Nursing Question in General

Nurses General Nursing


Hello. I have been thinking of going back to school for my RN. I've been searching the internet for info. on nursing in general and came across this forum. I thought this would be one of the best places to ask some questions, since most to all here are already RN's.

I'm currently a paramedic and work in the Fire Department. While I enjoy my job, I have always thought about returning to college to become a RN. I have done the research and know what classes I need, where I would be able to go to school, ect. But, I would like to know some information that really isn't offered in the college brouchures. If anyone can help me out and answer any of my questions, I would really appreciate it.

What is the average starting pay for a RN? I realize this could be a large varience, but I'm just asking for a general ball park figure.

Do most hospitals offer varied schedules? Such as work 3 - 12hr. shifts and then off for 4 days, 5 - 8hr days, ect.

Do most hospitals offer health insurance and other benefits? What hours are usually considered full-time to get these benefits?

What was the approximate cost of schooling for you? I'm looking at going to a Community College offering completion of the RN program with an AAS degree. I can figure the basic cost of tuition, but I know a lot of programs have other fees. I'm interested in finding out the total cost including tuition, books, uniforms, ect.

How hard was it finding a job once you completed the program and received your RN?

I guess that's enough questions for now. LOL! I probably could go on forever! I guess I'm a little nervous about the transition of careers. I'm married and have a 4yr. old, so this decision would affect the whole family. I just trying to obtain as much info. as possible before I make a definate decision. I would most likely have to quit my job in the Fire Department to complete the RN program. With the schedule I currently work, it would be next to impossible to continue working at my current job and attend college. Thanks again for any info. you can give me.



6,011 Posts


Wow, you don't ask a lot!

Where you live will influence the starting salary.

12 hour shifts are becoming the norm. It's usually up to the manager to do the scheduling, so you'd have to request what you want.

32-40 hours a week is full time--generally.

Bennies usually, but not limited to would be Health insurance (all or part paid for by the job).

A chance to buy life insurance.

A pension package, often matched by the plan...not always though.

Daycare sites sometimes, discounts in the cafeteria and uniform shop. Pre-tax savings accounts.

Do you have any college credits?

An associate --ballpark is 60-65 hours X $whatever an hour costs at the school.

A BSN is twice that. Books and fees not included.

Yes it is easy right now to find a job. No you won't always like it.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

I imagine you have not received any answers yet because they would VARY WILDLY!!!! There is a lot I do not know about you in order to help but here I will take a stab to stimulate some thought. Please bear with me as this is a long post, but I hope it has some valuable insight for you. Why not do these things:

*Check the local community college or university to see what the cost of obtaining an RN degree would be? Most schools can itemize fairly well the costs! Consider: you will pay for books, tuition, lab fees, , possibly a physical exam and immunizations required for entry, uniforms and supplies for clinical practicum, e.g. a stethoscope and lab practicum "kits" required by some schools of nursing.

*You also must consider any courses outside the nursing core classes you would need to take....that can add up, too! (e.g. anatomy/physiology, chem, basic ed requirements, and so on). I have no clue where you are w/your educational prerequisites; that is something you need evaluated by the nursing dept. of the school you are considering.

Also, they will tell you what the graduation cap/gown and school nursing pin costs are so you can anticipate those expenses. Personally, I borrowed a cap and gown for my graduation. Also: Remember, too, you have to pay to take the NCLEX exam in the end. The school (probably) will be able to estimate the cost for you at some point. And the licensing fee for your state/province should be either part of what you pay when you take the NCLEX, or they will be able to tell you what that will cost, also.

*Then: look at what TYPE of nursing you want to do...Hospital? Hospice? Home health? School? Forensic? Private duty? Entepreneural? So many areas to choose from. It becomes obvious that what you choose may easily have an effect on the pay you can expect. You can work fulltime, part time, perdiem, or be a traveler. It is so variable! Often, substantial differentials are paid for "undesireable" shifts at certain institutions (e.g. night shift or weekend/holiday pay,; hey, this can pad your income nicely if you plan it right. )

Keep in mind, in some areas, the nursing shortage is so great in hospitals and other institutions, they will pay you a bonus to start.....but one caveat; they will want a certain time or other commitment out of you, so beware. READ THE FINE PRINT! Meantime, you will have to canvas some nurses or do some research in the area in which you are interested to see what type of pay a new graduating nurse can expect to start.

