% by 2026 — a total of 438,100 jobs. That’s a lot of employment opportunities for new nurses. To fill new nursing jobs and replace retiring nurses, BLS estimates the profession will need an additional 203,770 new RNs through 2026 to keep up with the need.
  4. Satisfaction: Nursing has its stressful moments, but students from second-degree nursing programs will find satisfaction delivering care and using critical-thinking skills to help patients improve their health.
  5. Translatable skills: Along with critical thinking, nurses rely greatly on communication and problem solving – skills that are important for nearly every profession. Nurses also are known for a calm attitude in crisis situations and a commitment to lifelong learning as new technologies and treatment protocols arise.

And if you don’t work in a hospital providing bedside care, nursing has numerous roles to fill your interests. Nurses also work in the insurance industry, law firms, education settings, government institutions, pharmaceutical companies and research labs.

Steps toward nursing

Pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing will require some additional schooling in a second-degree nursing program.

The good news? Second-degree programs exist across the country — in online and in-person settings — and offer plenty of different paths.

The most likely is to a BSN, which provides a path to caring for patients in two years or less. Having a degree in another subject makes professionals from other industries eligible for fast-track nursing programs, which can be completed in as little as 11 months.

Numerous schools don’t require professionals to get a second bachelor’s degree for their Master of Science in Nursing accelerated programs, which are full-time commitments that often take 24 months to complete. A master’s degree can help nurses advance more easily into nursing leadership positions.

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