Looking for a change of career? Here is a guide to launching your second career in nursing

With people generally living longer and the retirement age continuing to rise, it is possible that you could experience several vastly different careers throughout your working life. As such, you might have come to the conclusion that you have reached the end of the road for your current career path and now be looking for new challenges ahead. For example, if you have dedicated your time to pursuing a money-oriented career with a lot of responsibility, you might have become jaded over time and now wish to dedicate yourself towards helping people. If this is the case, then you can’t go wrong with a second career in nursing. Read on to find out more about why nursing makes a great second career and what you can do to kickstart your new career in the shortest time possible.

Why should you become a nurse?

There are many reasons why becoming a nurse makes a great career choice. The most obvious reasons will be discussed here.

It is estimated that the United States will experience a huge boom in the need for registered nurses over the next 10 to 20 years due to several important factors. Firstly, the aging baby boomer population is starting to require increasing healthcare as they enter old age. This is perhaps exacerbated by the current generation of registered nurses reaching retirement age and leaving the job market open for new recruits and the increase in chronic health conditions in society such as diabetes and heart disease resulting from obesity and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Thanks to these factors, you will never be out of a job as a nurse, meaning that you can enjoy a high amount of job stability and a regular wage, an important factor in today’s unstable and unpredtictable times.

Nursing is an ideal career choice if you want to combine academic study with hands-on care. After gaining your licensure and becoming a registered nurse, you can choose to specialize in a particular field of nursing. For example, you might want to become an oncology nurse and specialize in providing top-quality care and support to cancer patients and their families at every stage of the diagnoses. Or, you might want to work with a community as a whole in helping to educate people on health issues, such as how to pursue a balanced diet on a limited budget, so that people are empowered to take control of their own health and to reduce the prevalence of certain preventable diseases and conditions, like obesity, in a community. As such, there are a great many opportunities for personal development and career progression in nursing to ensure that you have a promising and fulfilling career ahead of you.

Finally, perhaps the most enduring reason why nursing makes a great second career choice is that it is a rewarding vocation that gives you the sense of satisfaction that what you are doing makes a real difference to your patients’ lives. Over the past 18 months, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the entire world has seen just how intrinsic nurses are to ensuring a healthy and happy society. As such, more and more people have greater respect and increasing understanding of the empathy and expertise needed in the nursing profession. By becoming a nurse, you will be intrinsic in providing patients and their families with the expert care and education they need in order to live full and healthy lives.

So, if you have decided to take the plunge and enter the nursing profession, what steps do you need to take in order to gain your state licensure and become a registered nurse? Furthermore, how long will the journey to qualification take?

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

To become a nurse, it is essential that you have a high level of education in the key factors of health issues, nursing care, and medical treatment. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities are increasingly only choosing to accept newly qualified nurses who have a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). However, if you are entering the nursing profession as a second career and do not wish to return to university for another three years of full-time education, be reassured that there are options available for you. Search for accelerated BSN programs online to get your second career in nursing off to a flying start. Specifically designed for career changers, accelerated programs use your prior bachelor’s degree in any discipline as your foundation so that you only now complete nursing-specific courses. Thanks to this, you will earn your BSN in only 16 months and be free to go ahead and take your NCLEX state licensure exam. Fully licensed as a registered nurse, you will be well-positioned for your new role providing direct and top-quality patient care.

NCLEX exam

After you have completed your BSN, you will have to take and pass the NCLEX exam in order to become licensed to practice nursing in your state. This is a computerized test consisting of an average of 119 questions and must be completed within six hours. If you fail the exam, you must wait at least 45 days to retake it. To give you the best chance of passing the NCLEX exam the first time, look for an accredited BSN degree program that teaches you the relevant information needed to pass.

Specializing with a master’s degree

Certain nursing roles, such as nurse anesthetist and certified nurse specialist, require you to become an advanced practice nurse by studying for a master’s degree.  After you have passed the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse, you might have further dreams of specializing in a particular area of nursing. Suppose this is something that you want to do. In that case, you could look into taking a part-time master’s of science in nursing, which will allow you to specialize in your chosen area alongside building up invaluable clinical experience while working full-time.