Veteran to BSN: Making a Career Change to Nursing

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It's possible to transition from being a military veteran to BSN-prepared nurse. If you have prior non-nursing college education, look for an accelerated nursing program that allows you to graduate in 16 months. A career change to nursing offers a meaningful line of work, geographic flexibility and opportunities for advancement.

veteran nurse wearing camouflage uniform and a face mask

People who enlist in the military are generally passionate about serving their country and their community. You can carry this same spirit of service into your next career as a civilian. If you’re considering a career change to nursing, you can make the veteran to BSN transition at Utica University. Your prior non-nursing experience is valued here, and our knowledgeable admission representatives fully support you.

From the Military to Nursing: Choosing the Right Program

Choosing the right nursing degree program is crucial. You want to graduate as quickly as possible and enter the nursing field. However, you also want to choose a program that offers the support you need from start to finish.

At Utica University, qualifying students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months with our accelerated nursing program, the ABSN, or our Transfer BSN program pathway. Both are viable alternatives to a four-year B.S. in Nursing degree.

The ABSN program works by leveraging your prior non-nursing college education. To be eligible to apply to the ABSN program, you must have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. To be eligible for the Transfer BSN program pathway, you must have either an associate degree or a minimum of 65 college credits. For both programs, you must also meet minimum GPA requirements and complete some degree requirement courses, such as microbiology and statistics.

When you get in touch with Utica University’s ABSN and Transfer BSN programs, you’ll be assigned a dedicated admission representative to walk you through each step of the admission process. Your representative will evaluate your eligibility for the program and help you create a plan for meeting all the requirements.

Choosing our ABSN or Transfer BSN program also comes with other perks for your military to BSN transition. You can choose from three start dates per year, which offers greater flexibility for career changers. Plus, Utica University offers a hybrid learning model. You’ll complete courses online for your convenience, along with in-person experiential learning components like labs and clinical rotations.

How Utica University Supports the Veteran to BSN Transition

Utica student smiling in front of manikin in hospital bed

Utica University is a private, nonprofit university that proudly supports military veterans interested in making a career change to nursing. Our approach to education embraces community service and ethical behavior — values that military veterans tend to hold dear. We provide personalized student attention to support each learner’s success.

You’ll likely have plenty of questions as you consider making the veteran to BSN transition. Your dedicated admission representative will ensure that you receive in-depth answers to all your questions and are fully informed before deciding your future.

In addition, once you’re accepted into the ABSN program or Transfer BSN program pathway, you’ll be assigned to a dedicated Academic Success Coach. Your Success Coach will be there for you from start to finish. You can request phone or in-person meetings to discuss anything you’d like with your Success Coach, whether academic, professional or personal.

Your Success Coach can facilitate your integration into the program and guide you as you adjust to civilian life as a nursing student. You can also turn to your Success Coach for assistance coordinating study groups, peer tutoring, course management and more. Whether you’re experiencing difficulties with your new civilian life or problems with stress management, your Success Coach will be there to help.

Top Benefits of Choosing a Civilian Career in Nursing

Why make the military to nursing transition? There are many reasons why earning a nursing degree after your military service could be the right choice for you, no matter which branch of the military you served in or your military occupational specialty (MOS).

Service to Others Is a Natural Fit

People enlist in the military for a variety of reasons, but they are all united by their shared mission: to serve their country. As a military veteran, you may be motivated to transition into a civilian career aligned with the ideal of service to others. A nursing career would certainly enable you to serve your community. Nurses are there for their patients through thick and thin, providing a compassionate ear and a healing touch.

Career Versatility: Lots of Specialization Options

Another similarity shared between the nursing field and the military is the opportunity to specialize. Just as a military service member might pursue a specialty in anything from cybercrime to aircraft maintenance to engineering, a nurse can pursue a specialty in various medical conditions and patient populations. Here’s a quick look at just a few of your specialization options in nursing:

  • Pediatrics
  • Oncology
  • Dialysis
  • Primary care
  • Urgent care
  • Emergency medicine
  • Critical care
  • Family health
Utica nursing student smiling holding book

Is nursing a good career? Here, you can read all about 10 reasons why it is.

Geographic Flexibility Thanks to the High Demand

Although the nursing field and the military share some similarities, there are also considerable differences. For example, those who enlist in the military may be posted across the U.S. or deployed around the world. They may not have a voice regarding where they’ll live. In contrast, nurses have a great deal more geographic flexibility.

Registered nurses (RN) are in high demand across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for RNs is expected to be 6% from 2021 through 2031, as fast as average. This indicates that healthcare employers are expected to hire about 195,400 new nurses over this period. According to the BLS, the states with the highest numbers of employed RNs are:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
Nursing student with stethoscope working on a manikin

However, RNs are needed everywhere. When you obtain nursing licensure, you can work in a bustling metropolitan area or a rural, laid-back town.

Plenty of Opportunities for Advancement

Another benefit of a career change to nursing after the military is the advancement opportunities. Just as the military provides a clear pathway for promotion, the nursing field offers a path up the career ladder for those transitioning from the military to nursing.

After you earn your B.S. in Nursing at Utica University, you’ll qualify to sit for the NCLEX licensure exam. Once you’re a licensed RN, you can gain a few years of work experience in nursing before heading back to school for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). You might then pursue board certification in your chosen specialty, allowing you to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

Many Military Skills Can Transfer to Nursing

No matter your military role, you undoubtedly learned a few skills that can transfer to the nursing field. These include:

  • Time management
  • Personal accountability
  • Leadership
  • Ethics and integrity
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving

You probably also learned how to keep a level head and perform well under pressure — both important attributes of an effective nurse.

Utica student in stethoscope working with another student on a manikin

Financial Aid for Military Servicemembers Headed to School

As a military veteran, the Post-9/11 GI Bill can help you pay to attend the ABSN program or BSN program pathway at Utica University. Your GI benefits can cover all or some of the cost of tuition and provide funding for school supplies, housing and relocation expenses.

Utica University’s Office of Student Financial Services can help you determine how to pay for your accelerated nursing degree. In addition to your GI benefits, you may be eligible to receive federal grants or loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

hands holding a jar full of change

Wondering how to pay for nursing school? This blog breaks down your options.

Ready to Go From Military to BSN?

If you’re thinking of transitioning from the military to nursing, you’ll find a supportive community at Utica University. Our ABSN and BSN program pathways will allow you to graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months, and our friendly admission team will help you navigate the application process step by step.

Contact an admission representative to get started today.

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