No Pain, No Gain: Going to Nursing School Doesn’t Have to Be Painful
Got a paper cut? That’s probably a two or so. Broken finger? You may be looking at a five or six. Natural childbirth? Now you’re talking nine or ten territory.
Most of us have had to describe our pain to a doctor or nurse at some point using the Pain Measurement Scale. But there are many different types of pain—physical, emotional, financial—and different levels of tolerance for each, which got us thinking that this familiar nurse’s tool might help us answer question: How painful is it to go back to nursing school?
We took a look at a few key steps of the process, and the answer might surprise you.
The most painful/difficult part of the process may well be at the very start: deciding to finally take the plunge. Will you be happy as a nurse? Can you balance school with the rest of your life? Can you adjust to being a student again? Especially if you’re exploring accelerated nursing programs in Florida, you may be having some doubts about whether or not you can handle the fast-paced, part-online curriculum that accompanies such programs. Our best advice for managing “decision pain” is to do your homework. Research different programs. Talk to admissions advisors, faculty and current nursing students. Speak with actual nurses to understand what’s really involved in this career path. Seek advice from family, friends and others who would be your support system while in school. The decision process itself may take a while and be a 6 or a 7 on the pain scale, but most life-changing decisions are. Once you’ve committed to your goal, the rest is smooth sailing.
Navigating the Admissions Process
With programs like the Utica College’s second bachelor degree nursing programs, prospective students navigate the admissions process with relatively little pain, thanks to their personal admissions advisors. From the moment you inquire about the program, you are given an advisor whose job it is to understand your questions and concerns, help you find solutions and keep you focused and moving forward toward your end goal of becoming an RN. Your advisor serves as an advocate, information source and motivator as you take your prerequisites and prepare your application. He/she may also become a friend and cheerleader along the way. In fact, many of our Utica accelerated nursing students keep in touch with their advisors long after they begin the program.
The field in which you earned your first bachelor’s degree will help determine how many prerequisite courses you need to take in order to apply to nursing school. Getting these courses out of the way can take some time, but the process doesn’t have to be painful. Along with local community colleges, there are options for completing nursing school prerequisites online, and some of these allow you to complete more than one course at a time. Your advisor can help you develop a personalized academic plan for completing your prerequisites as well as your other pre-enrollment milestones.
Uh-oh. . . the money piece. That part always hurts, right? Not necessarily– it depends on your time horizon. In the short term, going back to school certainly involves a serious financial commitment, and you may need to do a lot of legwork with the school’s financial aid office, private lenders and/or scholarship resources in order to fund your nursing education. So why do we see this as only a 4 or 5? Over the long term, the investment you make in earning a nursing degree yields excellent returns in terms of career satisfaction, meaningful impact and even financial gain. RNs with a bachelor’s degree enter the field at higher starting salaries than those without a bachelor’s, and their education opens up doors to future advancement opportunities or nursing specialty areas that can increase earnings potential even more. What may feel like an 8 or 9 today financially may seem more like a 2 or 3 down the road once you’re in the midst of a successful career as a nurse. In fact, given the predicted level of demand for nurses over the next decade, an investment in a nursing career right now may be one of the smartest long-term financial moves you’ll ever make.
Of course, there will be other lifestyle adjustments on the road toward becoming a nurse, and they may not all be quick and painless. Talk to an advisor today who can help you navigate your decision to become a nurse. With an accelerated nursing program that prepares you to pass your NCLEX exam and become an RN in 16 months, it won’t be long before you’re the one asking, “So, how much does it hurt?”