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Nursing As A Second Career

5 min readMay, 19 2023

Pursuing a second career in the nursing profession has plenty of advantages. Many professionals choose nursing as a second career because of the personal fulfillment that comes with helping others and making a difference. But there are many other benefits to being a nurse, such as job security, flexibility, and excellent pay. And with a broad spectrum of specializations, there's a career path for everyone.

There's always the need for more nurses to enter the workforce. Even if you currently work full-time or have personal responsibilities, plenty of options are available to help you achieve your goals. You can work your course studies around your busy schedule through online, evening, and weekend nursing programs.

Is It Too Late to Become a Nurse?

It's never too late to pursue your goals. Strong nursing candidates are always in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment rates for registered nurses (RNs) will grow by 9% from 2021 to 2031. Becoming a nurse later in life may seem overwhelming, but your previous work history gives you an advantage. The knowledge and life experiences you've acquired over the years are valuable in understanding the intricacies and requirements of a nursing career, such as problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills.

How to Pursue Nursing as a Second Career

A nursing profession is an attractive option if you're seeking a career change — but where do you start? Begin by deciding on your educational path. To become a registered nurse, you can choose between a bachelor's degree in nursing, an associate's degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

  • Some schools offer an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program for those interested in becoming a nurse with a bachelor's in another field. Going this route, you can get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in about two years. Remember that working full-time while enrolled in the program is often discouraged.
  • RN programs are offered at community colleges and universities. If you're pursuing a traditional route, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are your two options. You can complete an ADN program in about two years, but a BSN program will take four years.
  • Interested in becoming a nurse when you already have a degree? You may have transferable credits to accelerate the program. Some schools offer online programs, but you'll still need to complete the clinical components in person. Program options and admission requirements may vary by state, so be sure to research opportunities available to you.
  • To advance your nursing career further, consider an RN-to-BSN bridge program.

Once you graduate from a nursing program, you must become licensed before you're allowed to practice. All nursing students are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This exam was created by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The primary goal of the NCSBN is to protect the safety and welfare of patients by developing and overseeing quality nursing license exams.

How to Become a Nurse While Working Full-Time

A smiling middle aged nursing student is seated at home, in front of her laptop, and actively participating in an online class.

Suppose you currently work full-time as a teacher but want to pursue nursing as a second career. Going back to school may seem daunting, but if you're willing to put in the effort and get creative, you can find solutions that work with your busy lifestyle. Consider how you can transfer your current skill set and education to a nursing position when deciding on a career path. Skills essential to nursing include excellent time management and organizational capabilities, interpersonal and communication skills, and patience.

Can I Afford to Change Careers?

Financial concerns often drive our career-related decisions. If you're considering changing careers to a nursing profession, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the necessary funds to pay for another degree?
  • Will I be able to get financial aid?
  • Does my employer offer tuition assistance or loan reimbursement?

If your current employer offers to help with tuition, that could resolve any financial hurdles. For instance, if you work in a university or academic setting, you may be allotted a set number of credit hours paid for by your employer. If this isn't an option, you might consider seeking a new position with a company that offers this benefit.

Working full-time while pursuing a nursing career can be challenging but achievable. Consider an online RN program for more flexibility, or whether you can work evenings and weekends Then, as your employment options expand, you can determine your next steps.

Careers for Nurses Go Beyond Clinical Settings

The possibilities are endless, with many career paths and settings from which to choose. You could work in a clinic, hospital, school, or cruise ship. Do you prefer home health or long-term care? You'll even find remote job opportunities. Graduate programs open even more doors to future nursing opportunities. Whatever path you choose, countless in-person and online options accommodate the flexible needs of busy professionals.

Learn about the different types of nurses to help determine which career path is right for you.


Images sourced from Getty Images

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