Considering Nursing as a Second Career? 5 Steps to Succeed as an ABSN Student

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If you’re interested in pursuing nursing as a second career, you’ll need to make sure you’re equipped to succeed in nursing school. With careful consideration and choosing the right option like Utica University’s ABSN program, you can earn your degree and become a licensed practicing nurse.

Utica ABSN student sitting and smiling

Is it really possible to change course and pursue nursing as a second career? If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably asked yourself this question more than a handful of times.

We get it. Deciding to start over down a new career path is not a choice you enter into lightly.

However, Utica University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program means that for qualified applicants, a nursing career could be as few as 16 months away. To help you get a clearer picture of what’s involved in a nursing education and career, we put together a list of steps you can go through in order to figure out if making the life-changing decision of changing your career to nursing makes sense.

And because we know it helps to hear from someone who’s been there before, we’re sharing the experiences of a few Utica University 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.

Step #1: Determine Why You Want to Make a Career Change to Nursing

Nursing students and instructor practicing in a clinical setting

Making a career change to nursing is a major commitment, so you want to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Utica University is grounded in a strong educational philosophy of integrity and ethical behavior, and nursing requires care and compassion for each individual. As a nurse, you are committed to acting as a patient’s advocate, so if you don’t have the strong urge for care and empathy, you may want to reconsider nursing as a second career.

For those who feel they’re suited to becoming a nurse, you’ve decided to consider a growing, lucrative career field. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 9 percent by 2030. Whether you’re pursuing nursing for increased job security, flexibility or satisfaction, nursing could be a viable second career choice for you.

Why One Utica ABSN Student Chose to Change Careers

Consider why current Utica University 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. 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.'

Stacy L., Utica University ABSN student

Step #2: Start the Process

Now that you have recognized why you want to pursue nursing as a second career, now you need to begin to plan for this life change. There are various aspects of nursing school that are no doubt still very foreign to you. It is time to consider what kind of program would be the best fit for you. In this time of planning and considering, it is important to think about how this change will affect your family, your budget, and your schedule.

First, Consult with Your Family

Whether you are in a relationship or you’re single, you will need your friends’ and family’s support. The time to talk to them is either before or during the research phase of looking for an accelerated nursing program.

2 Utica nursing students smiling with their arms crossed

Once you start nursing school, things are going to change. It’s better to be prepared and discuss what life will be like when you’re an accelerated nursing student.

  • You won’t have much free time. Accelerated nursing programs are fast paced and require constant dedication. The days will likely be long, starting early and ending late. You might not always be there to help your kids with their homework or be able to have dinner with your friends several nights a week. You have your own homework to do, your own exams to study for, and you may not be able to get away from it all like you used to. There isn’t much you can do to prevent this from happening but communicating about it early on will solve a lot of issues before they arise.
  • You’re going to need emotional support. You’re about to leave a job you have grown used to and start a brand-new chapter in your life. It’s unknown. It’s unpredictable. It can be intimidating. You may have days where you’re in a simulation lab and can’t remember your lessons, perhaps leading you to doubt yourself. And this is perfectly natural. To avoid meltdowns, talk to your family and friends. Let them know that you may need their encouragement from time to time.
  • Stress the importance of ongoing communication. These early conversations you have with your loved ones should not be a one-and-done talk. On-going communication is key to making sure the stress in your life is about your studies and not about your home life. This should come from you as well. Communicating openly about what you’re going through will ensure your friends and family understand your situation.

Plan Your Budget

Choosing a career switch to nursing was the easy part. Paying for your education to make your nursing career a reality — that’s a challenge. But not impossible to overcome.

If you don’t already know how much your monthly bills are, now is the time to figure that out.

Creating a budget can be stressful. Just remember that it’s only temporary. Utica University’s accelerated nursing program is 16 months long. After that, you’ll be back to earning a regular salary (and probably a better salary than you had at your old job.)

Plan Your Schedule

You may or may not be able to accomplish this part before you get your syllabus, but you can at least get a head start.

First, create a calendar. Write down birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, kids’ soccer practice, etc., so you won’t forget what’s going on in your personal life.

Next, look for chunks of time that could be used for studying and homework. There may be a pattern, or there might not be.

When you actually start accelerated nursing school, you’ll get a syllabus with important dates. Put these in your calendar. Do the days/times you thought you could study still work with your syllabus? Does something need to change? Either way, you now have a head start on staying organized.

If you need more help planning your schedule, check out these time management tips.

Step #3: Choose the Right ABSN Program for You

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. A traditional four-year degree might be too long for those who already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. You need a program that will work for you. One that is accredited, will fit your lifestyle, and gets you where you want to go.

Why Utica University is a Good Fit

  1. Flexible online-based coursework. Utica has an accelerated nursing program in Syracuse, New York, and Albany, New York. While nursing coursework is completed online, you will need to be physically present for the simulation labs and clinical rotations. If you live in or near either of these two locations, you won’t need to relocate to attend the program.
  2. Multiple start dates. To add to Utica’s accelerated B.S. in Nursing program flexibility, you can choose between three start dates (spring, summer, and fall). So if there is a time of year that would be easier to start school, you have a choice.
  3. An excellent program. Combining online coursework, hands-on learning, and real-world clinical practice over four semesters, Utica University’s ABSN program curriculum contains 62 credit hours — including 225 hours of labs and 588 hours of clinical rotations. All this work prepares students for the NCLEX exam.

Step #4: Assess Whether You Have What It Takes to Become a Nurse

If you are passionate and dedicated, and you have the proper amount of time to commit to studying and assignments, you have all the tools you will need to succeed as an accelerated nursing student. Our students admit the Utica University ABSN program is by no means easy, but the end result — a B.S. in Nursing — makes all the time spent on studying, coursework, labs and clinical rotations worth it.

Student preparing for nursing school with stethoscope on table

Discover everything you can do to prepare for nursing school.

Step #5: Create a Plan for a Support System

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.

Some of the best options for gaining support include speaking with faculty and instructors, as well as working with your cohort. You are going through the experience of an accelerated nursing curriculum together, and different students will help to provide different perspectives.

Start Your Second Career in Nursing

Does your future come into focus when you picture yourself as a nurse? If nursing as a second career feels like the right path for you, our team of admission representatives can help you fine-tune your plan to change careers to nursing. Contact us to learn more about how you can earn your B.S. in Nursing at Utica University in as few as 16 months.

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist