If there is any hero that has emerged during the pandemic, it was nurses. Around the world, nurses were on the frontline and helping others with lifesaving and preventative care. Not only were they there for those who came to them with COVID and in need, but they also continued to provide care to the regular population of patients from every walk of life. Nurses are critical to the very structure of society, and if you have ever considered being a nurse, and have what it takes to succeed, then you should absolutely take the plunge and transition your career into nursing.
Not only is nursing in the spotlight right now, but it is also in dire need of new, fresh-faced people. Currently, around 22% of the nursing workforce in the United States is over the age of 55, meaning that in the next decade or so, they will retire and leave a large shortage behind with them. Becoming a nurse now means that you can offset that shortage and work to provide everyone with better quality of care now and in the future.
There are so many reasons to be a nurse, and whatever reasons you personally have are good enough to get started. Wanting to be a nurse, however, and transitioning your career into nursing, are two very different things. With this guide, you’ll be able to easily manage that transition and take advantage of the options available to you.
If You Already Have a Degree
If you already have a degree, however, then you absolutely should use that to fast-track your BSN. There is no need to redo credits you already have under your belt, and the good news is that it is very likely that your degree covered either a few or even all of the prerequisite courses you’ll need to get started with that accelerated degree option.
An Accelerated BSN (ABSN) is the perfect choice to help you get through the BSN faster and to get started as an RN sooner. It is ideal for second-career professionals who likely already have an undergraduate degree under their belt.
You can either complete that accelerated degree in person or online. An ABSN online can be completed either full-time or part-time, depending on your personal situation and which program you opt for.
If you have a family to support and cannot or do not want to live off of the maintenance fee and student loan, then you will want to look for an online accelerated degree that allows you to juggle both your current career and your degree.
If, on the other hand, you do have the opportunity to quit your job, you can then progress even faster through your BSN. If you are settled where you are and don’t want to move (for example, if you own your home), then learning online is simply the better option. If you don’t have that level of stability and want to use your degree as a chance to relocate, then attending full-time and on-campus can be the best choice.
If You Don’t Already Have a Degree
If you don’t have a degree already, then you will need to complete a full BSN degree in order to become an RN. There is a shorter route as well. If your state still accepts the Associate’s Degree in Nursing, you can first complete that program, which takes around two years, work as an RN, and while working can fast-track through your BSN.
You need a BSN. BSN degrees are being pushed as the standard for RNs, and are a prerequisite for those who want to further their career with an MSN.
Your first option is to complete your degree part-time. You may have a better paying job currently that can support you and your family better than trying to get started as a certified nursing assistant. An online, flexible degree may take longer, but it can help you transition smoothly.
If you want to earn your BSN faster and have the means and support to do so full-time, then you have that option. You can either complete it online (this does include an in-person clinical placement) or on-campus.
Associate’s Degree, Then Bachelor Degree
As stated, you could technically earn the ADN first and become qualified and paid as an RN. This takes two years, and then you will need at least another two years to then fast-track through the rest of the BSN.
There are options that allow you to earn your BSN and even a master’s in a specialty like a nurse leadership all at once. You cannot become an APRN through this route. Integrated degrees also exist that will allow you to work to earn your MSN and DNP through the same program. Integrated degrees do take longer, but they can actually help you progress through your career faster as you take less time off in-between. There is not a BSN to MSN degree option because you need experience working as an RN before you can then proceed towards being an APRN.
A Few Things to Consider
There are a few things to consider before you enroll in your degree of choice. One of the most important options, for example, is where you want to work. If you always dreamed of one day moving to another state, for example, and that state is not within the eNLC then you will have a harder time transferring your credentials from one state to another. If you currently are not living in an eNLC state but want to travel as a nurse freely through most of the country, relocating in advance will be a must.
Essentially, take note of where you can practice as a nurse based on your personal goals, and then find the right program to take you there. With the right approach, you can easily transition from your current career and become an RN, as your BSN (any kind) will prepare you for the NCLEX exam, meaning you’ll be trained and certified, and ready to work before you know it.