Changing career to nursing at 25 - looking for programs in Pittsburgh

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    Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some insight/advice on switching my career to nursing. I already have a bachelor's in finance and accounting, worked in the field for 3 years and absolutely hated it. Went back to school for law and I am contemplating dropping out because I just do not see myself doing it forever. I have always wanted to pursue a career in nursing and feel as though I ignored my calling 3 times before. I am looking for advice on different nursing programs in the Pittsburgh area. I am looking at the second degree program at Duquesne. Is anyone in that program now or have advice on the admissions process? I will need to complete some of the prerequisites and was hoping to enroll in some classes this summer. Also, has anyone done an associates of nursing program part time at a community college? I am not sure yet if I can afford to not work for a year so I am looking at part time programs as well. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! Thank you!!

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  2. 10 Comments...

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    Maybe you should try shadowing a nurse or working as a CNA (certified nurse assistant) before jumping into another degree. That way you can be a little more certain before making the move. Working as a CNA would be low pay, but the experience could help land you a job after you get a degree should you still think it is the career for you. Shadowing a nurse for a shift would help give you a better idea of the day-to-day tasks and you could talk with nurses who've been in it for a while.
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    Thank you for the feedback. I am planning on talking to a few nurses that I know who have been in the field for several years. I am going to see if I can shadow them one day and get a better idea of what the job entails. What area of nursing do you work in? (if you don't mind me asking)
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    I am about to graduate in May from CCAC. I would recommend getting all your prerequisites there. They are very cheap and will transfer anywhere. As for the actual nursing program, CCAC is okay. You already have a degree so you might look into a diploma school such as UPMC Mercy or Shadyside. They are good programs with high pass rates for the boards. Plus, you are basically guaranteed a job upon graduation.

    CCAC gives you what you need and I know plenty of good nurses who came from there, but they are frustratingly unorganized. It is damn near impossible to get a straight answer out of people and they don't really care if you do well or not. Every now and then you'll stumble on a stellar instructor, but they are mostly powerless to help you out if you need it. I don't mean to bad mouth CCAC a lot, but there are better schools out there. It worked well for me because of the price and schedule, and I do feel that I got good experience. It's just something for you to think about.
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    Thank you for info on CCAC. I am looking to do my prerequisites there this summer. I was looking at their program too because it offers more flexibility. Did you feel that you got a lot of clinical experience there? I was looking at the program at St. Margaret's too, but the only bad thing is that it is full time for 22 months. I just want to be sure that I choose the program that will give me the most experience.
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    I just got accepted into West Penn School of Nursing. I am going into nursing at 30 years old. There are so many different path you can take in nursing so if you feel one doesn't work for you then there is always another path in nursing to try. I also recommend taking your perquisites at CCAC. It would be cheaper and more flexible. I am entering West Penn with 9 out of 10 co-requisite done. I think that helped with my application.

    I would recommend looking into West Penn School of Nursing or Heritage Valley Sewickley School of Nursing. Both schools are far cheaper than UPMC. My roommate is currently in CCAC's program and she feels that they are really disorganized. She feels they purposely make it even more stressful than it already is and would say "that's how it is in real life." One example is constantly changing times for classes and exams. I also feel CCAC favor newer students. I tried to retake classes that were 10 years old in hopes of starting a fresh academic career but they wouldn't allow me to do it. Luckily, I have a strong graduate career (80% done with my masters) so that helped with my applications.
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    What was your undergraduate degree in, if you don't mind me asking? Did you find that the admissions process for West Penn was difficult? I would like to do an accelerated program if possible because they are usually 12-18 months. But most of those programs require a 3.0 undergrad GPA and I only have a 2.8, so I am worried about my chances of getting in.
  9. 0
    I would urge you to first see if you are comfortable in the patient care role before even thinking about nursing. Try volunteering at a hospital or getting your EMT cert and joining your local fire/ambulance company.

    If, after getting your feet wet, you decide patient care is what you want to do, an Associate's Degree via your local community college will almost certainly be the lowest cost and fastest route to becoming an RN. Your can follow that with a low-cost online RN-BSN program. Unfortunately, a great deal of your previous coursework will not be relevant to nursing, though work in the social sciences, bio, chem, math and some liberal arts will transfer. This will still leave you with anatomy/physiology, nutrition and perhaps some social science (most CC's require at least developmental and abnormal psych, not just intro), in addition to the nursing courses. Depending on where you live however, the nursing education can be the easy part.

    I was one of those "mature" nursing students and have a varied educational background, with a couple of years in Engineering school, a BA in Communications and an MBA. I had all of the social and natural science prereqs plus math through Calc 2 and Stat, so I really had only nutrition, A&P and the nursing courses to compete my ADN. Because of my prior degrees, I had most of the work needed for my BSN, which took only about 12 months. Total time ADN-RN-BSN was about 4 years but keep in mind that I did everything on an evening/weekend part-time basis.

    I'd also urge you to look at that the job market for nurses in the Pittsburg are before you make the jump. Though the marked varies widely across the country, in many places (such as my area - greater Philadelphia), it is very difficult for new grads to find nursing jobs. My CC has one of the oldest and most well-regarded ADN programs in the country and in years past, its graduates were highly sought after. That has changed now with nearly all hospitals in the area hiring only BSN's and very few of those to boot. Most of my classmates struggled to find jobs, with most now going to LTC rather than hospitals. Even with a BSN however, it is difficult for new grads. Your area may be different but this is something worth looking into prior to investing the time, money and energy into getting a nursing degree. Not meant to discourage you but definitely worth taking into consideration in your decision.

    Best of luck to you.
    Last edit by chuckster on Feb 18, '13
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    Thanks for all of the insight. After you received your associates degree in nursing did you work as an RN and was it difficult for you to find a job? The community college in this area has a nursing program but I have heard that it is not so organized, but I am keeping all of my options open.
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    Quote from klc220

    What was your undergraduate degree in, if you don't mind me asking? Did you find that the admissions process for West Penn was difficult? I would like to do an accelerated program if possible because they are usually 12-18 months. But most of those programs require a 3.0 undergrad GPA and I only have a 2.8, so I am worried about my chances of getting in.
    My bachelor's is in Public Administration. I graduated with a 2.9 gpa. My masters is in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management. I currently have a 3.7 gpa.

    The West Penn (and Heritage Valley Sewickley) application require you to get transcripts from your previous schools and high school. It took me a while to contact them all to get transcripts. They also want referrals, preferably your science professors. The process is fairly easy and I don't see why it would be a problem. You will need to take an entrance exam. I found it to be easy and it covers topics that you should have went over in high school.

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