I'm sick of living from paycheck to paycheck and want the financial and job security that comes with being a nurse.
This is the wrong reason to become a nurse. I can show you many VERY unhappy coworkers making quite a bit of money to attest to this.
More importantly, I want a career where I can make a real difference in people's lives.
OK. A couple things to think about: How do you think this career will make a "real difference," and what do you think you will be doing to make that difference? Making a difference is a noble goal, but many new nurses say, "Well, THIS is NOT how I thought I would be making a difference."
I think I chose English because I was 17 when I went to college, loved reading, and a few professors told me I was talented. An impractical decision that regret. I'm an adult now and ready to kick things into gear.
OK. Big change, but that's all right. I made a similar major change from engineering. The thing is, to get real satisfaction out of nursing, you might have to enjoy it like you enjoy reading.
I've signed up to take my pre-reqs at a community college, and while I get that in order, my next step is go shadow a nurse. I know that nursing is very challenging and vastly different than anything I've ever done, and I want to make sure I'm making the right decision.
Shadowing a nurse is not a bad idea, but it won't give you much of an idea to tell if you have made the right decision. Before you even take your prereqs, you should get a Nurse Assistant's certificate and work right along nurses as an NA. You should do this ASAP and you can do it while working in your current career. That will definitely inform your decision.
Not sure if it's better to get an AA, then work in the field before going back to get a BSN, or if I should go straight for the BSN, OR if should just go for the AA.
Depends on your area. I got my associates and my employer is paying for me to get my BSN. However, they have changed their policy on hiring RNs with associates degrees to hiring BSNs. (However, they will certainly reverse this decision when they need bodies.)
2) I've read a few posts on here that say that nursing is now an over-saturated market and that getting into nursing school AND finding a job afterwards is extremely competitive. Is this true?
In the USA, the availability of good jobs continues to shrink. You should think of EVERY desirable job as extremely competitive. The job market for career changers with a new degree and ZERO experience in their field of any kind is certainly saturated.
Should this discourage me from pursuing a career as an RN? (I live in Los Angeles, btw, in case any of you a familiar with this job market.) '
If competition discourages you, you should stick to editing.