this is a great time to go to school for nursing. you probably wont have to pay much for your education, if anything. you will however, have to sign up to work for a hospital that pays for your education.
my education cost approx 10,000, maybe less. but i paid for very little of it. the federal government picked up the tab in pell grants. at first, and for the prerequisites, they paid about half, but after i proved myself academically, the amounts increased. by my senior year the government paid for EVERYTHING, books, uniforms, supplies....i mean EVERYTHING. BUT ....i worked VERY hard to keep at least a B average, although you only had to maintain a "C".
there are so many programs these days to recruit nurses i cant imagine you having to pay much at all.
i graduated from my community college with an ADN. i am going to go back and get my BSN and the hospital i work for will pay for that if i sign up for a year...i am thinking about that.
i quit nursing for a while and needed a refresher course. i answered an ad in the paper and signed a contract to work for the hospital i am at now for one year. in return they paid for the course and gave me a stipend of 80 bucks a week while i was in school. it helped pay for busfare and other incidentals.
my year is up, boy did it go fast.
it was certainly worth it for me.
the average starting pay for hospital work in our area is 16-17 an hour for an associate or diploma. BSN's make 1 dollar more an hour. (no its not fair but could we skip the debate please?)
we have excellent benefits where i work. we have EVERYTHING.
as for flexibility...
we offer a weekend program to nurses with two years experience. nurses work 2-12 hour shifts between fri and sunday
at a higher rate of pay. it works out to be about the same as working 40 hours. but there are no paid holidays and you only get 24 hours paid vacation. there are other differences as well but nothing major. as with anything there are drawbacks to this too.
since we run on 8 and 12 hour shifts there is very little need for anything less than that so at our facility at least i doubt they would be interested in someone who could only do 4 hrs and certainly no less than that. but who knows these days.
going back to cost....books are the biggest expense. i have paid as much as 200 for a textbook. and you need lots of books. sometimes you can get them used for much less.
uniforms vary. we needed white uniforms and specially ordered pinafores ($24 each)and a nametag ($9) stethascopes also vary in price. i just bought a littman for about 50 bucks. being a paramedic, you probably already have one.
as far as job availability on graduation....
thats the hardest one to answer.
nursing shortages come and go. many experts say that this one is not going to resolve itself. who knows?
when i started school in the early 90's there was a shortage. you had to be ACCEPTED to get into nursing school
and i can remember being way excited that i got in. at the time i was raising four kids and having to work so it took me nearly four years to complete. by the time i graduated there were no jobs.
all of the hospitals that offered tuition programs had stopped and you pretty much couldnt get a job anywhere unless you knew someone. i can remember one LTC facility that started rn's at 9 bucks an hour. (i made 7 working at kmart)
if security is something thats important to you, as ive said, you can certainly sign a contract for employment in exchange for tuition.
does this help?