How to make a career change into nursing?

  1. 0
    HI All! I am making a career change as I have been contemplating on becoming an RN for two years now after I resigned from teaching in 2010 for family obligations. The budget cuts in teaching here in DFW Texas area makes it harder to find teaching positions...I want a stable career and nursing was my original major back in college anyways except I wasn't mature enough to study back then. I know one of my nurse friend stated how the economy is limiting nursing jobs too; however, I see more jobs online for nurses than teachers (maybe those nursing positions are competitive though).
    My husband and I are in need of insurance and additional income since we are surviving from my husband's family business with his parents. I also have a little eight month old to take care of. I would ideally like to attend an accelerated program for a BSN in 3-5 years. I don't think I have the energy to focus right now with my little one.


    1) How did you make a career change to nursing and get by financially?
    2) Will becoming a CNA although it's a low paying job, be worth it in the long run?
    I was also considering LVN through a community college program but other nurses seem to discourage it if I want to be a RN anyways.
    3) Getting my foot in the door as an Unit Clerk/Health Unit Coordinator without any hospital experience seems virtually impossible too. I feel stuck trying to find entry level hospital related jobs at this point. If I can't find any entry level jobs then my last option would be to find other jobs to get by until I am ready to be a full time student.

    I would appreciate your help and advice! Thanks!

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  2. 16 Comments...

  3. 1
    The best foot in the door is as a tech/pct. You'll do actual pt care and get to know the staff. Managers like to hire new grads who worked their unit as a tech because that person is known to them, i.e., they know if the person fits the culture and their skill set.

    There is a lot of financial aid out there. Not loans, but grants and scholarships. If you already have a degree, you can't get a Pell, but there's plenty of other cash floating around. I only paid out of pocket for my fees, books and uniform. The money is out there waiting to be found.
    pattylee1122 likes this.
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    Did you immediately pursue the RN/BSN program instead of PCT/LVN route? Thanks for your response! I really appreciate it!
  5. 1
    I chose a RN diploma program. My previous bachelors had all the non nursing classes I needed which transferred over. I had to take sciences (a&p I/II, chem org/in-org w/lab & micro) as my previous degree was non healthcare related.

    I enjoyed college. A lot. Which made it impossible for me to get into an accelerated BSN. "Your GPA was what?!?!" The local community college was waitlisted, hence the diploma program. Total elapsed time from choosing to become a nurse to passing the NCLEX was 2 years, 8 months.

    My in at the ER where I work was being a local EMT for years before going to nursing school. I knew them, they knew me.
    Nurse2BeInGA likes this.
  6. 1
    OMG! My situation is just like yours! I am currently teaching as a special ed teacher. Nursing was originally my major in college as well. This is my second go at this. In my area, there is only one part time nursing program where I would be able to work full time. Like you, I am trying to find a job in the healthcare area now but like you mentioned every job wants some kind of certification and/or experience. I just don't see myself teaching while attending nursing school especially since my heart is not in it anymore. However, I have to work since I have a one year old and we still need the insurance. My husband feels even if I do PCT work, our finances will suffer and I don't think loans will cover our mortgage and utilities. I think I am still going to get my CNA certification and see where it may lead me. Good Luck and let me know what you decide to do.
    pattylee1122 likes this.
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    I'm another teacher who retired from teaching (20 years) and am starting nursing school next week! Financially we don't need my income right now so when I quit to attend school it didn't make much of a difference. I started working as a tech/NA PRN a couple of months ago. My nurse manager and several of the nurses on my floor are graduates of my school and several of the techs are classmates of mine. I've already been told it will make my job search so much easier when I graduate since I'll have a couple of years of hospital experience.

    GOOD LUCK with your decision!
    pattylee1122 likes this.
  8. 1
    Hi Ummnasim! I am in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and teaching positions will be limited again this coming new year. I have been job hunting for other jobs since I feel like I won't be able to get into teaching with no job fairs coming up....Funny how our situation with finances and children and teaching are similar! I think I will try to finish a CNA program while looking for other jobs. I am highly attracted to nursing compared to other medical fields I have researched such as sonography or speech therapy. I read other forums and some LVN students volunteered at the hospitals but it was still hard to get in when they graduated.
    Right now I will have to slowly take my pre-reqs one course per semester if I can handle it with my almost one year old son. BSN routes for online or a weekend second degree program would be my best option in the future. Thanks for connecting with me!! I don't feel so "alone" in this job change.

    Please stay in touch and I will try to follow up on you also!
    -- Patty
    Last edit by pattylee1122 on Dec 31, '12 : Reason: To address to whom I am responding to
    ummnasim likes this.
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    To RunnerRN2b2014: Wow! You certainly have taught a long time - probably long enough to retire! May I ask why you decided to change into nursing? I think I want a job security and be in a career where there is a demand as well as a decent salary....I only taught four years in the public school and after taking two years off, all the public schools are on budget cuts. Did working as a CNA confirm whether nursing was a good fit for you or not? I also want to have a realistic view of what nursing is like without glamorizing the nursing field.

