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Nursing or counseling degree?

Nurses   (13,805 Views 13 Comments)
by deb2mirabelle deb2mirabelle (New Member) New Member

1,091 Profile Views; 11 Posts

Hi all--

I'm a mid-life career changer, and really want to work providing valuable service to people and make adifference in folks' day to day experiences. I've been seriously considering both a masters in counseling, or a direct entry nursing program (I have a bachelor's degree).

Counseling appeals to me as being less of a jump from my first degree, but I wonder if it's really difficult to find work. On the other hand, nursing is very appealing but I worry about the physical demands as I grow older (already mid-forties--will be in my fifties by the time I finish pre-reqs, school, etc.)

Any input from those of you who have worked in both fields?

Thanks so much for taking the time to consider this!

Deborah

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krazykev specializes in Neurosciences.

145 Posts; 4,802 Profile Views

Prior to entering into nursing school I was going to get my Masters in Social Work and then begin working as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. But, from what I seen the jobs are not there right now in the counseling field. Plus, as a nurse I am still working a counselor. Not, to mention that I can work anytime I want and anywhere.

Finally, it was a very difficult decision to make, but I do not regret it at all.

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2,801 Posts; 13,318 Profile Views

krazykev - did you say you are working as a counselor? Do you mean that in the course of your nursing work, you have the opportunity to act as a counselor of sorts or do you have a job as a counselor? If so, could you give more details and your background?

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11 Posts; 1,091 Profile Views

Thanks, KK, that has been my impression as well---I'm glad to hear you'rehapyy with your nursing career!

Deborah

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drmorton2b specializes in Sub-Acute/Psychiatric/Detox.

253 Posts; 6,864 Profile Views

Some of the nurses in their 50s at the Psych Hospital I work at, "retired" from staff nursing and are either case managers and or Insurance Company Utilization Review Coordinators (they are the liason between the insurance companies and the hospitals). It should be noted however, they worked at this particular hospital forever.

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oneLoneNurse specializes in Psych, Informatics, Biostatistics.

613 Posts; 6,487 Profile Views

Hi all--

I'm a mid-life career changer, and really want to work providing valuable service to people and make adifference in folks' day to day experiences. I've been seriously considering both a masters in counseling, or a direct entry nursing program (I have a bachelor's degree).

Counseling appeals to me as being less of a jump from my first degree, but I wonder if it's really difficult to find work. On the other hand, nursing is very appealing but I worry about the physical demands as I grow older (already mid-forties--will be in my fifties by the time I finish pre-reqs, school, etc.)

Any input from those of you who have worked in both fields?

Thanks so much for taking the time to consider this!

Deborah

Nursing, hands down. I don't think counseling pays well since there is no union.

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4,700 Posts; 38,043 Profile Views

been there done that

I decided nursing was a better fit....

Check out an accelerated program. If you already have a degree it will probably be a matter of picking up A&P, Chem, and Micro for the prereq's.

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krazykev specializes in Neurosciences.

145 Posts; 4,802 Profile Views

To begin with, I apologize for not being clearer in the first place.

Now what I meant is that as a nursing student I have observed that having excellent communication techniques is the most important skill that I can have. It allows me, more often than not; the ability to observe what is really going on with a patient. Plus, there have times that just taking the time to talk the patient has made a difference in the way they feel. So, in this sense, I see myself acting as a therapist. Which is what a good therapist will do is allow people the freedom to share how the feel without judging them for the way that they feel.

Plus, with my mental health background that includes Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counseling, it does allow me insight in that particular area of patient care. And most of the other professionals that I meet in the health care field are clueless about addiction/alcoholism or its treatment. Including the doctors. Most often it seems that they are only interested in covering their own butts when it comes to this area.

I hope this clarifies what I wanted to say better.

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15 Posts; 1,026 Profile Views

Deborah,

I am licensed clinical social worker and a BSN student. I too wrestled with counseling v. nursing for years and I previously choose counseling via an MSW degree. In comparing counseling v. nursing, I believe nursing is a much better career field. The job market for counselors is not that great b/c it's very saturated. You have MSWs, M.EDs in counseling psych, Psych-Ds and PHD's all competing for the same limited counseling/psychotherapy positions. If you're not bilingual in English and Spanish than you will have a hard time even finding a job if you live in an area with a sizable Hispanic population (such as New York City). The pay is poor given the amount of education and training you need to acquire - in NYC mid 30s to 40s to start (many new clinicians believe that they will form a lucrative private practice as soon as they get their license but most learn the hard way that it takes YEARS of employment experience at a mental health clinic before you're really even qualified to open your own practice). Furthermore, with increasing managed care restricitions, you job is even more challenging in that you're really under pressure to document clinical gains in a very short time frame. In my opinion, nursing is a far better career field. The job market is excellent (high demand), the pay is decent (a new RN in NYC earns at least $60,000), nursing is flexible (RN licensure is very similiar from state to state unlike counseling fields). Lastly, RN's are legally able to provide psychotherapy and supportive counseling (I know this is true for New York State; I'm not sure about other states). I hope this information is helpful. Good luck in your decision.

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38 Posts; 1,384 Profile Views

If you get a nursing degree and work in a psych unit as an RN, you are also doing counseling. I have a first degree (associates) in Human Services which I loved. I found that I could not leave my job at the time and make an equivalant salary with anything less than a Masters.

I went back for an associates in Nursing, got my RN and presently work in a child crisis intervention unit. Most of my time is spend communicating with the children. The only things I do as a nurse is dispense medications, do admissions and discharges, assess medical problems and do vitals. The rest of my time is talking and counseling children and adolescents.

The way I see it, I am a counselor with a nurses salary--at least 30-50% higher than counselors. I love it.

Good luck in whatever you choose. My daughter in law has an MSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and had a difficult time finding a job as well as making quite a bit less than I do with less education.

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11 Posts; 1,091 Profile Views

Thanks to everyone for all the info and opinions! (especially NYC guy---I appreciate your prespective, having done both.) I really don't want to have another (expensive) degree that isn't very employable--I already have one :o)

What about the physical demands--are you all hanging in there in your fifties??

Thanks a lot--

Deborah

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2,801 Posts; 13,318 Profile Views

presently work in a child crisis intervention unit. Most of my time is spend communicating with the children. The only things I do as a nurse is dispense medications, do admissions and discharges, assess medical problems and do vitals. The rest of my time is talking and counseling children and adolescents.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this type of position hard to come by for the typical RN? Do you think your previous experience helped in getting in this job?

One thing to consider about the job opportunities and pay for RNs is whether or not you want to work as an RN. I have a RN/BSN and find that I'm not truly interested in the majority of RN jobs and that for the choice non-bedside care job that I'd need substantial relevant experience. I can't stand the average RN job in a hospital where one is juggling several patients (and their meds, transfers, families, etc) and everything needs to have been done an hour ago. I'd take a pay cut to be able to do the same thing in a less harried environment, but those types of environments are few and far between. I currently have a job with a company that deals in health information and have been looking into research-related positions. So while there is demand and pay in nursing work in general, it's still no guarantee for the individual, especially if they're particular about the type of work they want to do within the field. This thought may not be of concern to the OP, just throwing it out there.

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