Making a Career Change to Nursing

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Making the career change to nursing is a smart decision. Because of your life experience, you'll already have skills that will make you a good nurse. The steps to make the change to nursing include choosing a BSN program, taking prerequisites, completing nursing school, passing the NCLEX, and getting licensed.

Woman at desk writing in notebook

Career change can be hard. It takes perseverance to redirect your life plans, but sometimes adjusting your course is the best way to make it ashore. If you’re in your 30s, 40s, or later and are considering making a change to nursing as a career, good for you. There are questions and doubts with career change, but we’re here to reassure you about how you can achieve success with the career change to nursing.

Nursing is an ideal second career, no matter what your age or background. The field of nursing offers personal satisfaction and purposeful work. In addition, you’ll enter into an in-demand career with high compensation that averages $75,330 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether your prior career was as a teacher, marketing professional, parent, server, or analyst, you can make a positive transformation in your life by pursuing nursing as a second career.

At Felician University, our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs will get you on track to a career change to nursing sooner. If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a bachelor’s degree, Felician’s online-based accelerated nursing program can help you earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and launch your new nursing career in as few as 16 months.

nurse with manikin

Learn more about how an accelerated nursing program works and how it can work for you.

In this post, we’ll cover all you need to know about switching to nursing as a second career. We’ll explain why nursing is a great second career choice, what skills you’ll need as a nurse, and how to get started in nursing.

Why Choose Nursing as a Second Career?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better second career than nursing. Not only does it provide a secure job with good compensation, but it’s also a job where you will make a difference every day. We’ll discuss just a few of the many advantages of choosing nursing as a second career.

1. Your Prior Experience Prepares You to Be a Nurse

Going into your second career, you already have valuable life experience. That means you’re actually more prepared to make a great nurse than if you were starting fresh from undergrad. Nurses are wise and dependable members of the healthcare team. Patients, families, and healthcare team members trust nurses to do the right thing.

Because you are entering the nursing field with prior life experience, you already bring many applicable qualities and skills:

  • Wisdom and maturity
  • Thoughtful decision making
  • Ability to handle pressure
  • Effective communication skills
  • Ability to do hard work — you’re willing to devote time and energy into meaningful ventures

No matter what your past career was, you have important experience that you can use to be a successful nurse.

Another benefit of second-career nurses is that they are often parents. If that’s you, you can take many lessons from parenting into nursing. You’re already great at caring for other human beings and explaining complex topics in an understandable way. Your ability to calm a child who is angry or afraid will help you de-escalate high-stress patient situations.

Your life experiences have already given you many of the soft skills nurses need, putting you well on your way to becoming a great nurse.

2. You’ll Have Job Security

Nurses are in high demand because of a countrywide nursing shortage, which has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to be able to find a job wherever you live, then nursing is a prime choice.

Job security in nursing increases even more for nurses who have a BSN degree. Nurses with a BSN are better placed to get job opportunities and promotions compared to nurses with an associate degree.

What are the advantages of having a BSN in nursing? Learn how a bachelor's degree will further your career.

nursing students in class

Research shows that a higher educated nursing staff produces better patient outcomes. This means that going back to nursing school for 16 to 18 months in one of our accelerated nursing programs will pay dividends by giving you a long-term, stable career.

3. You Can Earn Your Degree Quickly

One of the advantages of choosing nursing as a second career is that you can potentially start sooner. With the Hybrid ABSN program, you can earn your BSN in as few as 16 months after finishing your prerequisites. The online-based curriculum allows you to condense your learning, while still gleaning vital skills through in-person labs and clinicals.

Rather than spending a couple of years in a traditional nursing program, you will spend just over a year in an accelerated program. Making the investment in your education now means you can transition to your second career quickly.

4. Nursing Offers Variety and Growth Opportunities

Nursing is a career where everyone can find a niche that suits their personality and career goals. There are many options to choose from, both at the bedside and away from the bedside. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), a BSN provides even more opportunities, such as with the U.S. military, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, travel nursing, and advanced practice nursing specialties.

