What Is The Deal With All The Highly Educated & Professionals Becoming RNs?

  1. So I pretty much always have nursing students with me. I have senior BSN students who are doing a critical care class (six 12 hours shifts), ADN students from 2 different programs doing their preceptorships (eight 12 hour shifts), ABSN students doing clinical (six 12 hour shifts), and direct entry MSN students who shadow me for a shift. In addition I come into contact with a variety of other students who are being taught by my RN co-workers. My hospital also has a "student nurse technician" program where they hire nursing students to do CNA type work. So I regularly talk to 5-10 nursing students a week and nearly always have a student with me each shift.

    What I am so shocked about is the level of education of these students who are in nursing school. I can't even remember the last time I had a ADN student who didn't already have a bachelors degree with me. Of course the MSN and ABSN students already have bachelors degrees, but what is surprising to me is that so many are already professionals in others areas. I had a student who already has a bachelors and masters in architecture and worked for a well known local firm, I have had lawyers, police officers, scads of teachers, and a few engineers among others. Even a guy who is an MD in Russia.

    Why do all of these people want to be nurses? Have any of you experienced this?

    Back when I was in nursing school there were plenty of 2nd career types in my class but they tended to be factory workers, truck drivers, farmers, military vets who were moving up to become RNs. A few had bachelors degrees but not like now.

    I actually find it frightening and a little sad. Frightening cause I suspect this is a symptom of a very bad economy and terrible job market. Sad cause I know so many of the will struggle to find work after making huge sacrifices to get through nursing school.

    Some of them are SHOCKED when I tell them it's a tough job market out there for RNs and they will have to work hard and keep on their toes to find any job. Some simply refuse to believe me (nearly all the direct entry MSN students, ironic since they will struggle in our local market more than the others). Others already have this figured out and are already bitter about it.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 19, '13 : Reason: spacing
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  3. by   mclennan
    I think it's a combination of a lot of things, primarily two: 1) people of my generation were promised this 70s/80s dream where all we had to do was get a liberal arts degree, and settle into a cubicle and all would be well. For many of us, that dream turned out to be BS. Most corporate jobs are meaningless, soul-crushing and void of potential. Then you have a bunch of us hitting 40 (or nearabouts) during a recession. Lots of divorces, layoffs, underwater mortgages.....& it's a perfect storm of career changers.

    And 2) nursing, because of the ACTUAL shortage in the early 90s, has been VERY effectively marketed by schools as a "recession proof, high paying, secure" career choice. This has hatched a lot of myth about what this industry is really like, and worst of all, created a glut of new grads who can't find work (because baby boomers won't let go and retire). 2nd career seekers, likely with a layoff or other disaster behind them, are seeking something secure and meaningful, and bought into the marketing - hook, line and sinker.

    I have a BA in Insert Useless Liberal Arts Dreck Here, and ended up working as an IT help desk jerk for 7 years until I decided I needed to do something ACTUALLY more helpful than telling people to turn off their caps lock. Lucky for me I graduated pre-recession with my BSN and dodged much of the desperation I see here from ADNs, new grads and 2nd career seekers.
  4. by   calivianya
    You nailed it with the bad economy and tight job market comment. The media has been hyping up this imaginary nursing shortage, so highly paid professionals who lose their jobs and can't find anything else think that at least they'd get a job as an RN and it would let them put food on the table. It's pretty sad.
  5. by   Rose_Queen
    I'm with the other two posters. The economy is causing lots of layoffs or difficulty finding jobs (have you read about the difficulty for fresh grads from law school in finding jobs?) and the media portraying the recession-proof jobs in nursing (that don't really exist) and the nursing shortage (which doesn't really exist except in certain areas).
  6. by   DoGoodThenGo
    While there are many reasons for second, third, fourth, etc... career persons moving into nursing the two main ones come down to this: true desire to enter the profession out of altruistic reasons, or simply they perceive nursing as stable employment often with good wages.

    Due to the tightening of academic standards for entry, retention and graduation from most nursing programs those with previous professional degrees often have a "leg up". That is they understand the hard work required and how "things work" both in school and after graduation. The boom in ABSN/second degree nursing programs has made this career switch easier for many than in the past.

    As for the Russian MD there are lots of physicians from foreign nations who became nurses in the USA. The medical profession does not make it at all easy for such doctors to practice here in the States, and rather than go back to medical school (which pretty much often is what must happen) it is easier to do an ADN or BSN program, then start working as a RN.
  7. by   dishes
    The problem is the economy and timing, nursing schools have increased their enrollments over the past ten years, in anticipation of a huge nursing shortage that was based on studies done in the 1990's and early 2000's. The studies showed a huge number of nurses hoped to retire at age 55 instead of 65. The researchers and the nurses who participated in the studies, did not take into account a world wide economic downturn and the loss of their retirement savings. This means the large number who were expected to retire early are not going to. My guess is that the anticipated shortage is off by about 10 years. Unfortunately the current nursing students are caught in bad timing. They would be better off working a non-nursing job, saving their money and going to nursing school in the year 2020, so that they can graduate when the real shortage begins.
  8. by   ThePrincessBride
    Oh man, I have a lot to say about this topic.

