Career change advice

Nurses General Nursing


Hi everyone,

I've been looking around this website for a few weeks now, and I thought it was time to ask a question. I'm considering a change from my current career to nursing. I'm not going to post the details, but its enough to say that my career doesn't do it for me (and it never has).

I'm a part time EMT in a busy 911 system, and have been for 2+ years now. I enjoy the work. I went into EMS to get a basic feel for the healthcare system - to see if it might be something I want to do, and if I could handle the environment. Aside from EMS, I'm enrolled in an A&P course for the fall semester. Just one class, and I haven't applied for any nursing programs yet, because I want to take things slowly to make sure that I don't fall into the same trap that I did with my current job.

On to the questions. I'm planning on applying for an associate degree program, because of cost and flexibility (so I can work while in school). I think I want to go into pediatrics, and I enjoy the trauma/emergency med side of things. Does an associates degree sound like a good fit, or would I need a BSN for that career path - does peds require more from a candidate?

On a more specific note, I live in a major metro area and plan to stay. I'm hoping to make minimum $25/hr. Is this a reasonable expectation? Also, I understand that nursing is usually flexible in its scheduling. Is this true, and is it in terms of vacation/sick days or shift times?

My goal is to get an understanding of the job, something I didn't do the first time around. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. :up:

Specializes in Gyn/STD clinic tech.


i had all of gen ed classes too, and then some. i was still in class 5 hours a day, studying 4-5 hours a night...

nursing programs, pretty much all of them, will advise you not to work. nursing school is not like regular school.

i made an easy a in anatomy, studying normally, but nursing school requires hours of study.

On working in school: Sure, it's better not to work if you can afford it, but I actually worked part-time in a hospital that provided tuition reimbursement while completing one of the accelerated 1 year BSN programs. I went to school 35 hours a week, studied about 10-15 hours a week, and worked 16 hours on the weekend. I graduated with a 3.9 GPA and I don't feel like working was a major detriment to my education (to my social life, yes, but what's one year?) So on that note it comes down to you--you know how much you can take on and still be successful. You also know if you're the kind of person who will 'freak out' if you get all B+'s instead of all A's.

On the cost: Don't forget to figure in that year of nursing salary ($45,000+) that you can make if you graduate in a year from an accelerated program. An ADN will take 2 years, and may have a long waiting list for clinicals. Plus, most hospitals will pay back at least $10,000 in loans. Once I figure in my tuition reimbursement and loan repayment, my accelerated BSN will have cost me about $4000.

On job possibilities. I live in a major metro area that sadly only pays 20/hr to start. We're saturated with nursing schools and most of the ADN nurses I know start out in a nursing home. A couple magnet teaching hospitals in the area won't even consider you without a BSN. (I'm not saying that is right, just how it is where I am.) Check with some HR recruiters in your area before you make any definite decisions.

Good luck :)

Specializes in ICU.

as far as ASN vs BSN in who's 'more' of an RN??? I don't know that there's an answer for that. I would comment from the hiring point of view that most hospital HR departments get to collect and rank the applicants before they are seen by the departments they wish to work in. With many hospitals working for magnet status, BSN's are definitely preferred. It was explained to me that in a pool of say... 100 RN applications, a point system is used to rank candidates based on qualifications for the job. If BSN is preferred... maybe they assign 20 points to BSN and 5 to just ASN. You can see this gives the BSN grad a distinct advantage.

I must also agree with the previous posters who say that an ASN nurse is just as good. Very true. Some of the most fantastic nurses I have had the privilege to work with are 'just AS RN's' but they have amazing experience. It's up to the department to see and hire the right RN, it's up to you to become that RN.

I would advise getting your ASN first if your not sure you'll like nursing... you can always continue there are so many ASN-BSN programs out there, many designed for the working student. The trend nationally seems to emphasize education in nursing, so BSN would be the ultimate goal...

Lots of us prehospital people are migrating to nursing, but it is a different animal! One of my favorite RN partners would remind me to leave the critical care flight paramedic in my back pocket, and embrace the nurse. You will have such an advantage over your non-EMS classmates, but nursing is nursing, and EMS is EMS.... Enjoy your clinical time and think... could I work here?? would I enjoy coming to work here?? Is this a fit for me??

Good luck!!

This is really great advice and I appreciate it all.

I had no idea about tuition reimbursement from hospitals. Lilla, do you have any more info about that, or do you know where I can find some?

Charmander, I work with a few guys who are ALS providers, but they are RN's with a pre-hospital certification and not paramedics. They work in the hospital primarily, but also serve as ALS field providers. I'm hoping to do this also if I do become an RN.

Does anyone know anything more about the tuition reimbursement programs?

I am a career changer, and have entered nursing recently. I am glad that I got the BSN, I had alot of job offers when getting out of school. Friends of mine who went to ADN programs and graduated at the same time are having problems getting jobs. THis may not be the case everywhere in the US. I live in a major metropolitan area on the east coast. And in job interviews here The BSN is carte blanche for a new grad. I am not saying that there are not plenty of ADN nurses in ED and critical are areas who have been there for 5-10 yrs or more. But I have found in my area the standard of ENTRY into specailty areas is the BSN. We have many magnet hospitals in our area and in order to get newly hired there you must have the BSN.

OP, I have a degree already, soon to complete my ADN as well.

There are a few EMTs and Paramedics in my larger class that were grabbed by the local ERs for tech work while going to school (they are getting tuition reimbursement). Like most of us, especially second career people who have already paid back many many thousands the first time around for college, ADN is the way to go. You can work and do RN to masters (if you already have a degree) with tuition reimbursement. You'll find many, many places on this site, mention that ADN is quite competitive to get into, so brace yourself, but don't be discouraged!!!

Oops have to edit to add: In my ADN program we cover nursing management. Just dropped some more money on yet another nursing managemnt textbook!

Well, these are all good points to consider. The plan as it is right now is to take the pre-req courses that are required for all of the programs that I'm considering - A&P, micro, nutrition, etc... These will take about 2 semesters, so I'm going to apply to all the programs I'm interested in, an basically make my decision then.

HA! Maybe I should just work for the fire department and be done with it!

Specializes in LTC, MDS Cordnator, Mental Health.
i would like to add that the actual adn program, the associates degree, is not flexible, and they recommend that you do not work.

they will give you a few classes and times you may take them, you do not get to pick your schedule. unless you go for a specific night and weekend class, pretty much every nursing program is full time, days, plus clinicals.

i worked full time through out my lpn and the rn program. the first 2 years it was strictly nights. the last year it was days, as i was taking some of the classes online....

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