    Thanks for wishing me luck! Best wishes to your new career!
  10. 1
    Quote from pattylee1122
    Hi Ummnasim! I am in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and teaching positions will be limited again this coming new year. I have been job hunting for other jobs since I feel like I won't be able to get into teaching with no job fairs coming up....Funny how our situation with finances and children and teaching are similar! I think I will try to finish a CNA program while looking for other jobs. I am highly attracted to nursing compared to other medical fields I have researched such as sonography or speech therapy. I read other forums and some LVN students volunteered at the hospitals but it was still hard to get in when they graduated.
    Right now I will have to slowly take my pre-reqs one course per semester if I can handle it with my almost one year old son. BSN routes for online or a weekend second degree program would be my best option in the future. Thanks for connecting with me!! I don't feel so "alone" in this job change.

    Please stay in touch and I will try to follow up on you also!
    -- Patty
    So its just not my school district going through budget cuts! I am in Atlanta and my county is going through it pretty bad. We have had our pay cut almost 6% with rumors of another pay cut of 4% next year. I love the kids but I hate giving my all to the kids while being asked to do so much without any kind of praise! To make it worse, our county threatens our jobs causing low morale. I have always wanted to be a nurse and I was actually on the waiting list the first time I applied to nursing school. I was chosen right before the semester started that year but I don't think I was mentally ready to become a nurse. Just now maturing and working with the students I work with, I feel that now is the right time for me to follow this path. I have looked into other fields too but I love being there to care for someone holistically. Anyway that is my little spill. I will definitely keep in touch!
    pattylee1122 likes this.
  11. 2
    Quote from pattylee1122
    HI All! I am making a career change as I have been contemplating on becoming an RN for two years now after I resigned from teaching in 2010 for family obligations. . . .I know one of my nurse friend stated how the economy is limiting nursing jobs too; however, I see more jobs online for nurses than teachers (maybe those nursing positions are competitive though).
    . . .
    1) How did you make a career change to nursing and get by financially?
    2) Will becoming a CNA although it's a low paying job, be worth it in the long run?
    I was also considering LVN through a community college program but other nurses seem to discourage it if I want to be a RN anyways.
    3) Getting my foot in the door as an Unit Clerk/Health Unit Coordinator without any hospital experience seems virtually impossible too. I feel stuck trying to find entry level hospital related jobs at this point. If I can't find any entry level jobs then my last option would be to find other jobs to get by until I am ready to be a full time student.

    I would appreciate your help and advice! Thanks!
    As others have indicated, getting a job as a PCT or CNA provides a huge advantage in landing a nursing position after graduation. In most parts of the country, hospital jobs for new nursing grads are quite hard to come by and even positions in LTC are becoming difficult for new grads to get. This may not be the case in the DFW area but it will almost certainly be worthwhile for you to get - and keep - your foot in the door in an entry-level job at a local hospital. If there is a part-time nursing program in your area, it would really be an advantage to continue to work as a PCT or even in a clerical position while you are in school.

    Your post mentions the LVN program at your local community college. I would second the advice not to go that route for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the job market for LVN/LPN's is small and shrinking. More importantly, getting your LVN will require a fair amount of work and won't result in shortening the amount of work needed for your RN by a reciprocal amount. Many community colleges have ADN programs - perhaps one in an adjacent county offers one. Getting your RN this way while continuing as a data-entry clerk or PCT at a local hospital would be ideal, even if a BSN is your ultimate goal. I would think your chances of being hired as an RN after finishing the ADN program would be good and after that, you could do an on-line RN-BSN program.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am also a second-career, second-degree RN who attempted to make the change after 20 plus years in the workforce. I went the CC route to nursing in the evening/weekend program and kept my non-health care job while doing so. This turned out to be fortunate because in my area, the job market for new RN's - especially those without BSN's - is awful. I've just continued in my old job while completing my BSN and am now working on getting some certifications (ACLS, PALS) and waiting for the market to improve. While many of my classmates struggled to find nursing jobs, all of those who were already working as techs or CNAs (my state allows nursing students to sit for the CNA exam after successfully completing the first semester of nursing school) were hired on by the hospitals they were already working in.

    By the way, don't be fooled by the on-line advertisements for nursing jobs. I'd be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority state something like "one (or even two) year minimum experience required." If you really want to get a sense of the nursing job market, I would urge you to look at the BLS data for RN employment in your area over the past several years. Compare that data with the number of new RN's entering the workforce, which your state BON can provide. This will give you a much more accurate picture of the nursing job market in your area than looking at job postings (many of which are never filled).

    Best of luck to you.
    Last edit by chuckster on Jan 2, '13 : Reason: typo
    pattylee1122 and RunnerRN2b2014 like this.


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