You’ve always liked the idea of becoming a nurse, but you chose a different career path. Now, with so many staffing shortages in healthcare, you believe it’s time to pursue this missed opportunity. So, how DO you change your career to nursing?
Tips to Change Careers to Nursing
Volunteer or Job Shadow
Before you make any decisions, evaluate whether nursing truly is the right choice for you. Fortunately, there are lots of opportunities for you to test out your new career. Multiple organizations from local nursing homes to the American Red Cross welcome (and desperately need) volunteers. You’ll be helping your community while also gaining hands-on experience. Additionally, you could connect with a business or someone you know and ask if you could shadow them for a day. Since nurses work anywhere from large hospitals to individual’s homes, this is a wonderful way to explore various possibilities.
Choose a Degree or Training Program
Once you have an idea of what type of nurse you would like to be, investigate the educational requirements. Nursing degrees or training programs can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 8 years. Top options include:
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) – CNAs work in hospitals or long-term care facilities. They do not need a college degree but instead must finish a state-accredited training program. CNA programs usually involve around 75 hours of classroom and hands-on training followed by an exam. Many community colleges, hospitals, and non-profit organizations, such as the Red Cross, offer CNA training.
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) – LPN and LVN’s practice in a variety of medical settings from hospitals to doctor’s offices. Like CNAs, they do not need a college degree. However, they must complete a state-approved education program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). This process typically takes 1 to 2 years.
- Registered Nurse (RN) – RNs also work in a variety of medical settings. They must hold either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree plus pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Most hospitals and medical facilities prefer to hire RNs with a 4-year degree.
- Nurse Practitioner (NP) – NPs, also known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), are RNs with advanced education. They must earn at least a master’s degree and pass a national certification exam. Depending upon the specialty, this process may take anywhere from 6 to 8 years.
Evaluate Your Current Education
Before you think to yourself, “I can’t go back to school for another 4 years,” consider any education you’ve already completed. Many RN programs will transfer general education credits from other bachelor’s degrees. This could cut your program time down by a year or two. Similarly, holding CNA or LPN/LVN certification may also reduce the number of credits required. To learn more, check out these different timeframes to becoming an RN.
Are You Thinking About Changing Careers to Nursing?
BOS Medical Staffing is hiring nurses for positions throughout the greater Atlanta area. You could earn your CNA certification in 6 weeks and start earning an income while you work toward an advanced nursing degree. Check out all our available job opportunities today!