    I met a guy in his late thirties who was an engineer, but then got laid off. He had 50k in student loans from his engineering degree. When he couldn't find a job as an engineer, he decided to go back to school for nursing (why, I have no idea) and told me that he will be 90k in debt when it is all said and done. Talk about cringe worthy. I feel that 90k is way too much for a BSN. Heck, the CRNA program near me is only 50k or so for the whole program and CRNAs have more job security and WAY higher starting salaries. And to make matters worse, he didn't even want to be a RN, but was in it for the "job security."

    The thing that concerns me most is when I hear single mothers/parents going into the profession. It is one thing for someone like me, a young 21 year old without any children, house, car payments or debt, to take a risk and go into nursing, but for someone with mouths to feed...it is not worth the risk, or at least not now. And sadly, ageism is still rampant.
  9. by   DoGoodThenGo
    "Nursing is a great career because you can put it down and pick it up again as needed", or "nursing is a great career choice because there will always be a need for nurses", And so forth....

    Nursing has always been seen as a great career choice for those either in need of "quick employment", and or a stable career after being laid-off or otherwise unemployed. Yes, this historically this went for single mothers and or those with mouths to feed. After all it *only* takes about three years to get an ADN degree then you too can join the exciting field of nursing.
  10. by   mmc51264
    I am one of those older, second (well, third) career people. I got a bachelors in Biology years ago in hopes of going to vet school.. I was not motivated enough or mature enough. I kept working in the horse business until I had children and then I had an opportunity to go to school to get a teaching degree (the equivalent of an ABSN) which included a masters. I became a teacher because I liked to teach; I had taught horseback riding lessons for 20 years. Then the bottom fell out of education and I had educated myself out of a job. Next, following my mother's advice from 10 years ago, I went back to school to be a nurse. I did not do it because I thought it would be easy, it turned out to be the hardest thing that I have ever done. I had worked for a large animal vet and a lot of the processes and medications, some procedures, are very similar to human medicine. I LOVE nursing. I know I could have done this years ago, but I don't think I was ready. Yes, I had more education and was older than some of my instructors, but I was still new at this.
    Not all second career, older, educated nursing student think of this as a last resort, it is just time for us. Fortunately for me, I found a job in a hospital that values diversity and my age was not a detriment.
    There are success stories out there.
  11. by   Esme12
    The tale of the nursing shortage. That the yellow brick road to financial freedom is being a nurse. Thousands of dollars of debt when they graduated and couldn't find a job. Layoffs, downsizing, unemployment paying for retraining/education...hundresds of new programs developed over night, churning out new grads every six months, to cash in on the "nursing shortage"....quantity not quality sometimes.

    Direct entry programs for MSN promising 6 $$ figure jobs in independent practice as NP's is going to lead to the next financial crisis...unpaid student debt. In a tight market. There are some areas of the country that have as high as 47% unemployment of new nursing grads.

    The job market stinks...the economy stinks...it all stinks right now.
  12. by   BostonFNP
    Interesting to hear all the comments about DE MSN students/grads!

    I do some lecturing for a mix of DE and traditional
    MSN students at my alma mater. The data from the DE students who graduated last year was 97% employment at 9-months out from graduation with a median salary of just about 90k. The data at graduation for the 2013 class was 34% having accepted offers at time of graduation (no data on salary for them).
  13. by   priorities2
    I'm only 20, but I did switch majors into nursing from psychology. I could have graduated 2 years early but will instead be graduating right on time with a BSN. My reasoning:

    -- PMHNP job choices are more up my alley than clinical psych or school psych, which is what I was planning on previously. I like that PMHNPs can treat the whole age range, can move fairly easily into program development or teaching with just a master's degree, can work part-time and still make a good salary, make a good salary overall, etc. Also, years of schooling are shaved off.
    -- I like the idea of being able to prescribe. I've had some experience volunteering in a mental health clinic and I think that psychotherapy, while incredibly fascinating and important and exactly what I want to do, could lead to burnout, so I think it makes sense to have medication management, care planning, intake and assessment as options if I want to take a break from primarily doing therapy.
    -- In the long run, regardless of the current nursing economy, I think it makes sense to have the two skills -- psychotherapy and prescribing -- rather than just psychotherapy. This is for two reasons: 1. I believe that children and adolescents are insanely overprescribed, and I want to be the person who parents come to for prescriptions who can explain the importance of other types of care in addition or before resorting to a prescription, and 2. having two skills is better than one, marketability-wise. I also really dislike the fact that general practitioners are so quick to prescribe psych drugs, and psych NPs can help prevent that from occurring so often.
    -- Not to toot my own horn.. but I did find the psych major at my school very easy. I'm less good at hard science and want to be challenged! Also, I'm sick of the liberal arts and ready to learn hands-on skills. In that respect, nursing can provide me what I'm looking for at this point in my life.

    I guess I'm posting this just to show that not all career-changers or people who change their minds to go for nursing are doing it just because it's a stable career. However, if a single parent (e.g.) needs to provide for their family and has few other options, I wouldn't judge them for going this route.
  14. by   brandy1017
    I think the professionals will really be in for a shock once they get a nursing job and experience the typical nursing conditions of short staffing, stress and inability to even take a break in most places. I don't think many will stay with nursing once the reality sets in!