How Healthcare Experience Can Lead to a Career Change to Nursing

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Making a career change to nursing with previous experience in healthcare is a smart move that could result in earning your BSN sooner than you might expect. If you have earned credits in medical school or worked as an EMT, an accelerated path toward nursing is well within your grasp.

Utica nursing student standing and smiling

If you have pursued a career in the healthcare industry and are interested in using that experience to become a registered nurse, Utica University can help you do just that. In this blog, we explore how past experience can make for a natural progression to nursing.

Whether you’ve been a medical student, EMT, pharmaceutical representative, or something else in the healthcare field, these experiences can support your pathway to nursing. With the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Utica University, you can make the career change to nursing in as few as 16 months.

Med School to Nursing School

When it comes to deciding on a medical career, nurse vs. doctor is a common dilemma. If you’ve already put work into becoming a doctor, but you’ve decided that path isn’t right for you, a great way to use the schooling and credits you’ve already gained is by transitioning them into a career as a nurse.

Some RNs come to the profession straight out of a four-year baccalaureate program, while others find their way after investing time in another career. And still others turn to nursing after exploring other educational tracks, including medical school. If you’ve already fulfilled some core requirements for medical school, there’s a good chance you may be able to begin your nursing education on an accelerated track.

If you’re having second thoughts about becoming a doctor, here are three reasons to think about nursing instead:

1. You can become a nurse faster.

Becoming a doctor is a worthy pursuit, but it’s a long one. Medical school typically takes four years to complete. Factor in three to eight years for your residency and the four years (or more) it took to earn your bachelor’s degree, and you could be looking at 16 years of education and training.

Multiple Utica students observing vitals in a clinical setting

The path to nursing, however, is much faster. Your first bachelor’s degree qualifies you for Utica’s ABSN program in New York, which you can finish in as few as 16 months. After you graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to earn your registered nurse (RN) license. The combined power of your nursing degree and RN license means you’ll meet the minimum qualifications for any entry-level nursing position — all in less than two years.

2. Nursing job prospects are growing at a faster rate.

RN jobs are expected to grow at twice the rate of jobs for physicians — six percent and three percent between 2021 and 2031, respectively. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that job prospects are strong for RNs but limited for physicians. Why the difference?

Many factors come into play. With physicians, technology plays a role. Advancements in technology allow physicians to treat more patients in less time, thereby reducing the number needed on staff. However, those same advancements are driving the need for more RNs — specifically RNs with a bachelor’s degree — to manage the growing complexities of healthcare delivery. Additionally, the need for nurses is increasing because of the aging of the baby boomer generation and the need for more care of chronic conditions.

3. You’re prepared for the demands of nursing school.

Students who come from liberal arts backgrounds like communication or business have to adjust to a scientific curriculum. However, pre-med majors are usually well versed in social and biological sciences — you’ve probably even met some of Utica’s nursing school prerequisites, which include anatomy and physiology I and II, chemistry and microbiology.

EMT to Nurse

Similarly to medical school, the training needed to become an emergency medical technician (EMT) can translate well to becoming a nurse. EMTs serve an important role in society. But despite being a noble profession, the average career expectancy of an EMT is just five years. Studies show that EMTs often leave the role because they are dissatisfied with the pay or desire a career change. In fact, many opt to make the transition from EMT to RN. That’s what this Utica University ABSN student did, and she wants her story to inspire others who are thinking about changing their careers to nursing.

Utica student smiling in a clinical setting

One Utica Student’s Transition from EMT to Nursing

Growing up in Queens, New York, Jessica didn’t set out to become a nurse. She attended college in the Tampa Bay area, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology. After graduation, she moved back to New York and became an EMT — a job that inspired her to go back to school for nursing.

Jessica admired her fellow EMTs, but she also respected the nurses she interacted with while dropping patients off at hospitals. Seeing the level of care these nurses provided to patients was the motivation she needed to make a change.

“The nurses were always on top of things and really cared about their patients. Being a people person, I wanted that same type of patient interaction,” she said.

Finding a Nursing Program

After spending a year in emergency medical services, Jessica started researching accelerated nursing programs. She came across our 16-month ABSN program in Syracuse, New York.

She was familiar with Utica because several of her friends studied at our main campus in Utica, New York. “I had heard Utica was a reputable program where the professors were invested in student success.” So, she decided to attend our accelerated nursing program.

Jessica described our admission process as straightforward and one of the best experiences she has had with a higher learning institution.

My admission representative was always in contact with me, making sure I was getting everything done. I never felt like I was alone in the process.

Starting Nursing School

Because of her biology degree, Jessica came to us with a solid understanding of the natural sciences. As a result, she met all but one of the ABSN prerequisite course requirements. However, she was able to conveniently complete that course online through Utica University.

Her EMT job also put her at an advantage when caring for patients. Having witnessed firsthand how nurses react in different patient care scenarios, her emotional preparedness was higher than most incoming students. “My past experiences have helped guide me through nursing school, especially when it comes to interacting with patients during clinicals,” she said.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative to Nurse

If you’ve had experience as a pharmaceutical sales representative, you’re already comfortable with a couple key nursing skills: understanding how medications affect the body and educating patients about their use and benefits.

A career as a nurse will use the skills you’ve gained as a pharmaceutical rep such as:

  • Communicating and collaborating with physicians
  • Understanding health conditions and the treatment plans for those conditions
  • Interacting with patients and healthcare workers

If you’re looking for a more personal and expansive way to help patients, a career switch to nursing might be right for you.

3 Utica student smiling at the camera

Ready to Apply?

If you think you have what it takes to apply to our ABSN program, contact our admission team today! And when speaking with a representative, be sure to ask about our three program start dates a year and our Prerequisite Priority (PREP) program ― both play an important role in getting you started on your nursing education as soon as possible.

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