6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Second Career Nurse

Can I do it? Can I really change course and become a second career nurse? If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions more than a handful of times.

We get it. Deciding to start over down a new professional path is not a choice you enter into lightly. To help you get a clearer picture of what’s involved, we put together a list of questions you should ask yourself before making the life-changing decision to become a second career nurse.

And because we know it helps to hear from someone who’s been there before, we’re sharing the experiences of a few Utica College ABSN students — specifically, how they decided to pursue a second degree in nursing and why they chose our program to do so. Read on for their stories and advice.

#1: Why do I want to become a second career nurse?

Stacy L., Utica College ABSN student

Nursing school is a major commitment, so you want to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Whether you’re looking for increased job security, flexibility or satisfaction, nursing is a viable second career choice for you.

Consider why current Utica College ABSN student Stacy L. decided to change professional paths. She worked as a receptionist at an accounting firm, then as a surgical sales representative in the operating room selling medical devices before deciding she wanted to pursue a more stimulating profession.

“In the operating room, that’s where I met and worked with a lot of nurses,” she says. “They were very inspiring and compassionate with patients. There was just this point where I thought ‘that’s what I want to do, work with patients. I want to see their progress.’”

#2: I know nothing about nursing school. How do I start the process?

Lester A., Utica College ABSN student

This is your second degree, so you likely don’t know all the ins and outs of getting into nursing school or what kind of program would be the best fit for you.

Our second-degree students say they chose Utica College’s Accelerated B.S. in Nursing program because it offers so much support from the very beginning. It all starts with our team of admissions representatives, who will tell you exactly what you need to get into our program, answer any questions you have about your eligibility for the program, the admissions process, what prerequisites you’ll need to complete and more.

Take Utica College ABSN student Lester A.’s reasons for wanting to become a nurse and his experience applying to our nursing program as an example. His plans to play pro basketball in England fell through, but he took nursing prerequisites in college as the foundation for a professional backup plan. However, he wasn’t 100% sure his path led to nursing until a couple life experiences called him in that direction, so he filled out a form on our website to request more information.

An admissions representative contacted him the next day.

“Coming from a basketball background, it felt like they were recruiting me. They wanted me here,” he says. “I wanted to go to nursing school but I had no idea how to do that.”

#3: How quickly can I transition to nursing as a second career?

Jill K., Utica College ABSN student

If you’re planning to become a second career nurse, you likely want to minimize the amount of time it takes to make the transition. You don’t necessarily desire to pursue a four-year degree.

Just like Utica College ABSN student Jill K., you want a fast-paced program so you can start down the path toward your new profession as soon as possible.

Shecoached Division 1 ice hockey at Brown University and studied education during her time as an undergrad, but ultimately decided to make the switch to nursing to pursue her passion for helping people.

Lucky for her (and you), online-based ABSN programs exist, making it possible to earn a B.S. in Nursing on a faster timeline than traditional four-year programs. Through Utica College’s ABSN program, she’s working to complete her degree in 16 months.

“With the quick pace of the 16-month program, you get to learn a lot. You get to dive in,” she says. “You’re getting tested every two to three weeks on the material you’re studying. I’ve put such a time commitment in a short amount of time into studying that I’ve learned a tremendous amount.”

We also offer three start dates each year — January, May and August — meaning your first step on the path toward your new profession can start when works best for YOU.

#4: Do I have what it takes to get through nursing school?

Simply put: If you have the passion, then YES! Our students admit the Utica College ABSN program is by no means easy, but the end result — a B.S. in Nursing — is what’s motivating them through all the late nights studying for exams and long hours of labs and clinical rotations.

“You have to make a commitment to do 16 months of school and focus on studying and becoming the best nurse you can at the end of those 16 months,” Jill says. “It’s a short time period and it goes fast. You have to stay on top of your academics to be successful in the program.”

#5: How else can I prepare myself for how hard nursing school will be?

Time and again, the biggest piece of advice ABSN students offer to those considering our program on how to be a successful student is taking advantage of the support opportunities available to you. Create a support network with your family, friends, cohort and instructors.

Lester and Stacy say that’s easy to do with such a supportive network of faculty and group of fellow students in their respective cohorts:

Faculty and instructors

“I have conversations with lab professors not even about classes sometimes…just about life. Like, what should I be doing? What did you see as a nurse doing this? Or, where do you think I should be in five years?” Lester says. “I always ask because they have this experience. They’ve been working 10+, 20+ years. I love to gain that knowledge.”


“If you’re in nursing school, really only nursing students are going to know what you’re going through. I’ve met some of my best friends ever in the program,” Stacy says. “It’s a very supportive environment. Everyone shares their perspectives, we share our notes, we make sure everyone can understand. Ultimately we’re all going to depend on each other, whether it’s in the program or out in the field practicing.”

#6: What can I do with my nursing degree?

Obviously, you are considering a nursing degree program because you want to be a nurse. You may already know that a great thing about earning your B.S. in Nursing is once you finish, your odds of finding a job are high. Due to baby boomers retiring and living longer, nurses are and will be in high demand: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of registered nurses to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Another benefit to earning a nursing degree is all the career options that become available to you. Working as a hospital nurse is not your only option. As a nurse you have a lot of flexibility not only with your future work environment, but with where you want to live as well.

“What’s nice about a nursing degree is that you can go anywhere in the country,” Jill says. “I could go to Chicago and have an RN job or I could stay in Syracuse or I could go to California. There’s travel nursing. There’s so many options after this program. I haven’t thought much past my next test but it is comforting to know that I could be anywhere in the entire world and practice nursing.”

Put your future into focus

Does your future come into focus when you picture yourself as a nurse? Even if the image in your mind is still a little blurry, our team of admission representatives can help you fine-tune your plan to change careers. Contact us to learn more about how you can earn your B.S. in Nursing at Utica College in as few as 16 months.

Don't Wait on Your Nursing Future

Our ABSN has three start dates a year, so you can begin nursing school whenever you're ready.

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