Help Me to Figure Out My Career Path

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,
    I'm in my late 30s, I have a B.S. in biology, and I'm looking at changing careers from science editing (among other things) to nursing. Currently a new CNA on a med/surg unit and living with family on the east coast. I want to be an RN and live in San Francisco.
    I'm considering staying out east to do an accelerated BSN cheaply, then move to the Bay Area. However, I'm concerned about my job prospects as a new grad without a local professional network in California.
    Am I right to worry about this? Would I be better off taking a longer, more expensive path - working as a CNA in the Bay Area, then putting myself through a nursing program over there?
    On a personal note, I've been a rolling stone for over a decade and I feel anxiety and urgency about figuring out my career as I round the corner into middle age...
    I'm an excellent student and I'm confident I'll do well in whatever nursing program, fwiw.
    Thanks so much for your advice!

    __________________________________________________ _____________________

    Congrats on your decision! No worries, being in your 30s can be an advantage as a student and also as a nurse.

    Safe Option #1 Knowing the Bay Area market as I do, it is very competitive to land a job as a new grad. But the good news is, all you need is 1-2 years of experience
    and then you are golden.
    You could stay where you are, attend school, graduate, gain work experience, and then move to the Bay Area.

    Riskier Option # 2 Alternatively, it would help to hire on as a CNA in the hospital you want to eventually work at as an RN- working as a CNA only helps if you have insider advantage-
    and then you must be strategic about your end goal. This means being highly visible as a CNA, making an impression, and effective networking.

    It depends on your risk tolerance, and of course finances. The Bay Area is beautiful, but it's expensive to live there.


    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

    nurse-beth-purple-
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   maporcrn1
    I agree, the Bay Area is beautiful, but very expensive. The cost of living and going to school should be a factor. Keeping the cost of living and school affordable will pay off in the long run. An experienced nurse has a better chance of relocating.I have personally known many nurses who became RN's later in life and were glad that they chose nursing as a rewarding career.
  4. by   lifeatthebluffs
    Agreed. While it is certainly possible to take option #2, it will likely be much more difficult and result in much more debt than option #1. While I completely understand your urge to just move and and try to do it all in the Bay Area, getting into an accelerated program and getting a new grad position are each extremely competitive. However, getting a job with 1-2 years experience in the bay is pretty easy. Before you decide either way, definitely check out schooling options and cost of living where you are now vs in the city. For what it's worth I actually specifically moved away from the city for my accelerated BSN (due competitiveness and price of schools, as well as cost of living) and applied for a couple of new grad positions but was not hired (graduated from nursing school with honors, had lots of volunteering and extracurriculars, and had letters of recommendation from instructors, nurse managers, and physician executives). I now live in Sacramento, where I earn slightly less but spend quite a bit less on rent, and am close enough to the city to be able to enjoy it whenever I want.
  5. by   BeenThere2012
    Fully agree. And making it in SF on a CNA salary would be very rough. I live in Sacramento also. It's very pleasant and make plenty to live on. I do think it best to get degree back east and work a year or 2 first.
    I lived in the Bay Area for many years...the cost of living and crowding became too much.
    Last edit by BeenThere2012 on Sep 14 : Reason: typo Forgot to include the original post I'm commenting on.
  6. by   BeenThere2012
    One more thing...there are plenty of nice areas around SF that keep you close enough to enjoy the city and possibly work there to make more money, but keep your costs of living down.


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