Nursing: Entering the Profession at any Age

By: Suzan Miller-Hoover DNP, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K

Nursing Degree

Nursing is a very stable profession, allowing nurses to work in any state or U.S. territory. It is challenging, overwhelming, yet extremely satisfying. These are some of the reasons nurses choose this career path and often suggest nursing as a career to family and friends.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing profession is growing. By 2024, the projected growth is 16% (Colduvell, 2016). Perhaps now is the time for people to consider becoming a nurse.

Nurses are in a profession with substantial responsibility. Nurses deal with patients and families during the most vulnerable and significant times of their lives. To do this, there are certain qualities that are essential to have:
  •   Compassion
  •   Dedication
  •   Sense of advocacy
  •   Patience
  •   Willingness to learn
  •   Ability to anticipate
  •   Listening and communication skills
  •   Critical thinking skills
  •   Management skills
  •   Leadership skills
  •   Physical endurance
  •   Life experience
  •   Humility
  •   An attitude of servanthood

Entry into nursing can be done at several levels. Choosing the right level will depend on your location, expectations, previous education experience and cost of the program. Here are examples of the nursing degrees available:

Associate Degree Program
  •   May be an option if you live in a rural area with limited access to a four year college or university
  •   Costs less than university degree programs
  •   Entry into the profession is quicker - this program usually takes 2-years to complete
  •   These programs often have a long wait list and there are pre-requisites prior to applying

Bachelor’s Degree Program
  •   May be an option if you do or do not have a bachelor’s degree in another field
  •   These programs usually take four years to complete
     o  If you already have a degree, some of the pre-requisites may be accepted
     o  If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, the time to finish a BSN may take 2 years
     o  By 2020, nurses should have a BSN at entry level

Direct Entry Master’s Degree Program
  •   Some programs will allow you get a master’s degree in nursing using your bachelor’s degree in another field as your pre-requisite
  •   You may be able to take the NCLEX prior to graduation
     o  Caution: Be sure to finish the program so that you have a degree. Some states will not allow practice without a nursing degree even with licensure
  •   The program may allow you to get your advanced practice education

RN to BSN or MSN program
  •   These programs allow diploma and associate degree nurses to get advanced degrees
  •   The length of the program varies dependent on the degree obtained
  •   Clinical practice rotations are often not necessary
  •   You may be able to get your advanced practice education
  (NursingLicense.org, 2018)

There is still time to enter this exciting profession. It is not easy – the education, the NCLEX, the physical requirements and the emotional requirements make this a demanding profession. However demanding, this may be the most rewarding profession to be in.

Colduvell, K. (2016). The Pros to a second degree nursing programs. Retrieved from: https://nurse.org/articles/second-degree-nurse-programs/

EveryNurse.org. (2013). Is the nursing profession right for you? Nurses speak out on qualities one should have to enter the nursing profession. Retrieved from: https://everynurse.org/right-person-for-nursing

NursingLicensure.org (2018). Becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s in another discipline: your second degree nursing options. Retrieved from: https://www.nursinglicensure.org/articles/second-degree-nursing.html

© 2019 AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.