Seeking Advice in Philadelphia!


Hello all. I have been following for many years and am finally posting! I have had a longing to be a nurse for over 13 years. My concern with following this dream are the costs! I believe I have a game plan in place and would appreciate any feedback. I am not looking at the Post-Bac accelerated programs in the area due to the costs ($35-$45K). Thank you in advance!

Some personal information: I am 36 years old with a BA in a non-healthcare field (and $100K in student debt). I plan to work as a CNA while completing prereqs and possibly during the nursing program at CCP. I have a 9-year-old son and my spouse would be the main source of income for our family during this time. My plan is as follows:

Red Cross CNA program: $1,250(working as a CNA will provide some income and get my foot in the door—would hope to work in a hospital setting)

I am interested in completing CCP’s Post Bac Acceletred Nursing Program: to complete the program prereqs, the cost would be approx. $2,895(4 courses over two academic terms / 1 year).

Estimated cost for CCP’s post-bac program (based on tuition rates online): $6K-$8K(left some wiggle room)

I was able to find some RN-BSN programs for as low as $25K—Total estimated cost over 3 years $37,145.

I would hope to find a nursing position while completing the RN-BSN.

Is this realistic? I feel that I would only be adding an additional year compared to the post-bac programs, but would be able to save a lot of money.

Any feedback/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you all

You may be able to do what your want for less than you've budgeted.

Like you, I had a previous non-nursing degree and went to CC for my ADN (in my case, DCCC). My cost (less than $6k) was less than you've indicated in your post, mostly because it was a number of years ago and because my undergrad work meant that I did not need as many of the prereqs. After passing the NCLEX, I looked around for the least expensive BSN program offered by an established, regionally accredited college. My BSN wound up only being a bit more than the ADN. All told, my BSN was well under $15k. You should take a close look at the ADN-BSN programs offered by various colleges and universities - the cost varies widely but in general, state-affiliated schools are significantly less than private colleges.

One other place I saved money was with textbooks. With only one or two exceptions, I bought the previous edition of whatever text was assigned and almost never paid more than $10. There is some risk in doing this but I found that there was usually very little change between the old and new texts. Most often, the major change was the organization of the chapters. In that case, all you need to do is to see what the chapter headings/descriptions are in the assigned text and then map yours to that. Instructors are often sympathetic and will let you photocopy the table of contents from their text. Failing that, find a rich classmate and beg them for the same thing.

On a related note, the state of PA used to grant the CNA to nurses who passed the NCLEX. You just sent your credentialing in, and the state made your a CNA. I could not find a job as a new grad AD-RN, so went this route until I got my BSN, but I don't know if the state still allows it. It's maybe a less than desirable scenario but it's a way to pay the bills, get more experience and do some networking. Just remember to stay within the CNA scope of practice if you do this.

Good luck.

Edited by chuckster

CalicoKitty, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatrics, Wound Care. Has 10 years experience. 927 Posts

It has been a while, but I thought that Pennsylvania would allow a nursing student become a CNA after passing Adult 1 or something. Regardless, if you want to work sooner, taking a CNA course would be the way to do it. I'm not finding any information about that with searches though.

When I went to CCP, they had an EMT training program. I think it was 1 semester, with really long days (like 10 full Wednesday courses).

To work as a CNA, you'll probably start in a nursing home or rehab for 6 mos- 1 yr before a hospital would consider hiring you.

The 2nd degree accelerated programs are expensive. I think mine was ~$40k. It is also a year of no work (some of my classmates did work part time or weekends). On one hand, you'll save money in tuition and have an income. You'll need pre-req's for either, so that's 1-2 years for either program.

There are more BSN opportunities than RNs, especially in Philadelphia with 10,000 nursing programs. You'll earn more (significantly) more as a nurse than as an aide. I'm not sure about Philly nursing pay, but figure a CNA may earn $15/hr, a nurse may earn $30/hr. Your income as a nurse will be roughly double.

