2nd Degree BSN / career changer


Hi all,

I am currently a high school mathematics teacher. I've taught for 8 years as of next week. I'm currently living in Las Vegas, NV where the public school system is ranked last and it's awful teaching here. Before this I was in the Houston, TX area and had a much better experience.

Either way, I'm considering a career change to nursing. I'm 37 y/o old male.

Will age be a factor? Also this is a career area dominated by women, will that matter either way?

I've looked online of course about the coursework and it looks like it's not even worth my time unless I go for the BSN. I have a master's in educational leadership already, so I was also looking at the MSN. It looks like it may be a better idea to go for the BSN first and then check into my options for the MSN later.

Biggest question is how does one manage to balance returning to school and making a living? I have plenty of bills but want complete my education ASAP. Best situation I can come up with is to find another teaching job and go to school nights and weekends.

I'd probably go back to Texas to teach full again, while attending school. (Specifically I was looking at the nights and weekend program at Texas Women's University, in Dallas)

While I have BS in Mathematics and a M. Ed in Instructional Leadership, I see some pre-req's that I may still have to take. How realistic is it to complete this program in a year? I haven't attended college since 2009, but I am a teacher. I'm good at science, when it comes to physics, but I don't remember liking Biology class.

Ideas? Comments? Suggestions?

Future plans would probably involve moving back to Las Vegas to work as a nurse, I love it here, but teaching public school is horrible.

How is the pay for new BSNs? I'm at $47,500 with full paid benefits as a teacher. Based on averages I've seen online it looks like I'll make slightly more at first. Maybe later with the MSN I can add to that.

Thanks for reading and all input.

Specializes in ICU.

I would look and see what the hospitals are hiring in your area. What is your GPA from your previous degree? Nursing school is extremely competitive to get in to. You can look at ABSN programs but you will have to complete your prereqs first. Things like A&P I and II, microbiology, and some psych classes if you don't already have any. I'm sure with your degree you have taken a basic psych class. We have to do 2 of them at my school. You want to find an accredited program.

I am going for my ADN first. In my area, they hire ADNs. It's a 2 year program just like the BSN program. I think most ABSN programs are around 16 mos. in length. The difficult part for you will be trying to find a night program. When clinicals come up they can be at any time. I have heard of programs that are night with clinicals on the weekends. Just understand that it will be difficult to work full time as a teacher and go to nursing school. I have several friends that are teachers and they put a ton of work in outside the classroom. So it will be difficult to maintain all of that. I don't know if you have a family but they will take a backseat for a while and I would let them know that upfront as not to cause any problems down the road.

Just make sure this is what you want. I see lots of people who come in here who don't like their current jobs and think oh, I will be a nurse and it will fix everything in my life. I will be helping people and my life will be complete. Without having an actual picture of what the job entails and how difficult the journey will be. I am a 38 year old single mom. I went through a divorce in the past year and decided to go back to school. It was extremely difficult and demanding. I felt like giving up at times and thought to myself what have I done. Fast forward almost a year later and I maintained almost all A's, one B in micro. I should be getting an acceptance letter soon and I have finally gotten into a rhythm with my son. It's just difficult work, and I want you to be prepared for it.


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

I second what Heathermaizey said.

It's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to find a program that will work around your work schedule. Simple as that. Programs are very intense, and I HAVE heard of ONE program somewhere on here that did nights and weekends, but this is EXTREMELY rare, and you're going to have to do a lot of research to find one. Your GPA MUST be very high to get into a program. Nursing programs are VERY impacted everywhere, so most people must apply to several (unless you have a 4.0 GPA and score 100% on the TEAS). Research accelerated BSN programs. Is there a particular reason you want your MSN? What do you think the advantage would be? Many hospitals are no longer paying a differential for nurses based on their education (ADN/BSN/MSN), and even the differentials they DO pay can be as little as $0.25-0.50 per hour. It's usually not a huge difference, so it's really about your goal, the job market (I believe hospitals in LV prefer BSN, but check with HR depts), and what kind of program accepts you.

Your age and gender really aren't factors, as far as nursing goes. We're seeing higher and higher numbers of men in programs (which is awesome!). You'd be about in the middle of my class, maybe older 1/3 or so. We had at least a couple of 50+ students out of 23 people.

There are threads all over this site with people posting salaries (play with a few key words and see what comes up). If you DO decide to do this, consider downsizing as many expenses as humanly possible, basically live as a broke college student- rent a room, either pay off your car and get something cheaper, pay off your credit cards and whatever other debts you have, and pinch your pennies. It's really a matter of how committed you are to this and how much you REALLY want it. AND whether or not it's truly feasible for you.

FWIW, I'm 34 and just graduated with my BSN (my first degree). We have been living on my in-laws' property, pinching pennies beyond belief. I'm very much looking forward to having a savings account again and contributing to my retirement again!

umbdude, MSN, APRN

1,223 Posts

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 6 years experience.

hi OP-

Take your time thinking and researching about nursing before you make a move. It sounds like you still enjoy teaching, but the environment is horrible; in that case, changing your environment is much more sensible than switching fields completely. Also explore all other career options. It took me 2-3 years of thinking before I made the move.

I'm around your age (male), worked 14 years in finance with BS and MS in finance, and now I'm a nursing student. I started cutting my spending and started saving and saved for a couple years (I had a well-paying job which helped) before quitting. Still, there's no way I would go to a private BSN program. I just finished my first nursing semester at an ADN program, but now I'm switching to a public university for a BSN. That BSN program is actually cheaper per credit than the ADN and hospitals in my area don't hire ADN new grads.

