Why you should consider a second career as a nurse Becoming a nurse is one of the most selfless and rewarding acts a person can undertake — and it's not too late.

Thinking about a career change? Many people find themselves unhappy in their existing roles, and this could be for any number of reasons. Still, it is essential to realize that you are not trapped in one industry, and you might find it easier to switch to another career than you might have imagined.

One career worth looking at is nursing — a popular second career with so many people because it bring so many rewards. Read on.

First of all, why nursing?

Nursing is a brilliant second career choice for many different reasons, such as:

  • There is currently a shortage, so demand is high
  • You get to work with lots of different people
  • You get to help save lives
  • You serve the community and public as a whole
  • There are progression opportunities
  • You can earn good money
  • It is an active role
  • You can work anywhere

Is it right for me?

Of course you’ll need to thoroughly consider your options before making a big life decision about a new right career path. Researching nursing online is a good way of doing this, but it is also helpful if you can speak to nurses in person. So reach out to your personal network or contact someone at your local hospital. Think in advance about the kind of questions that you might ask about the demands of the job.

Testing the waters

Another way to determine whether or not nursing is the right career decision for you is to gain some experience. You could volunteer in your local hospital, work as a nursing assistant (CNA) or nurse technician to see if this is work you will be able to manage and get satisfaction from. Any kind of related volunteer work will also be helpful down the line when looking for employment if you do decide to make the switch. Remember to put it on the CV.

What kind of skills do I need to succeed?

Many people are hesitant to make a career change because they might believe that they do not have the skill set. Nursing requires specific skills that you will be taught — but also relies on a lot of core, basic soft skills that are important in all industries.

Even if you do not possess all of these skills, they can be improved with research and practice. A few critical skills that you will need as a nurse are:

  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening skills
  • Presentational skills
  • Ability to work as part of a time
  • Leadership skills
  • Critical thinking

What kind of nursing specialties are there and what do they pay?

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $167,950
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $107,030
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $106,028
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner – $105,658
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $103,770
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $102,487
  • Pain Management Nurse – $101,916
  • Nursing Administrator – $99,730
  • Family Nurse Practitioner – $98,408
  • Registered Nurse First Assist – $96,418
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner – $89,637
  • Nurse Educator – $81,350
  • Informatics Nurse – $79,014
  • Critical Care Nurse – $74,588
  • Health Policy Nurse – $71,703

What about nursing qualifications?

Many people will be deterred by the idea of switching to a healthcare career because they think that the only option is to study for four years. Those that are switching from a non-healthcare background should look into accelerated BSN nursing programs which will help to prepare you for a career in nursing in just one year.

Accelerated BSN nursing programs are intensive courses with most coursework being carried out online along with clinical experience so you can gain valuable experience in the field before finding employment. Once you have completed your program, you will then need to get licensed by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

Am I too old to become a nurse?

As long as you understand that nursing can be a physically demanding job and you’re up for the task, nursing can be right for you no matter your age. Potential healthcare employers value the maturity, professionalism, and advanced skills that older nurses can bring them. According to the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, 45 percent of nurses are 50 years or older, and their average age, which is increasing every year, is currently 47.

How do I adjust to the nursing lifestyle?

One of the greatest challenges that people have, when they start a second career as a nurse, is adjusting to the shift work lifestyle (especially if you have spent your career in a Monday to Friday 9-5 role). It can be hard to adjust to shifting work, especially when the work can be physically and mentally, so demanding. Here are some tips which should help:

  • Prioritize getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours)
  • Get into good physical shape before starting your new career
  • Have plans in place for how to spend your days off
  • Eat a healthy diet both at work and at home
  • Try to separate professional and personal life
  • Find a person/group to provide support for any work difficulties
  • Find a mentor
  • Find ways to relax after work

How do I succeed as a nurse?

If you want to succeed in your second career and climb the ladder, then there are lots of ways in which you can do this. Much like in any career, work ethic, being a team player and showing your dedication will help you to get ahead and climb the ladder. A few other essential tips for succeeding in a second career as a nurse include:

  • Networking!
  • Learning about new practices, trends and technologies
  • Attending industry events
  • Showing leadership skills
  • Speaking to a mentor
  • Improving your communication skills

Many people go on to start a second career in nursing and find that it gives them tremendous job satisfaction. Nursing is a noble career and one which allows you to make a big difference to people’s lives, plus it can provide a decent salary with progression opportunities.

There is also a shortage of nurses due to the ageing population and advances in healthcare, so now is an excellent time to embark on a nursing career.

The above information should help you to make up your mind, get started, and could help you to find good work all in just over a year. Good luck!

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Darina Confidus
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Darina Confidus

A very interesting article and a very close topic for me. My daughter is studying nursing in college.