Nursing is a good career for a variety of reasons. Some of the top benefits include the ability to make a difference in the lives of others, exciting career advances, and the opportunity to maintain a desirable work-life balance. Nursing is one of the few professions that give individuals enormous flexibility and professional growth, along with favorable wages and job satisfaction.
You might fear it is too late to think about nursing as a second career based on your age, length of time since college, or lack of experience in the field. Advisers at Rockhurst University understand these concerns as you consider nursing as a second career, and they are ready to answer your questions about financial responsibilities, time obligations, admission requirements, and more.
A Second Career in Nursing Can Be Worth it
There are multiple reasons to choose nursing as a second career. Those interested in this specialty are typically looking for both personal and professional fulfillment. They desire to help other people while utilizing their intelligence and tapping into interprofessional skills gained from previous work experiences.
Nursing as a second career can provide both emotional and financial rewards. It offers entry into an intellectually challenging profession with a great deal of versatility and flexibility. Essentially, nursing can be the entire package—a career with strong financial stability and job satisfaction throughout your lifetime.
The Top 6 Reasons to Pursue a Second Career in Nursing
Here are just a few reasons to explore a second career in nursing, and why it is not too late to pursue this path.
Reason #1: Flexibility
One of the most appealing elements of a nursing career is the flexibility it offers. The various types of work schedules can easily suit a range of family-oriented and personal lifestyles. Many nurses are parents who use the wide range of schedule opportunities to minimize child care expenses. Others will group working days to enjoy extended free time without using paid time off.
Some nurses will readily trade longer shifts for additional days off of work, while others prefer a more structured schedule without the requirement of nights and weekends. Whatever the need may be, there is certainly a position that meets it. This can be a welcome change when choosing nursing as a second career.
Reason #2: Versatility and Professional Growth
Another reason to choose nursing is the amount of versatility the career can provide. Nurses may begin their journey in one aspect of health care and retire from a completely different specialty. Nurses can follow a variety of pathways that serve nearly any need in their stage of life.
Nurses are not always found in hospital emergency departments, operating rooms, or medical-surgical units. They also manage busy medical offices, perform phone triage at children’s hospitals, administer vaccines in rural mobile clinics, and coach patients through physical and psychological rehabilitation.
Nurses additionally have ample opportunities to advance their careers with further education by becoming advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse administrators, congressional leaders, Ph.D. educators and researchers, and independent entrepreneurs. There is no limit to how much a nurse can grow professionally, which is an attractive advantage of nursing as a second career.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Holding advanced degrees in specialty areas of nursing, these highly-trained individuals provide patient care in various settings. APRNs such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are growing in both necessity and popularity across the nation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the demand for APRNs will increase collectively by a staggering 45% from 2020 to 2030.
APRNs have the freedom to choose a specialty that suits them personally and professionally while experiencing significant growth potential.
Reason #3: Nurses Are in High Demand
Aside from the growing demand for APRNs, registered nurses are increasingly needed to fill a severe national shortage. The World Health Statistics Report cites a shortage of almost 4 million nurses to meet health care needs in the United States. Further data from the BLS points to a 9% growth in RN employment rates from 2020-2030.
Additionally, nurses with prior experience in the workforce are sought after as top-quality candidates. They are known to be great critical thinkers, fast learners, and dedicated to their job. Most employers are eager to hire those who have chosen nursing as a second career because they bring a layer of education, professional maturity, and alternate work experience as newly trained clinicians.
Reason #4: Personal Growth
Certain intrinsic factors play a key role in the personal growth involved in becoming a nurse. Many nurses who thrive within the profession find a sense of achievement, passion, and deep purpose associated with their work. It is difficult to compare these personal growth measures to other professions and may be a reason why those who try nursing as a second career experience job satisfaction.
Many nurses enter into the profession to simply fulfill a need to help others. The satisfaction of knowing that a personal action has positively influenced someone else’s healing is immeasurable.
Reason #5: Job Satisfaction
A 2018 Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report cited by the Advisory Board found that 40% of surveyed registered nurses named "helping people and making a difference" to be the most rewarding aspect of their jobs. What's more, surveyed nurses were 94% to 96% satisfied with their career choice.
Recent challenges such as the COVID-19 crisis have certainly put nurses’ resilience to the test. Bedside nurses are shifting their career focus to support a nation in need of their expertise. Many are also finding job satisfaction in serving other areas of health care with dire needs, such as policy reform, rural travel nursing, or education.
Reason #6: Financial Rewards
Beyond the flexibility and versatility, nursing offers great pay and financial rewards. The median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 in 2020, according to BLS. Severe nursing shortages are leading to additional pay incentives, such as:
- Sign-on bonuses
- Travel nursing perks
- Shift differential
- Bonus shifts
- Overtime pay
Additionally, many institutions provide nurses with favorable benefits packages. These can include student loan repayment programs, 401K matching incentives, and reasonable medical insurance rates and coverage. Depending on the program, benefits may equate to an additional 20% of the base salary and up to $100,000 annually.
Transitioning to Nursing as a Second Career
Nurses have been recognized as the top trusted professional for 20 of the last 21 years, according to Gallup. The various benefits of nursing as a career also come with the pride of working in a highly respected, appreciated, and implicitly trusted profession. It is never too late to choose nursing as a second career, as many individuals have found great value and satisfaction in making this change at all stages.
Transitioning into nursing as a second career may seem daunting, but education programs such as Rockhurst University’s Hybrid Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Hybrid ABSN) program make the process seamless and efficient. Nursing students in second career programs offer a breadth of knowledge, education, and workforce experience. Let Rockhurst advisers help you navigate the admission process and get you on the right track toward an exciting and fulfilling new career as a nurse.