There are so many incredible opportunities within nursing. It is the perfect career choice for those who are compassionate, fascinated by health and medicine, and who want to make a difference. Nursing is a massive sector, and it is only growing, and with that growth comes new opportunities. 

Nursing has undergone massive changes in the previous decades. Today you can earn a doctorate as a nurse, can earn six-figure salaries, and can even open up your own clinical practice in some states. While the rules are constantly in flux as nurses are used more frequently to offset the physician shortage, the possibilities for nursing in the future are vast. 

You can customize your career as a nurse and find the perfect fit. If that fit isn’t working directly with patients, you have so many rewarding alternatives. If you want to slow down, you have many exciting opportunities. Healthcare as a whole is entering an entirely new epoch. With the arrival of telehealth, new roles, new opportunities, and more job openings will become common. 

There has never been a better time to become a nurse. Not only are there so many openings, but there are also more paths into nursing than before. Use this guide to help you make the transition and to kickstart your new, exciting career in nursing. 

Benefits of Transitioning Your Career into Nursing 

Nursing is not for everyone. It is a very demanding career option that does, admittedly, need to be overhauled and improved. The good news is that nursing is more than working in a hospital. There are so many great ways that you can take your career to the next level and so many unique opportunities to advance. 

  • Great Career Opportunities 

You can work almost everywhere as a nurse since your specialization is human health and wellbeing. You can work within the health sector, in the private sector, in public policy, in research, and even in academia. There are so many wonderful options that will allow you to take your skillset and knowledge and use them in an exciting career path. 

  • Excellent Job Prospects 

There is a global shortage of nurses, and this shortage is only set to increase in the coming years as the population continues to grow and previous nurses retire. This means that there are many open positions and a greater opportunity to negotiate a higher salary and benefits as a result. 

  • The Ability to Make a Difference 

Nurses are compassionate people who first and foremost want to help others. Nursing is an excellent option as it allows you to save lives, improve the quality of care, and really work towards a better future for all. People remember the great nurses that got them through one of the toughest situations they will have experienced in their lives. 

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How to Transition Your Career into Nursing 

Transitioning your career into nursing can be as simple as taking an accelerated degree that you can finish in 15 months, or it can be as involved as earning a full BSN or even BSN and master’s integrated degree. The route that will suit you best depends on how late in your career you are looking to transition into nursing. If you already have an undergraduate degree, for example, you will often be better off earning an ABSN. If you do not yet have an undergraduate degree or have a degree or certificate that does not have the prerequisite credits necessary, there are a few ways to earn your RN certification. 

If You Have an Undergraduate Degree 

If you already have an undergraduate degree and either have all or most of these prerequisite credits, you can easily apply for an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN): 

  • Human anatomy 
  • Human physiology 
  • Microbiology 
  • Organic chemistry or general chemistry I & II 
  • Introduction to psychology 
  • Social science 
  • Philosophy 
  • Statistics or algebra 

These credits will need to have been earned within the last five years in order to transfer them towards your nursing degree. If you are missing a few, then there are ways that you can earn the credits you are missing individually. It is always worthwhile getting in touch with the admissions team to learn more about what you need to apply for the accelerated degree, so you can work out the costs and which route will be more cost-effective for your goals. 

An ABSN nursing program allows you to train and become a nurse in just 15 months. With the exception of two on-campus residencies and your clinical placement, you can take on the degree remotely and online, allowing you to save by staying at home instead of relocating. Between the in-depth and engaging curriculum and the clinical placement, you will be more than ready to take the CNLEX exam and pass, making you a fully qualified BSN-RN.

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If You Do Not Have a Degree 

If you don’t already have a degree, don’t worry. Rather than go for the accelerated option, you will simply need to go through the more traditional route into nursing. You can earn a full BSN instead of the ABSN, for example, or if you need to get started working quickly, you could alternatively earn the associate’s degree in nursing first. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to finish a BSN later on if you do go down the ADN route, as you cannot continue your nursing education without a full bachelor’s. 

That being said, you can almost always transfer the credits you earned in your associate’s degree towards a BSN. This means you can essentially do half of your BSN credits, become a certified RN, and then finish the rest of the BSN credits to become a BSN-RN. 

Even with BSN degrees, you have options. You could opt for an online, part-time option so you can earn your degree around your current work. You could even opt for a direct-entry master’s program. Programs like these allow you to achieve your BSN qualification and an additional master’s program like a master’s in clinical nurse leadership all at once. 

Some Things to Consider When Getting Your Certification 

You want to get the best out of your career, which is why before you get started on either your ABSN, your BSN, or your ADN, you will want to consider a few key factors. The first is where you are located and where you want to work, the second is what you can do with your career down the line, and the third is what wage you are expecting and how to earn the higher percentage of wages. Being aware of all three of these can help prepare you for a thriving career in nursing where you are in control. 

  • Where You Are Located 

Nursing is not a universal role. Just like with many positions that require a license, you will be limited in where you can work. That is why it is actually crucial that you consider where you live and where you want to work first. If you want to work in California or in another state that statistically pays higher for nurses, then you will need to move there and earn your qualification there first. 

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The good news is that most states actually offer a multi-state license. You will need to be living in an enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact state in order to earn a multi-state license. Most of the states in the country are currently with the eNLC, but there are some big exclusions to take note of, like California. 

Weigh up the pros and cons and consider what you want out of your career. This will help you decide whether to move or not before you get started with your training. 

  • What Your Options in Nursing Are 

This isn’t a necessity, but it can help you stay focused and, most importantly, can help you make better decisions about your career moving forward. By understanding the full list of nursing roles that are out there, you can make more confident steps towards a role that suits your work/life needs and your interests. You never have to feel bad about moving away from patient care and into research or academics, for example. The simple fact is that nurses are needed everywhere, and your patients, students, or the public as a whole will be better off if you love your career. By having a better understanding of what you can do as a nurse, you have the power to transition and move in the direction that suits you best. 

  • What the Average Wage Is for Your Role

Nursing can be a very well-paid job, but it can also feel like you are underpaid for what you are doing. In order to always get what your work is worth, you need to stay up to date with the average wage of nurses in your state and at the hospital or workplace you are currently in. Negotiating before every job is how you can consistently earn a higher wage. When in doubt, of course, know that you can often get paid more as a travel nurse, although you will need to manage and cover many of the auxiliary benefits like paying into a pension on your own, as you will essentially be freelancing.