On the other other other hand. Working somewhere as a CNA, you may get tuition reimbursement. Especially if you plan on becoming a nurse and sign a few years of your life away to that company.

It is really a decision for you. Some schools have waiting lists. Especially community colleges...

My suggestion. Get your CNA. Work on your pre-reqs. Try to get a hospital job (tuition reimbursement!). Apply to whatever program(s) you want. Re-evaluate your options when you have some offers on the table.


11 Posts

Hi! I have a BA already and am currently in an accelerated BSN program at Villanova. Because we do our 1st med-surg clinical in the first summer, I was able to get hired as a CNA (really just nursing assistant) on the floor where I did my clinical rotation. So I'll be working per diem during the school year, and the hourly starting rate is $19.96/hr. For many CNA positions in Philly hospitals, unless it's a higher acuity floor, the job postings will say "will consider a nursing student who has at least one medical-surgical rotation." So, that's a plus. Some of the accelerated programs here don't do med-surg first, so you wouldn't have that option.

The other thing is that CCP's post-bac program is in its first year, and it's nursing program overall doesn't have a great rep. So you're probably less likely to get work in the main Philly hospitals, especially with an associates, although it is much cheaper. CCP also is super competitive and has a pretty nasty environment--- although I may be able to say this about all nursing schools. What really erks me about this program is that you spend the same amount of time it would take you in an ABSN.

In general, you really need your BSN here. I worked at a local hospital not doing patient care, and got a $5000 tuition reimbursement which I used to do my prereqs. I then entered the accelerated BSN which will be around 45K, although I don't have as much in loans from my first bachelors.

To be honest with you, I'm not sure spending 37K for the RN-BSN is better than just paying 45K at a school like Villanova and getting the BSN immediately, and then making more to start and getting your foot in the door at some of the better Philly hospitals. If you plan on working in Philly afterwards too, it'll be helpful to have clinicals at places you'd like to work at.

Feel free to message me if you have any additional questions or thoughts!!

Robin Verde, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg newbie. Has 3 years experience. 17 Posts

Hi! Not sure if this helps, but, like you, I already had two non-nursing degrees one in Computer Science and MIS, so I didn't have any biology courses at all. I took all of my pre-requisites and got my ADN at the local community college (With books the ADN cost around $8K). After I graduated I then took and passed the NCLEX and then got my licenses in both PA and NJ. Although I was a licensed nurse, I went to a job fair in Phila and NO ONE would even take my resume because I didn't have a BSN. I then searched high and low for an inexpensive RN to BSN program and ended up getting my degree from the University of Texas at Arlington online for around $9K. Once I got my BSN, I was finally getting responses to my resume.

Not to be a negative Nancy but considering the Hahnemann is closing in a week or so, putting 800 nurses into a market that is already saturated with nurses and nursing students, I'm not sure how easy it would be for you to find a nursing position while you are in school getting your BSN.

Also, you mentioned $100K in student loans. Is that you HAD $100K in student loans or you currently HAVE $100K in student loans? Again, not to be a negative Nancy, and keeping in mind this is absolutely none of my business, but if that $100K in student loans is something you are paying off right now, I honestly would be too afraid to bury myself in more debt. Are you going to pay your BSN off as you go along? I still have student loan debt from the first time I was in school. The only reason that I was able to afford to go to nursing school is because my company paid 85% of the cost of tuition and books for both my ADN and my BSN (They paid for any undergraduate degree even if it wasn't related to our day-to-day work). My family chipped in and paid the rest of it so I could continue putting money on my existing student loans.

I hope this helps a smidge.

La Salle has an RN-BSN that is done online for ~10k that can be completed in a year. Also, a lot of places will consider hiring an ADN graduate as long as you are already enrolled in a BSN program. Obviously the benefits of completing a BSN is the ability to secure a job easier, but there are plenty of places that you can work. Do what is best for you and your budget. If you finish the associate program, then go right back for the RN-BSN, you can save a lot of money.