Many people hit a certain age, and assume that the life they have currently is pretty much the one that they will have in perpetuity. Now, that age can vary from person to person, but regardless, it usually comes as a startling, even disappointing realization.
It’s also a faulty one.
The truth? It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you have the right combination of desire and ability, you can reinvent your career at any point. That even goes for healthcare.
If you are interested in becoming a nurse—and goodness knows we could use more of them—there are steps you can take to make it happen at any age. In this article, we take a look at what it takes to pursue nursing as a second career.
First of all, it’s important to clarify that your age and background shouldn’t have a big impact on your ability to become a nurse. In fact, depending on your experiences, it may make the process a little bit easier.
For example, if you already have a college degree, you may not need to enroll in a four-year program complete with gen-eds and all of the other things that can delay your ability to get a degree.
In this case, you may be eligible for an accelerated nursing course that allows you to get certified in about two years (sometimes even faster). Hey, what a deal!
Even if you do have to start from scratch, it isn’t the end of the world. It’s easy to sit there and think, “Four years! I’ll be forty-two.” But guess what? You’ll be forty-two either way. Wouldn’t you rather meet middle age with a job that you like?
Alright, no more pep talk. Let’s get into it. Below, we take a look at the steps you will need to take to become a nurse.
As mentioned earlier, there are many different ways you can go about getting certified. The accelerated program is a great option for people who want to move into their new life as quickly as possible. However, it does have drawbacks.
As you can imagine, cramming four years of instruction into 18-24 months can fill up your schedule very quickly.
This may be particularly true for established adults with families and other jobs to take into account.
If you can’t go the accelerated route, there are other options available. Some programs will even allow you to take classes online, making it easier for people who require a flexible arrangement to manage their schedules.
Obviously, there are student loans. However, if you are at a stage in life where taking on new debts is a major turn-off, there are other routes you can consider. Some working adults will do their best to pay for their degree in cash.
You might not have an extra $30K sitting around in liquidity, but college expenses don’t play out all at once. Most universities will work with you on installment plans. In this case, each class you take might run you X amount of dollars a month.
It won’t be cheap, but depending on the strength of your finances, it may be doable.
There are also grants and scholarship opportunities. Some may even be specific to your situation.
Finally, depending on where you currently work, you may have the opportunity to get some money from your employer. Speak with HR to find out if this stipulation applies to you.
This is the biggest and certainly most difficult step. Once you get all of your other ducks in a row, all that is left is to do the coursework. As an established adult, you may find that you have more distractions in your life than you did the last time you were a student.
Don’t let that stand in the way of your education. If you have a solid support system, tap into it. Get help with the kids. Delicate household responsibilities. Get comfortable with the phrase, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I have homework.”
Balancing work, school, and family is hard, but it is also only a temporary pain. Get through it and you will come out the other side with your dream job.
Becoming a nurse involves a lot of conventional classroom learning, but there are also several unique hurdles that you will have to face to get your degree. First of all, getting certified requires a significant amount of clinical experience.
Unfortunately, there is a lower threshold for flexibility when it comes to tackling your clinicals. When you reach this point, it will be particularly important to find ways to make the time for your school responsibilities.
Also, note that you aren’t quite done when graduation day comes around. You’ll still need to pass the NCLEX—a test that all nurses need to get through in order to be certified. It’s tough, but it’s also not beyond you.
Just make sure you prepare thoroughly. While failing the test won’t end your chances of becoming a nurse, it can delay them. There is usually a required waiting period of around three months (it varies based on where you live) to retake the test.
Always an option, of course, but not one you want to take. Hit the books, prepare for as long as you need, and then go for it. You’ve got this!
And then, like that, you’re a nurse. Once you pass all of your certification requirements, all that is left is to find a job that makes you happy. While most people think first of bedside nursing, there are actually many ways to use your degree.
Think long and hard about your interests and turnoffs, and choose a nursing career that you can feel passionate about.