What Are These Degrees and Are They Right For Me?
As we continue to see the healthcare industry respond to the need for well educated care providers, more and more people are looking into how to become a nurse. This is especially true of people who already have a Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field.
Whether you are burnt out from working in the corporate world, need to find a job that pays better, or simply want to find a career that makes you feel good about what you do, if you are looking at second degree nursing programs-- you are not alone!
According to the AACN, enrollment in accelerated nursing programs has steadily increased over the last decades, and this trend is continuing in 2017. With almost 300 schools offering either Second Degree BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programs or Direct Entry MSN (Master's of Science in Nursing) programs across the U.S., it's obvious that this nursing education route is popular.
But just because it's popular, does that mean it's right for you...?
There are a few basic questions that you need to ask yourself if you are looking to change careers and enter nursing with a second degree.
- Are you okay with long hours, hard work and both day and night shifts?
- Are you afraid of blood or bodily fluids?
- How do you handle fear, loss, stress and heartbreaking stories?
- Are you comfortable with the elderly, young children and every age group in between?
- Can you work well with all personality types, both authority figures and subordinates?
Great. Now that we are getting real about whether you should even look at second degree nursing programs, let's get to some even more important questions.
Since you have already earned a degree, you know the hard work and study time that goes into it. Now, multiply that by at least three, add on mandatory 5am clinical hours for each class, imagine you have to learn a completely new language in medical terminology, and then...think about how that is different from what you experienced when you got your first degree.
- Are you ready to dedicate multiple hours a day to studying?
- Can you balance your personal responsibilties like work and family with going back to school?
- Do you have the financial ability to go back to school?
As a nurse, I know just how hard it is to balance life with nursing school. I spent hours every day in class, then came home to study late into the night, only to get up and be at clinicals by 5am. It's no joke. Nursing school is tough.
So, if you are still on board...it might be time to start looking at all nursing schools that are going to give you the option to earn an accelerated nursing degree. You'll want to find the best accelerated BSN programs around, but before that you have one more very important question to ask yourself.
How far do you want to take your nursing career?
If you are pretty sure that you will be satisfied enough to get your RN license and start working with patients, but don't see yourself as a primary care provider or leader- a second degree BSN should be right for you.
If you are pretty sure that you want to be a Nurse Practitioner or a leader in nursing, you are going to want to look into second degree MSN programs. This will allow you to earn your RN license and move seamlessly into a Master's in Nursing program in the specialty that interests you. I've met people who decided at 30 that they missed their calling, and decided to go back to school to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Midwife through an accelerated MSN program. If this sounds like you, then your answer is clear.
If you aren't sure which route sounds best, take some time to explore them both.
You can find links to both kinds of accelerated nursing schools below:
When it comes down to it, second degree nursing programs can be a swift and efficient way to enter the field of nursing, without starting from scratch. You've put a lot of time into your degree, so it only makes sense to use it if you can. Thankfully, most post bachelor's nursing programs allow you to apply some of your previous credits to your nursing degree, but not all nursing schools apply the same credits.
That's why it's essential to touch base with as many nursing schools as you can to see which has the best accelerated nursing programs for your own situation. If you already have a degree in a science or human services field, you may have a head start. You should be able to apply credits already earned in classes like Biology, Nutrition, Chemistry, Statistics and general studies courses to your nursing degree. Some nursing schools will require that your courses are recent within four-ten years, while others may apply credits you earned over a decade ago.
Again, this is why it is so important to touch base with a variety of second degree nursing programs to fully understand what is going to be the best accelerated nursing school for your situation.
Now that you know a little bit more about what a second degree nursing program is, and why you might consider one, it's time to do some soul-searching. Take some time to think about what you are willing to do to become a nurse, and remember that there are several different specialties and areas of practice that you can explore in this profession.
To help, we created a Nursing Education Map that can help you plan your nursing career and how to get there...
And when you are ready, we have a list of all the best accelerated BSN and MSN programs in the U.S. you can use to contact schools. It's free, it's risk free, and it's the best way for you to figure out if a second degree nursing program is your next move.
And remember, we are here for you, every step of the way. From one nurse, to another future nurse-- Nursing education is the key!