7 Reasons to Go Back to School for Nursing
If you’ve ever thought about pursuing a second career in nursing, you’ve probably wondered about the logistics, cost, and success rate of students who pursue nursing education. Nurses must complete specialized education courses, gain hands-on experience that can only be gained through clinical rotations and take a challenging licensure exam. If you already have a bachelor’s degree and are working in a different field, it can be hard to decide if going back to school for nursing will be worth it for you.
What are the best educational pathways for nursing?
If you’re considering going back to school for nursing, you should be fully aware of your options. Multiple educational pathways can prepare you for a nursing career.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) complete a nursing certification program before taking a licensure exam called an NCLEX-PN. LPNs can work in a handful of limited roles in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. However, LPNs have limitations on their scope of practice and their responsibilities at work.
Registered nurses (RNs) are nurses who have completed a two-year (ADN) or four-year (BSN) nursing degree program before completing an exam called the NCLEX-RN. Registered nurses are the most common designation in nursing and the healthcare field, with 3.1 million RNs practicing in the United States.
Both the ADN and BSN degrees qualify a nurse to take the NCLEX-RN exam, but the BSN program is typically more in-depth and includes coursework in leadership, administration, and public health.
Licensed RNs with BSN degrees are highly competitive job applicants. The highest-paid entry-level jobs will typically go to RNs who have earned a Bachelor’s degree.
Second-career nurses who already have a Bachelor’s degree can enroll in an accelerated BSN program. These programs don’t take as long as a traditional Bachelor’s and can get you started in nursing more quickly than traditional BSNs.
Beginning a second career as a nurse requires dedication, focus, and additional education. But it’s also hard to think of many other professions that offer the job stability, personal fulfillment, and leadership opportunities found in nursing.
Here are just a few reasons why now is a great time to go back to school for nursing.
1. An ongoing nursing shortage means job security for new nurses.
The skilled healthcare workforce is experiencing an unprecedented need for personnel. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), at least 275,000 new nursing roles are expected to open up within 10 years. The BLS also forecasts that the nursing field will experience a growth of 9% in the next decade, which is faster than all other occupations in the previous decade. Going back to school for nursing now means you’ll be ready to fulfill that need for nurses.
2. A larger, aging population creates more healthcare roles to fill.
People are living longer lives. They’re also experiencing chronic health issues at a rate that previous generations didn’t, and the type of care that they need can look different. According to the CDC, six in ten Americans now live with a chronic condition. Nurses specializing in senior care, mental health care, and pain management will all be called to the forefront as the number of jobs in these specialties increases.
3. Nursing jobs are among the country's most highly paid large occupations.
Salary expectations in many fields are no longer keeping pace with inflation. Compensation for nursing, on the other hand, remains competitive. As of 2021, RNs make an average salary of $77,600 per year, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurses pursuing higher education levels can expect opportunities to make more money.
4. Nurses report that caregiving gives them a sense of purpose.
Nursing is an occupation where you can see the impact of your efforts on a day-to-day basis. In moments when a person is feeling vulnerable, helpless, or in pain, nurses have the opportunity to offer comfort, reassurance, and dignity.
Nurses also have the opportunity to help people navigate the healthcare system. Nurses are on the front lines of contributing to their communities as they administer care that sees and values each individual.
5. Nurses can work in nearly any healthcare setting.
Nurses don’t just work in hospitals. Schools, physician practices, nursing care facilities, and private residences are just a few places you’ll find nurses at work. That’s why going back to school for nursing can be a pathway to a work schedule that suits your needs and your life. Some nurses find that shift work allows more time for family commitments and leisure time, while others prefer a traditional 9-5. Whatever your preference, there are options.
The wide berth of opportunities for nurses also means there’s much room to move around and explore the field. Clinical rotations during nursing school will help you get a feel for the type of nursing that fits you best and which populations you feel most drawn to working with. Some nurses love the precision of assisting with a surgery, others prefer working with younger populations within the scope of a pediatrician’s office, and still others gravitate toward the adrenaline rush of the ER.
6. BSNs have more options than ever
RNs with any degree are in high demand nationwide, but BSNs are especially needed. Nurses who enter the field with a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) are qualified for a range of professional responsibilities , including leadership and administration. Some nursing jobs will typically require a BSN for entry, including case managers, public health nurses, nurses at magnet hospitals, and any nursing jobs with the US military.
Second-career nurses especially should strongly consider a BSN, as the additional education can help bolster your resume when you don’t have previous nursing experience.
7. Accelerated programs can get nurses into the field faster.
Starting a second career in nursing doesn’t mean you have to start your undergraduate studies all over again. Programs catering to nurses with a bachelor’s degree in another field take your previous education under consideration. Many accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees (ABSN) can be completed in two years or less.
Going back to school for nursing to get an ABSN can put you on the fast track to higher earning potential, greater career fulfillment, and increased stability at work. Many of these programs are now offered completely remotely, except for clinical rotations. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can complete the program and enter the field with a BSN.
How do you get started going back to school for nursing?
Take the first step toward becoming a nurse today. Follow the links above to learn more about these accelerated nursing programs, or fill out our form to speak to a university advisor who can help identify the right program for you.