How to Switch to Nursing as a Second Career

Recent events have pushed the nursing profession back to the forefront and more people than ever are considering the position. There is also a growing respect for nurses and their role in society, and nursing has become a mission for many. Some people may want to join the ranks and see how they could help. Thankfully, nursing is a field that is welcoming of people from all professional backgrounds, and no matter what your expertise is, chances are you’ll be able to apply some of it in nursing. Here’s how you can switch to nursing as a second career.

Consider If You’re Fit for the Job

nurses-nursingNursing is a job like no other and you need to have a specific set of skills to succeed. You might have all the best intentions in the world, but it takes a special kind of person to be a nurse, so you have to assess your personal and professional skills before making the jump.

For one, this is a job where you will routinely have to deal with loss and grief, so if you don’t have a strong enough disposition, you won’t be able to make it in this field. However, you still need to be compassionate to help patients and their loved ones get through a tough diagnosis and death. Nurses have to be able to juggle between being human and emotionally available, and being able to separate their work from their personal lives.

As well as this, you will need to be a good communicator. If you’re not a people person or are introverted, you might have to look at either another field or positions where you won’t have to interact as much. But, in most cases, jobs will require that you give direct assistance to patients. As a matter of fact, you will have a much closer relationship with patients than they may have with their doctor.

You will need to be able to deal with people coming from different social, economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. You will need to respect their wishes and beliefs. You also have to be able to offer equal care to all.

Also, you need to know how to work as part of a team. You also have to accept hierarchy and be able to take orders. You might disagree with what someone higher than you is saying, but you have to follow through no matter what. Teamwork is especially important in this business, and you have to think of the unit first and not yourself.

Lastly, you need to be very organized and be able to perform under pressure. You might have to deal with a whole floor full of patients on a double short-handed shift and have to keep track of everything. Your decisions could literally mean life or death, and unless you can deal with that kind of pressure, nursing is not a field you should be pursuing.

Getting the Credentials

If you’re coming from a field that is somewhat related, like biology, for instance, then you will already be closer to getting your degree. You have accelerated BSN programs that allow students from other fields to get their bachelor’s faster. Nursing schools like Elmhurst offer online BSN programs for non-nurses. You could get your degree in as little as 16 months if you have the proper credits.

One great thing about online programs is that you don’t have to leave your current position to do so. So, if you still love your job and feel like you still have something to give to the field, then you could still continue working while pursuing your credentials.

Look at Specializations

You will also need to start looking at specializations that you could pursue afterward. You should be establishing your career path from the beginning and looking at various options. Specialization is what will allow you to reach the upper echelons of salaries in the business, and these become easier to reach once you have your license.

You have plenty of programs that can fast track your way to a doctorate, for instance. Or you could look at specializations that will be in high demand in nursing in the next coming years. Positions like public health nurse, for instance, will see a lot of demand and offer great salaries.

This is also what’s great about the field of nursing. As you get higher, you can start to work in a wide variety of roles and they don’t necessarily have to deal with patient care. These could even benefit from some of your previous experience. For instance, if you were in business, then you could move into administrative roles. More healthcare organizations these days have CFOs, and they should, as they are businesses.

You might decide to move to an educator role or even open your own clinic in certain states. So, make sure that you establish a clear plan for yourself and look at all the options that are open to you.

Be Ready for the Challenge and Take Advantage of Learning Opportunities

Another thing we will advise you to do is make sure that you have a solid support system around you and that you are up for the challenge. Making the transition into a completely different field can be difficult, especially if you’re struggling at first. We would suggest that you start getting invested in the nursing community right now and start looking at opportunities.

If you can find one or a few mentors that can help you through, take advantage of this. You should make sure that you take advantage of any learning opportunities. A lot of nursing students decide to work as nursing assistants or medical scribes, for instance. All of this will help you add some feathers to your cap, learn the reality on the ground, and get more job offers.

These are all things you will need to do when making the transition to nursing from another field. Make sure that you have what it takes and don’t hesitate to ask for advice from others who have made the transition before you.

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