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Nursing as a Second Career: What You Should Know

Shifting careers is a big deal—but these days, it’s pretty common

When you choose your major in college, that effectively dictates your career trajectory. This is a decision you likely make in your teens, and it will have lifelong consequences. We tend to model our dedication to our professions on previous generations, and if you think about your parents or grandparents, you’ll discover that they often stuck to one job or profession from the day they entered the workforce until they retired. 

So, when the option to pursue a second career comes up, many question whether it’s a smart professional decision. For those thinking about nursing, however, the decision to do so may be easier. Nursing fulfills the desire to make a real difference in the lives of others through their profession, and nurses say that their job gives them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

More importantly, nursing is a career that’s accessible to almost anyone, and at any point in their lives. If you’re considering it as a second career, rest assured that you can do so successfully if you keep these five things in mind: 

1. Don’t be deterred by your age

Many students interested in entering nursing as a second career are apprehensive because they’re worried about their age. In the course of looking and researching possible options for nursing schools, you probably saw how young students truly are. Given the rigors of nursing education and training, you may worry that being older means you won’t be able to keep up with the demands of the course. 

Nursing, however, is a field where age and experience can prove to be an advantage. When you’re older, it’s likely that you already have relevant career experience. This means you’ve likely developed the professional discipline and dedication it takes to pursue a career successfully. It also means you have more developed interpersonal and communication skills, better stress management techniques, and more confidence to take on the challenges of the profession. 

Bottom line? While you may be older, you likely have the experience needed to be a more well-rounded healthcare professional. Still, if you’re feeling a little unsure, keep this in mind: the average age of nurses in the United States is 51 years old.

2. Do your research

Be realistic about your education and job expectations. Sure, nursing is one of the fastest growing sectors in healthcare today and is one of the most in-demand, but the job can also be challenging and demanding. Before you commit to nursing as a second career, familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the profession. What should you expect as you begin school? How will the time and commitment to study affect your current lifestyle? If you can, sit down with a nurse who can tell you more about the reality of studying nursing. 

Healthcare is a field that is constantly evolving. Familiarizing yourself with the potential challenges that you may face, inside and outside the classroom, gives you more insight as to whether nursing is truly for you. 

3. Choosing the right nursing program matters

Finding a nursing program that fits your needs is just as important as your decision to actually take the leap and study nursing. 

There are numerous programs available, and they have different curriculums, policies, and requirements. Which one is best for you will depend on numerous factors. For example, since you’re pursuing nursing as a second career…

  • Do you currently have a job that demands your attention?
  • Does this mean you need the flexibility of online classes?
  • Will you need financial assistance?
  • Are you able to commute easily to and from classes?
  • Do you want to pursue a shorter nursing program so you can dip your toe in healthcare and make a bigger commitment from there? 

4. It doesn’t end with graduating from nursing school

Nursing requires you to pursue certifications and licenses to ensure that you are fully prepared to take on the real challenges of nursing. Keep in mind that you also have to study for NCLEX to determine if your training has fully prepared you for a career in nursing. Supporting certificate programs are available to make sure that your medical knowledge is up to date. 

5. Familiarize yourself with your opportunities for growth

One of the greatest things about nursing is that it doesn’t lock you into a single career path. Depending on your interests, you have the option to pursue different branches and fields that suit your skills and passion. For example, if you thrive in high-adrenaline, fast-paced environments, the ER could be a great focus. On the other hand, if you’re a stickler for process and happen to be a great communicator, going the administrative route might be a better fit. 

There are numerous options to consider and this empowers nurses, even those who choose it as a second career, to explore the different ways they can become a part of this field. 

If you’re thinking of starting a second career as a nurse and want to learn more about HCI College’s different programs, please get in touch with us today or visit our website for more information.

If you know people who are considering a career change, please share this article with them.