Janine (and others): Thank you so much for introducing yourself and this topic. I'd like to share some insights with you. First off, social work is a very rewarding career, however, it has some significant limitations. It is great that you have your B.S.W. and I assure you that if you do pursue nursing, your BSW training and skills will make you an even better nurse. I have my M.S.W. and worked as a social worker in health care for 12 years. Social work training, especially our emphasis on the person-in-situation relationship (or psycho-social status) is so beneficial in helping patients. While nurses too have a holistic philosophy, their training in this area is not as extensive as ours.
I have had some pretty interesting jobs in health care from nursing home social worker, hospital social worker-case manager, home health care, hospice, and even health insurance company case manager. And now after 12 years, I am pursuing a nursing degree. People often ask why and the simple answer is that there just aren't enough social work jobs. In order to make a decent living in social work, the MSW degree is a minimum. In fact, it is the minimum degree allowed for professional social work licensure. That said, even with an M.S.W. and license, you may still likely find yourself in a job earning non-professional wages (far lower then an Associate Degree RN). Example: my first job out of social work school, my M.S.W. salary was identical to that of an L.P.N.
When I earned my M.S.W. in 1992, the "higher paying" jobs were in health care but now.....so many of the jobs have been eliminated and/or taken over by RNs with the title "case manager". The reality is that if you want a career in health care, an RN license gives you much more job options and earning potential then the M.S.W. degree.
I do think that a potential RN, BSW combination (for you) or RN, MSW combination (for me) is a very marketable combo. What do others think?
Now.....I don't want to fully discourage you from social work. I just don't think that the field of "Medical Social Work" has the growth options it once did. You expressed a desire to work in the psych area. Well, as you may know, social work represents the largest professional group in the USA of mental health providers. Job in clinical social work (sometimes still referred to as psychiatric social work) are available and at times salaries can be fairly high, especially in a hospital based outpatient mental health clinic. Also, some clinical social workers set up their own private practices. If you are interested in becoming a psychotherapist, whether a nurse or a social worker, you must have your Master's degree.