If you have been asking yourself if it is the right time to make a career switch, you should consider nursing as a second career. There are many facets of nursing that offer true satisfaction, such as the ability to help people who need care, as well as the professional stimulation of a career that blends science, emotional awareness, and a passion for doing good in the world.
Becoming a registered nurse (RN) offers a wide range of career opportunities. If you are the kind of person who enjoys working one-on-one with patients and interacting with a small cohort of peers and professionals, you might be happy working in a clinic, surgery center, or long-term care facility.
If you look forward to the challenge of working with a larger team or in a particular specialty, such as oncology or cardiology, a hospital setting might be best for you. Or you may be drawn to working in a community setting, such as a school or community health center, or as a home health care nurse. Whatever your goal, you can begin your career in any of these areas and see what best suits you.
Where Do I Begin?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you can pursue a second degree in nursing. But you won’t have to go through another four-year program — you can pursue an online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree that takes a little over a year to complete.
The program is called “accelerated” because students don’t have to take the general education requirements that they already completed for their first bachelor’s degree. This means you can apply a laser-like focus to nursing coursework that will prepare you for your new career. The University of Indianapolis offers this kind of program in its Distance Second-Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Is Nursing a Good Career?
Nursing is a great career choice. Besides some of the intangible benefits mentioned above, the country’s need for nurses is great and the number of available positions will be promising for years to come.
For more than a decade, healthcare professionals have been concerned about the growing nursing shortage. Some of the shortage is attributable to a large cohort of RNs who will be retiring. In addition, there is a growing number of older patients (baby boomers and Gen X-ers) who face both chronic and acute health concerns that require nursing care. Some experts have projected that over 1 million new nurses will be needed to avoid a serious shortage.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the total number of registered nursing positions to increase 9% by 2030, adding nearly 195,000 jobs per year. That will bring the number of RN positions in the U.S. from its current total of around 3 million to about 3.25 million.
What’s more, becoming a registered nurse pays. The BLS cites the national median salary for RNs to be $75,330 as of May 2020.
COVID-19 Has Furthered the Nursing Shortage
The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the need for qualified RNs. While some retired nurses have returned to work to help during the crisis, others have moved ahead with retirement plans or left nursing positions to care for family or because of burnout. Hospitals in areas with high COVID rates have been left short-staffed. Many more nurses are needed to fill these gaps.
Bachelor’s-Prepared Nurses are Primed for a Second Career
As demand for registered nurses continues to rise, so does the need for well-educated nurses with a solid academic grounding in evidence-based care. Nursing leaders have set goals to increase the number of RNs — especially those with bachelor’s degrees. Hospital administrators are concerned about maintaining nurse-to-patient ratios because having the right number of better-educated nurses leads to better patient outcomes.
Several studies cited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing show that patients who received care from nurses with bachelor’s degrees had lower in-hospital mortality rates and enjoyed a “substantial survival advantage.” The studies go on to say that BSN-educated nurses were “significantly better prepared than associate degree nurses on 12 out of 16 areas,” including quality and patient safety.
With more than 80,000 nursing professionals on staff, the Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest employer of nurses in the U.S. In all branches of the military, nurses are commissioned officers and must hold at least a BSN to be eligible for commission.
Although in most states nurse candidates can be certified as registered nurses with a two-year associate degree, more hospitals and other employers prefer RNs who have a BSN. According to Nurse.org, employers are looking for nurses who have the critical thinking skills, research skills, and leadership training that students receive during their baccalaureate education, and as a result, grant them higher average salaries. A nurse with a bachelor’s degree is also better prepared to advance into leadership positions within the health care system.
Making the Transition to a Second Career in Nursing
Prospective nursing school candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in another field and work experience bring certain advantages with them as they pursue an ABSN. First, they have experience studying at the university level. Next, their experiences in the workplace give them a certain maturity about how to work in a professional environment.
Students who bring that maturity and sense of professionalism to their education can be very successful as they pursue an ABSN online. These programs are designed to make students better nurses through comprehensive education in evidence-based clinical care and leadership. In broad brushstrokes, your education will:
- Give you foundational knowledge and skills in nursing science.
- Give you hands-on experiences with patients through clinical rotations.
- Prepare you to take (and pass) the NCLEX-RN examination, which is required for licensure as a registered nurse.
Selecting a High-Quality ABSN Program
If you are considering an online ABSN program, you should look closely at the program offered by the University of Indianapolis (UIndy). You will receive a top-tier nursing education from a university that celebrates all forms of diversity and thought and encourages its students to make a positive impact in society.
Here are some program themes that support UIndy’s nursing program:
- Foundational Nursing Science: Students are taught how to complete patient assessments using clinical reasoning, therapeutic communication, and cultural awareness.
- Holistic, Evidence-Based Care: Students develop competencies to manage care for patients across the life span with a range of acute, chronic, or complex conditions.
- Professional Role Development: Students learn leadership, management, and interprofessional collaboration skills that prepare them for working in teams and contribute to the advancement of nursing.
- Community Care and Service: By identifying public health needs and the health inequities that impact client outcomes, students learn to work in partnership with community members to improve health.
If you are interested in a university that offers comprehensive student support and a high level of student-faculty engagement, look to UIndy for a program that will propel you into an exciting new career.