Most people hit an age where they pretty much assume the job they have now is the one that they will retire in. That age can be depressingly young when one considers just how many years the average person spends in the workforce.
You don’t want to go back to school in your thirties or forties, knowing that when you get out, you’ll be three years older and just starting out in a new job.
Here’s the deal: no matter what, you’re getting older. You can age into a career you love, or white knuckle it through the status quo.
This article is written for parents in the former category. In this article, we take a look at how you can break into a nursing career even with no prior healthcare background.
Here’s What You Need
Many people pivoting into healthcare are surprised to find out that they won’t need to enroll in a full four-year program. If you already have a college degree, you should be able to choose a curriculum that focuses only on nursing-related classes.
Not only will this save you time— accelerated courses can be completed in less than two years—but it may also save you money. Colleges charge by the credit hour. That means you can save thousands just by skipping out on “Comparative Literature and Film” (interesting though it surely is).
Established adults are also better situated when it comes to financing and committing to their education. Most people have more money as an adult than they did when they were eighteen. You also have more borrowing options.
And what adult isn’t more responsible now than when they were teenagers? All of these factors combine to make now a great time to pursue nursing. Here are the steps you will need to follow.
- Find a program that suits your lifestyle. Many parents favor a remote or hybrid learning environment for the increased flexibility. That, of course, is up to you. Find an educational program that makes sense.
- Establish a sensible timeline. You don’t want the opportunity to fall apart because you bit off more than you can chew. Pick an achievable timeline, and use your first couple of semesters to determine if it’s the right pace for you.
- Work hard.
- Finish it. What else was all that studying and working hard for, if not this?
- Get certified. To become a fully registered nurse, you will also need to pass the NCLEX. It’s a post-graduate exam that nurses in all fifty states need to pass before they can work in their new careers. It’s hard. It’s intimidating. It’s also doable. Around 85% get it on their first go. Just make sure you put in some serious study time. If you don’t pass the NCLEX the first time, you have to wait 45 days before you can take it again.
Once you pass your test and become fully certified, it will be time to start looking for work. Below, we take a look at a few common nursing career choices. Note that, while this list aims to be comprehensive, it is far from complete. There are many, many options for RNs.
Bedside or floor nurses are what most people imagine when they think of the job. Floor nurses work in hospitals, generally over twelve-hour shifts. The job is very rewarding but does have high levels of burnout.
In addition to the lengthy hours, floor nurses also often work evenings and on holidays. Naturally, these conditions make it difficult to maintain social relationships and can be particularly difficult for parents.
Exactly what the name suggests. School nurses serve as a sort of gatekeeper for maintaining a school’s health and wellness. In addition to taking temperatures and applying bandaids to playground injuries, they also enforce health standards within the school.
They keep track of vaccinations, physical records, and other documents relevant to school safety and wellness. When a child is displaying symptoms of a contagious ailment, it’s the school nurse who identifies the issue, and calls the parent. As a parent yourself, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of that call more than once.
Several nice things about being a school nurse as a parent: You work at the same time your kids are at school. You get weekends and holidays off. And you’ll also be off all summer!
Doctor’s Office Nurse
Most doctor’s offices will include nurses within the staff. These positions are comfortable for many of the same reasons described above. While you won’t get summers off, you will work standard business hours. You also won’t (usually) encounter some of the more traumatic cases seen in the hospital setting.
Doctor’s office nurses take vitals, administer shots, and field patient questions.
And So On
Think, for a moment, about all of the possible health ailments or scenarios that you can imagine. Pretty much all of them feature specialized nursing jobs. Diabetes. Cardiac health. Neonatal care. All of these health considerations require dedicated nursing professionals.
As one of those professionals, there will be loads of employment opportunities available to you. While many of these jobs will require special training and certifications, those criteria can often be satisfied at the point of employment. In other words, it may be very possible to find a job that interests you and work directly with the employer to ensure your credentials are appropriate for the job.
This is especially true now that the world of Western healthcare is deep in the throws of a labor shortage. It used to be that nurses would have to consider lengthy commutes, or even relocating to find work. Now, some hospitals are so desperate for help that they will pay people to move across the country to fill jobs.
It’s a great time to be in the job market as a nurse. And if none of the positions described above caught your fancy, fret not! There are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of alternatives. The first step, of course, is to get your education. From there, you’ll be free to fully explore the wide world of nursing.