Nursing as Second Career: ABSN Question

U.S.A. Virginia


Hi Everyone!

This is my first time posting on here, and I'm not usually one to post in online forums, however I could use some advice!

A little background about me and why I'm posting:

I'm a 25 year old female young professional with an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Business IT with a concentration in supply chain management. I currently work for a large company in the Richmond, Va area, and I'm very thankful to be here near family with a job with good benefits!

I've always considered a career in the healthcare industry, however I was always intimidated by the amount of math and science required, since I'm not naturally gifted in those areas, so I never really tried to seek a degree leading in that direction! I've only been in the workforce for about 2 years, however it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that my reserves about the business world might be truer every day that the business world is not for me (politics, lack of genuine care for people, constant concern over promotions, etc.). I keep coming back to the idea of becoming a nurse because I would be able to support myself and my lifestyle, help people every day, have a relatively stable job nationwide when comparing it to job stability in business, and do something that truly matters every day. I know that every industry has its woes and politics, and that not every day is a good day, however I can't help but continue to wonder if I should really do something about it now while I'm young and can financially recover instead of having bigger regrets later in life.

I've done some research, and if I were to undertake this, I would like to do the ABSN offered by VCU. I would eventually like to be a CRNA, and I know this requires more schooling after gaining experience first. I know nothing is ever guaranteed, however VCU would really be my only option! My cousin who is a nurse suggested online nursing degrees, however I'm not certain that would be a good idea given that I'm not naturally gifted in science and would probably need the in class environment. I would certainly have to take all the pre-reqs, and my thought would be to take those at a community college in the evening while I'm still working so I can still have an income and pay for the classes. For the program itself, I would obviously have to quit my job and take out loans and try to get scholarships to pay for school and living expenses, which makes me nervous! I would be leaving a great company with good pay and benefits to have zero pay and benefits for the next almost two years while getting myself into debt, which I have none of right now. An important part of this story is that if I were to stay in business, my company has a 100% financial reimbursement for higher education, so I could go get my MBA or a business related masters degree and still be debt free. I'm very unsure about what to do, and am hoping some of you have some advice for someone like me! Please be gentle with the criticism as I already have plenty of that :) Now, here are my questions!

1. Is it worth leaving a company with good pay/benefits/ educational reimbursement program to go for an ABSN when there's no guarantee of getting into a program, passing the NCLEX, getting a nursing job?

2. If you did a ABSN, based on your experience, would you do it again?

3. Based on what I've said, would you suggest I try to make the "business thing" work? (I'm really concerned about the debt.)

I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting some questions since I've got so many things running through my mind, but I really appreciate you reading this long post and offering any advice/encouragement that you may have! :)

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

What is it about nursing that really attracts you? You have to realize that you may not always feel like you are making a difference or saving lives every day. You might want to try to shadow some nurses at your area hospitals to get a true sense of what nursing is really like. There are so many people who leave nursing almost immediately because it isn't what they think it is. They think they will make great money and feel fulfilled right out of the gate, and that is not realistic. You have two years in your current career and you already want to jump ship and incur a lot of debt in the process; will you do the same if you don't like nursing, or if you have difficulty finding a job you like? The nursing shortage is a myth. Make sure you investigate trends in your area. The more schools around, the more new grads vying for jobs. Your advantage would be having the BSN, and many employers prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses.

Why CRNA? Do you know what they really do? Have you ever watched one work?

I'm not sure I understand your expectations... are you wanting to avoid the emotional stress that is common in a competitive business environment? Do you expect that there won't be a lot of emotional stress practicing as a nurse? If you are by nature stress averse, that might be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Might be more effective to address the stress aversion first, and see if that solves the root problem.

Hi Pixie R.N.,

I appreciate your thoughts! Then bits about nursing that attracts me are that the human body is fascinating to me in how it operates, so I would be able to learn about that and see it first hand, the fact that I would be helping people (although I agree, not every day is a day where I will feel like I'm helping someone or saving their life every day. I don't expect good days every day or even partially good days every day), and a chance to be in an industry that is pretty flexible and stable when it comes to what you can do with your career and where you can go. I don't think I would "jump ship" if I couldn't get a job in nursing. The point is, I'd like to work in a industry that works towards helping people. I know the market is pretty saturated, I'm sure a lot of markets are! That's nothing new to me, coming from a business grad.

I have not shadowed a CRNA, but I do know what they do. I think it's a great idea to shadow one to become more informed about their jobs.


I'm not looking to change industries to avoid emotional stress since I understand this will be found in every job. I just want to feel like my stress is worth it! I think it's great advice to work on stress aversion, regardless.