I don't imagine ANYONE here can accurately answer your questions w/o knowing WHERE YOU ARE, WHERE YOU WOULD STUDY, and WHERE YOU WOULD WORK! That would be sort of like taking a shot in the dark at an invisible target, sorry to say. Another suggestion is you can pick up a copy of last month's Nursing 2002 magazine; they had a pay survey in it and it may help you gain perspective on what to expect in your region; if you are in the USA.

Finally, it should NOT be too hard to find work as an RN just about anywhere. The trick is to be open to different possiblities and learn your possible "niche" as you go thru school. I personally was hired 2 months prior to graduation into Labor and Delivery nursing; which was lucky 5 years ago. The need is greater now than even then, so you should not have too much trouble finding WORK!

Good luck and I sincerely do hope you get what you are after!


657 Posts

this is a great time to go to school for nursing. you probably wont have to pay much for your education, if anything. you will however, have to sign up to work for a hospital that pays for your education.

my education cost approx 10,000, maybe less. but i paid for very little of it. the federal government picked up the tab in pell grants. at first, and for the prerequisites, they paid about half, but after i proved myself academically, the amounts increased. by my senior year the government paid for EVERYTHING, books, uniforms, supplies....i mean EVERYTHING. BUT ....i worked VERY hard to keep at least a B average, although you only had to maintain a "C".

there are so many programs these days to recruit nurses i cant imagine you having to pay much at all.

i graduated from my community college with an ADN. i am going to go back and get my BSN and the hospital i work for will pay for that if i sign up for a year...i am thinking about that.

i quit nursing for a while and needed a refresher course. i answered an ad in the paper and signed a contract to work for the hospital i am at now for one year. in return they paid for the course and gave me a stipend of 80 bucks a week while i was in school. it helped pay for busfare and other incidentals.

my year is up, boy did it go fast.

it was certainly worth it for me.

the average starting pay for hospital work in our area is 16-17 an hour for an associate or diploma. BSN's make 1 dollar more an hour. (no its not fair but could we skip the debate please?)

we have excellent benefits where i work. we have EVERYTHING.

as for flexibility...

we offer a weekend program to nurses with two years experience. nurses work 2-12 hour shifts between fri and sunday

at a higher rate of pay. it works out to be about the same as working 40 hours. but there are no paid holidays and you only get 24 hours paid vacation. there are other differences as well but nothing major. as with anything there are drawbacks to this too.

since we run on 8 and 12 hour shifts there is very little need for anything less than that so at our facility at least i doubt they would be interested in someone who could only do 4 hrs and certainly no less than that. but who knows these days.

going back to cost....books are the biggest expense. i have paid as much as 200 for a textbook. and you need lots of books. sometimes you can get them used for much less.

uniforms vary. we needed white uniforms and specially ordered pinafores ($24 each)and a nametag ($9) stethascopes also vary in price. i just bought a littman for about 50 bucks. being a paramedic, you probably already have one.

as far as job availability on graduation....

thats the hardest one to answer.

nursing shortages come and go. many experts say that this one is not going to resolve itself. who knows?

when i started school in the early 90's there was a shortage. you had to be ACCEPTED to get into nursing school and i can remember being way excited that i got in. at the time i was raising four kids and having to work so it took me nearly four years to complete. by the time i graduated there were no jobs.

all of the hospitals that offered tuition programs had stopped and you pretty much couldnt get a job anywhere unless you knew someone. i can remember one LTC facility that started rn's at 9 bucks an hour. (i made 7 working at kmart)

if security is something thats important to you, as ive said, you can certainly sign a contract for employment in exchange for tuition.

does this help?


22 Posts

Thank you all for replying. I guess I should have given more info. about myself. I have taken most of the credits I need for an AAS degree (two credits away)while I was in college for my Paramedic Cert. So I know I will need those two classes and then 3 biology classes that are pre requisites. I have figured out what the cost of tuition would be, but I was just looking for a ballpark figure for the extras - ie. books, uniforms, ect. I do have my own stethoscope and other tools of the trade. I believe my husband and I would make too much money for me to qualify for any financial aid, but I do currently have a 3.85 GPA. So maybe I could check into grants that are just based off of grades. I am a very anal person when it comes to grades! LOL!

Again, I appreciate all the feed back I have received. Each of you have brought up some very good points and given me some good places to look for further info. Thanks again.

This topic is now closed to further replies.

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X