Just a few of the nursing careers you can choose from include:

  • Surgical nurse
  • Pediatric nurse
  • Home health nurse
  • Informatics nurse
  • Cruise ship nurse
  • School nurse

This list could go on and on. Another advantage of a second career in nursing is that you’ll have opportunity for growth in many areas, such as:

  • Nursing management
  • Healthcare administration
  • Advanced practice nursing (with a master’s degree)
  • Nursing education
nurse assisting patient in wheelchair

Discover a few of the unique alternative careers available to nurses outside the hospital.

What Skills and Traits Do Nurses Need?

As a second-career nurse, it’s beneficial for you to hone your nursing skills in order to start your new career on the right foot. By focusing on becoming the best nurse you can be, you’ll make greater strides in your new career.

Here are some of the soft skills and traits great nurses have:

  • Use of teamwork for treating patients
  • Effective communication skills
  • Empathy and compassion for people of varying backgrounds
  • Ability to think on their feet in challenging times
  • Problem solving skills
  • Trustworthiness and responsibility

In the course of your life experience, you may already have developed some of these nursing soft skills and traits. Now it’s just a matter of applying them to nursing and learning nursing-specific healthcare knowledge and techniques.

How to Start a Second Career in Nursing

By choosing one of our ABSN programs, you can succeed in making a career change to nursing. The ABSN pathway consists of four steps that will help you transition to nursing as a second career. If you have any questions about your nursing journey, our admissions counselors would love to talk with you about your unique situation.

1. Choose a Nursing Program

The first step to becoming a nurse is choosing the right program. Because of the many professional nursing advantages of having a bachelor’s degree, we recommend choosing a BSN program.

Want to learn more about how to choose the right nursing program? Find out what to look for in your ideal school.

close-up of woman thinking how to choose a nursing program, surrounded by medical icons

At Felician University, we offer both a 16-month hybrid ABSN program and an 18-month on-ground ABSN program. With the hybrid program, you’ll learn through a combination of online courses, in-person nursing labs, and clinical rotations. That means you’ll benefit from the flexibility of online learning, while also having the advantage of collaborative, real-world clinical experiences.

2. Complete Prerequisites

Before starting an accelerated BSN program, you’ll need to complete any outstanding prerequisites. Prerequisite classes will give you the necessary foundational knowledge for the nursing curriculum. Science prerequisites must have been taken within the past 10 years for eligibility.

The ABSN prerequisites for Felician include:

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and physiology I and II
  • Pathophysiology
  • Chemistry
  • Statistics
  • Lifespan development

The best way to know which classes you’ll need to take is to talk with a Felician admissions counselor. They will determine what classes transfer, help you make a prerequisite plan, and identify a good date for you to start nursing school.

nursing student studying at desk with textbooks and laptop

3. Graduate with a BSN

Once you’ve been accepted into an accelerated BSN program, it’s time for some hard work and dedication. You’ll need to put in the time and energy to soak in all you can about nursing within a short period of time. Reach out to faculty if you ever need help and collaborate with peers when tackling challenging topics. With a proactive and disciplined approach to your education, you can walk away with a BSN in as few as 16 months after you begin.

4. Take the NCLEX and Get Your License

Once you graduate, the finish line is close. You’ll need to apply for licensure in your state, and then you’ll get approval to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Most students take a month or two after graduation to study for the exam.

The NCLEX is a challenging test that combines everything you’ve learned during nursing school. It also takes time to master the way the NCLEX asks questions. You’ll need to employ problem solving skills to choose the best answer, as there may be more than one answer that’s technically correct.

After passing the NCLEX, you’ll be able to receive your nursing license and begin your second career. Now you can start working as a registered nurse!

Make the Change with Felician

If you’re looking to make the career change to nursing, you have a rewarding second career ahead. While it’s challenging to alter course in your 30s, 40s, or beyond, you won’t look back.

At Felician University, we will be here with you every step of the way as you transition to becoming a nurse. Many of our students are second-career nurses, and we find they bring exceptional skills and qualities to the field of nursing. Whether in our 16-month hybrid ASBN or 18-month on-ground curriculum, you’ll receive a comprehensive nursing education that will ensure you graduate as a practice-ready nurse.

Contact our admissions counselors to learn more about how Felician can help you can transform your life by making the positive change to nursing.