What made you both attracted to and decide to get into nursing?

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

I was a paramedic for five years before I became an RN. Working as an ER tech, I was exposed to the diversity in ER nursing opportunities, far beyond prehospital. Nursing is extremely diverse and there are many things you can do later besides bedside nursing, but the caveat is that those positions usually require a few years of acute care experience first. I worked as a desktop publisher/graphic designer for a government consulting firm for about a decade before switching to healthcare full time, which meant a pay cut initially.

Best of luck, whatever you decide to do! :)

Hey! I think you should give the nursing world a try. With your current degree and your RN degree, you can always work in informatics if you decide that you don't like bedside nursing. Also, nursing is more than bedside nursing. You can do so much with nursing. You can be a teacher, manager, bedside nurse, flight nurse, and so much more!!! Don't worry about the debt from it. I promise you will make that debt back! If you love business and you want to stay in that same type of position for the rest of your life then I would recommend staying in business. The great thing about nursing is that if you get burned out in one specialty you can move to the next!!! With business, if you get burned out then you have to completely change your career!

It is completely up to you with what you decide to do. I personally LOVE nursing and have had experience in OB/GYN, home health, long term care, management, and now surgical med-surg. I love my job and I love helping others. The variety of positions that you can obtain with a nursing degree is far more than you've ever imagined!

YOu can take your pre-requisites at night while you're still working in your current position and then apply to nursing schools. This way you can see where you will get accepted and not have to leave your job because I know that was one of the first questions you asked above.

you're not guaranteed to pass the NCLEX, but school really does prepare you to pass the nclex. You're not guaranteed a job but I have never heard of a nurse not being able to obtain a job...there is always a need for a nurse. NOw it may not be in the specialty you like at first, but you have to start from somewhere and then you can gain the experience and switch to the specialty you love!

If I went back in time I would definitely do it all over again. I started out as a LPN and then obtained my RN and I am currently working on my Master's. Now, the schooling part sucks! NO lie, I used to hate clinicals but the real world is NOTHING like clinicals and nursing school! There is not one day that I regret the decision to become a nurse. Helping others is my passion and I love coming to work to nurture and help others get their health and life back! There are days where I want to pull my hair out and scream! Yes, it is VERY stressful, but it is the most rewarding! When patients tell you "you're a great nurse," "you have really taken great care of me," and things like that then you will know that everything you've been through to lead up to that point has been worth it!

I would recommend looking up Marcus Engel, The other side of the stethoscope. He is truly an inspiration and a reason that I left management and came back to bedside nursing!!! If you have a passion for others, don't let money/debt stop you from your dreams! I hope this helps. Please also reach out to me if you have any questions. Again, this is your decision. Do you feel in your heart that business is your passion or nursing?

I would shadow a few nurses in different areas or volunteer at a hospital to see what nurses really do. There are so many option for nurses, which is really great and many options beyond bedside. CRNA is a great career, but it will be a long road (3 years school when you cannot work at all--so likely means A LOT more student loans for you + 1-2 years ICU experience). The good thing is that you're young and have a long working career to earn money and pay back student loans so the opportunity cost is lower given your age IMO. If you are really averse to taking out student loans now, can you go to a community college nursing program while working? That's what I did and while it was exhausting I was able to make it work. I went to a hybrid program where the lectures were online and the clinicals were on Saturdays (NVCC).

Fellow second career nursing student here. I'm 32 year old with a BA in business writing. I'm currently employed both full-time AND part-time (at a local hospital) and I'm about to enter my 3rd semester of nursing school at John Tyler. I also have three kids!

I would recommend, if you do decide to move forward, to check out community colleges. Maybe diving STRAIGHT into a BSN will leave you with more debt than you'd intended, especially if you end up not liking it. Community colleges are relatively inexpensive, and they have some GREAT programs here in Virginia, with excellent pass rates for the NCLEX.

I recommend this because, if you were to go through and get your RN, then get hired, it's very possible the hospital or employer you work with might be willing to pay for you to go back to school so that you're not being buried beneath a bunch of debt.

Whatever you choose to do though, just know you're not alone, and that it can be done! You may not have any hair left and you may be nothing but a puddle of coffee when you're done, but it CAN be done! :)

I am soooo glad for this post and the replies thus far. I am some what in the same boat. However, I am 33, have a job established in corporate america and student loan debt from prior schooling. I have been completing pre reqs at J. Sarg and just completed my CNA course (hopefully taking boards next month). My hurdle is leaving my current job and not being able to just pay for basic living expenses and my car since I live alone. Should I get into nursing school....that "leap" will be a big one.

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