Going back to school at 30 to become a RN -- need advice!

  1. Hi there!

    I am considering going back to school to become an RN. I already have a B.A in English Literature and have worked as a community journalist and as a subtitle editor-- interesting but low-paying jobs that offer almost no job security. I'm sick of living from paycheck to paycheck and want the financial and job security that comes with being a nurse. More importantly, I want a career where I can make a real difference in people's lives. 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.

    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.

    I have a few questions that I would really appreciate your help with.

    1.) The average starting salary for ASNs and BSNs appears to be about the same. What is the real difference between these degrees? Is it easier to get a job with a BSN? I am taking out loans to pay for my schooling (I don't want to work while I'm school -- I want to focus on maintaining a high GPA and completing school as soon as possible) and I'm trying to plan out my finances over the next few years. 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.

    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? 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.)

    Thank you in advance for everyone's help.

    - Jaime
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    About Jaimer1

    Joined: Dec '15; Posts: 1

    14 Comments

  3. by   Pangea Reunited
    In LA, you should probably get a BSN or be prepared to move for a few years to gain experience. In fact, you should be prepared to move, regardless. It's a tough market. I was able to find work with an ASN and 2.5 years of experience in another state, but I don't have the same options in this market that I would have in others.
    You should also be aware that pay and cost of living are lower in other markets. Having school loans from Texas and making Southern California wages is great, but it would be horrible if it were the other way around. When I worked in Texas, I worked with many nurses from CA who had to move to actually find jobs. Proceed with caution ...especially if you're financing your education with loans.
  4. by   mago8388
    Go for the BSN, most hospitals lately want BSN nurses or they have to get it withing a couple years to keep their jobs. Better to just get it done. The pay is the same. However if you don't have a BSN you can't further up your education later on. Salaries for RNs are based on years of experience, area of practice, and certifications
  5. by   mmc51264
    if you already have a bachelors, can't you do an ABSN?
  6. by   bigbearnurse
    Before launching into nursing school, I would go work as a CNA (some hospitals call them PCAs or nursing aides) in a hospital. That will teach you more of what nursing is like in a hospital setting; you'll see if the profession is for you; you may even get connections for your first job. You will also have an easier time in school - most of the CNA-experienced students in my class did.

    Do NOT waste your time with an ASN. It's career suicide and would set you back 5 years. No one would even look at your application, especially in California, where EVERYONE wants to get a job. Consider an accelerated Bachelor's program in nursing (ABSN), but be prepared for a highly selective application process! Or just a regular BSN program - it would take a little longer but I've found students from BSN programs are more clinically prepared than those from an accelerated program - makes sense! Good Luck!
  7. by   RNperdiem
    The ADN versus BSN depends somewhat on where you live. In many places the BSN is becoming standard-from what I hear here, California is at the top of the list.
    Do some looking around at other options if nursing is not what you want. Xray techs, EEG techs, respiratory therapists, etc are stable, decent paying jobs that can be done at the community college level.
  8. by   Artsy_RN
    I switched careers from Graphic Design to Nursing at 30 and it took about 5 years to complete a BSN program all while working full-time. I first became an EMT and volunteered on a first aid squad (to see if the medical profession is for me), then took all the prerequisites at a community college like you are planning, and then applied to a part-time BSN program specifically designed for second degree nursing students. Only applicants with a prior bachelors degree were allowed to apply for some reason.

    I would definitely recommend shadowing a nurse for a few shifts to see if nursing is for you. As an EMT, I was exposed to the ER routinely and decided that I wanted to be an ER nurse. I have heard that some people become nurses and hate it once the reality sets in... Nursing school and clinicals only expose you to the surface of what it's like to be a nurse.

    I would definitely try to go BSN. And as far as finding employment after you finish school, you have to market yourself to a prospective employer. I had 6 years EMT experience and also did ACLS right after nursing school, two main reasons why I landed in ED as a new grad.
  9. by   dannibeeRN
    I say take the route that fits into your personal financial plan. Take the ADN route if you are trying to keep your education costs low and stay out of debt. I would, however, suggest you secure a job within a hospital system (CNA would probably be best) sometime before you start the program as that will help your chances of getting hired after you graduate. You will most likely have to return to school (online programs can take as little as 9 months) to get your BSN but at least you will already have a job to pay for it. Most employers want nurses to have their BSN nowadays, especially here in California. The hospital I work for is Magnet status and they will hire ADNs with but you have to sign an agreement to get your BSN by your 4 year work anniversary. Good luck to you!
  10. by   loriangel14
    Be aware that jobs are generally tough to find and job security is questionable
  11. by   ArtClassRN
    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.
  12. by   joanna73
    Many prospective students are lured by the "nursing shortage". Do not believe the ads. The last time we had a nursing shortage was 2006. Since then, facilities across the US and Canada have been laying off nurses and not replacing nurses when they retire. Jobs are scarce in most cities relative to the large applicant pool.

    Also if you live in California, a BSN is a necessity to be able to compete.
  13. by   Emergent
    OMG, you're 30? I'm sorry ancient one, you are far to old for nursing school...
  14. by   rogersim
    I'm taking prerequisites right now. Everyone is between the ages 22-40. I met a lady who is 40 taking her prereqs to become a nurse. So don't feel like ur too old! Go for what you believe in and that will make you happy.

    Don't pay attention to people telling you that you are too old or telling you that you are going to nursing school for the wrong reasons.

    Do what makes you happy or think will make you happy.

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