37 is still young in nursing. Compared to other fields, nursing is fairly tolerant of older career changers. There are plenty of older students in my ADN cohort. Just keep in mind that when you go into clinical or work, you'll be learning from younger professionals. Being a guy isn't a problem. If anything, I think it's a slight advantage. I've worked with plenty of women before, it's no different.

If finances is a major concern, consider getting an ADN first, or go to a public university so you can pay in-state tuition, and definitely take all pre-reqs at a community college. Get financial aid and find ways to cut spending. As for work, it will be hard to work full time. Also, I highly recommend that you get some work experience as a Nurse Aide. You need every advantage possible as a career changer, and having health care exposure is very important. Maybe you can give private math tutoring on the side for added income. I could never understand why people go for direct-entry MSN without having ANY health care experience. It's a huge financial risk spending over $100k + lost income going into something you've never done before.

The length of time to complete pre-req depends on what you need to take and your ability. I took pre-reqs over 2 years, which is typical. It will take you at least 2 semesters I think. Nursing salary varies based on location...a google search should give you a rough idea.

hope this helps. Good luck!

Specializes in Prior military RN/current ICU RN.. Has 16 years experience.

I did ABSN in 2006 when I was 31. You will be fine on the age thing. What I would say is first off decide your goals. I think getting the BSN is the way to go, but that is me. Move somewhere with low cost of living for school. I went to school in Northern VA near DC and I was paying almost as much for living as I was school. So look at the big picture cost wise. Go hardcore spartan and just study and survive. For me living totally spartan made me hungrier to graduate and to succeed. These are just my observations from my situation. I am male also. No one cares if you are male. All that matters is 1. Active nursing license. 2 Will you work nights and weekends? 3. Are you reliable and hard worker. Be ready to work nights and they are brutal. Best of luck!

iPink, BSN, RN

1,414 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Postpartum. Has 10 years experience.

Nursing is my second career. Before I dove completely into pursing this profession, I did my research. I was contemplating LPN, ADN, and even Dental Hygienist. I assumed I would have to start all over again if I wanted to pursue a BSN.

I received advice from nurses I personally knew who could give it to me straight. I remember going in to do a physical and telling my doctor I was thinking about becoming a Dental Hygienist. He boldly told me NO, become a nurse because you'll have more opportunities! The LPNs and RNs there also encouraged me to pursue nursing and one LPN (who also had a degree in something else) introduced to to ABSN programs. I can't stress the importance of researching costs of school, time to complete your degree, and how much you would need to survive once school begins and you chose to either not work or go down to part-time.

I graduated from a 15-month ABSN program, so I can give you advice there. Many of them require your previous degree GPA to be at least 3.0. I chose that path because I wanted to get a job sooner than later. I could have taken the ADN route then bridge to a BSN later, but I wasn't interested in more schooling. Besides, in my area, many of the hospitals were either Magnet or going Magnet which meant they were only hiring BSNs. I decided on my ABSN program because it was the cheapest and required the least amount of prerequisites. It was the only program I applied to and got in. I didn't have a 4.0 prerequisite GPA either. I wouldn't advise you to put your eggs in one basket because you never know and want to maximize your chances of getting into a program, so apply everywhere.

Accelerated is exactly that, it was rough. I would never go through that again and glad I made it out alive. They encourage students not to work, but there were a few students in my program who was able to hold down a parttime job. I didn't work but I was able to still pay rent and my other bills because I had savings and was able to still collect unemployment while still in school. The only loans I took out was for tuition. I bought used books from students and saved a lot. I also spoke to the previous semester students who would tell us which classes didn't even need a textbook to pass.

As far as the men in my program. There were many. Nursing has changed and more men are entering the field. I now work in women's health and miss working with the guys from my previous unit. I would encourage you to check out the "Men in Nursing" forum on here to get their perspective. As far as age, I became a nurse in my 30's and plan to put in 20+ years in this field. More career changers are getting into nursing, and with this field, as long as you are strong mind and body age isn't a factor.

I was also licensed in Texas. I remember getting calls for interviews and I wasn't even located there. Friends from my program actually moved there and easily got jobs. This was in 2012, so I don't know the market now but find out.

Good luck on your decision. I don't regret my decision at all, I only wished I had pursued nursing the first time around.

Specializes in Per Diem - SNF/LTAC. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks for the responses so far! I've been reading a lot online about different people's experiences and how they did it and their situations. I will have to work full time while I do this due to my expenses. I know it will be hell while I try to go to school and work full time. I've been looking at the local community college in Dallas, and they seem to offer the pre-reqs I need.

TWU offers the program that seems to fit my needs, I would of course want to talk to them before I apply. With summers off as a teacher, I could really hit it hard in the summer...however I don't want to burn out either. :)

Either way I'm excited to keep pursuing this. Looking online also makes Texas look like one of the best places to get started.


39 Posts

I'm in Texas, you should take a look at the TTUHSC 12 month online program... it's 12 months and distance. You need a CNA certification and a few unique pre-reqs (pathophysiology to be specific)... but that might be your best option. Additionally, you could probably work as a CNA here and there once you get the cert., while you are in school!

Specializes in Per Diem - SNF/LTAC. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks for the info... I looked at the pre-reqs and they are nearly the exact same as TWU.

Since I need to work full time, I'll probably have to go with TWU program. The TT program looks to be full time school.

Wish I could find a way to go to school full time and afford to support myself. :( The TT program looks to be a lot cheaper too.