Back to School: How to Change Careers to Nursing in 6 Steps

take a chance on a new career.

Thinking about becoming a nurse but don’t know how to switch careers? Not to worry. In this month’s post, we’ll be discussing how to change careers to nursing. Let's starts with the 6 steps to becoming a registered nurse.

Step 1: Talk to an Admissions Representative

Once you’ve found a program that interests you, the first step is to talk to an admissions representative. An admissions representative will help you determine if the program is right for you, as well as play a critical role in helping you navigate the admissions process.  From developing an academic plan to identifying any prerequisite courses you’ll need to complete to be eligible for admittance into the program to submitting your nursing school application, your admissions representative is your guide through it all.

To make the most of your first call, we recommend having your college transcripts (or at the very least, your unofficial transcripts) available, as your representative will need them to verify your GPA, course history, and so on.

Step 2: Fulfill Any Outstanding ABSN Prerequisites

How many prerequisite courses you’ll need to take depends largely on your academic experience. Because many of the nursing prerequisites are science-based courses, applicants with Bachelor of Science degrees tend to have more of the prereqs than those with Bachelor of Arts degrees. As a Catholic, Franciscan university, all of Madonna’s ABSN students are required to take six credits of religion courses.

Step 3: Apply for Nursing School

Once you’ve met the prerequisite requirements of our accelerated nursing program, your representative will help guide you through the process of applying, which includes submitting a letter of intent to the College of Nursing. Additionally, students who do not already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree will need to complete a writing assessment.

Step 4: Earn Your Nursing Degree

This is it, the moment you’ve been working toward. It took hard work to get here, and it’s going to take a lot more hard work, but it will all be worth it when you graduate. To help you succeed, here are few recommendations to keep in mind while working through the program:

  • If at all possible, avoid working while in the program. Between coursework, labs, clinicals, and studying, the ABSN program is a lot like having a full-time job.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to your instructors for help. If you have questions or need help, let your instructors know. Remember, they’re here for your success.
  • Develop a routine and stick to it. It can be easy to fall behind in any nursing program, especially an accelerated program. Set a schedule for studying, doing coursework, etc., and stick to it.
  • Make time for yourself. While eating, sleeping, and breathing nursing school may seem like a good strategy, it can also be a recipe for burnout. Be sure to take time to unwind and clear your head, whether that’s going for a run or meeting up with friends.
  • Find a study-buddy. You and your cohort are in this together. Take advantage of that. Find a study-buddy (or two) and meet regularly to review concepts, prepare for tests and exams, etc.
Madonna simulation lab
A group of nursing students react to the changing condition of a high-tech medical manikin in a simulated lab experience controlled by their clinical instructor on the Madonna University campus. Though the instructor can see the students’ every move, they cannot see her. Simulation activities help nursing students to put what they’ve learned into practice in a safe environment that resembles a real-life hospital setting.

Step 5: Sit for the NCLEX-RN

The final major hurdle toward becoming a registered nurse is to take the NCLEX, which you must pass in order to obtain a nursing license. You have just three tries to pass the NCLEX each year, so don’t wait until the last minute to study. Throughout the program, you’ll take practice exams designed to help you prepare to take the NCLEX. Additionally, there are many great resources available online to help you get ready.

Step 6: Apply for Your Nursing License

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX, becoming a registered nurse is just a matter of applying for a license. To apply for a nursing license, visit the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. There you’ll find up-to-date information and a video on how to complete the process.

Your new nursing career is diverse and offers a lot of potential. Changing your career to nursing could be the best thing you've ever done for yourself.

Why Should You Consider a Career in Nursing?

Nursing Is an Exciting and In-Demand Career with Room for Growth

Nursing makes for an exciting career for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the fulfillment that comes from helping people or the exhilaration that comes with never knowing exactly what the day will hold in store. For others, it’s the wealth of opportunities the future holds. Not to mention you can use your nursing education and experience to pursue a number of advanced or nursing-related careers (some of which will require additional nursing education). Careers such as nurse navigator, nurse legal consultant, nurse practitioner, nurse manager, and many others are all within reach.

But nursing isn’t just a smart career choice because of the opportunities available. Nursing consistently ranks as one of the most in-demand jobs, year after year, and for good reason. For decades, the U.S. has been experiencing a nursing shortage — a problem that will only get worse as a result of a perfect storm of conditions:

  • Expanded access to healthcare services — in other words, more patients
  • Increased prevalence of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
  • The aging of the Baby Boomer generation (and the accelerating rate at which they’re retiring out of the workforce)

Compounding this problem are nursing school faculty levels. Seasoned nurses are often hesitant to leave lucrative nursing careers to become nurse educators. As a result, the demand for nurse educators outweighs the supply, forcing many nursing programs to impose wait lists, creating a bottleneck at a time when we need to be graduating more nurses, not fewer.

Enter hybrid, accelerated nursing programs like Madonna’s ABSN, which blends online learning with hands-on skills and simulation labs, and clinical practice. By replacing in-class lectures with interactive, online coursework, fewer nurse educators are required, making it possible for more people to follow their dreams of becoming registered nurses.

Why Earn a BSN Degree?

nurse with infant patient

There are several paths to becoming a nurse, though one thing is for certain: While many schools offer associate’s degrees in nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is your best bet. This is especially true as many hospitals and healthcare providers are now hiring only registered nurses with BSN degrees or higher in an effort to meet the 80% by 2020 initiative.

Typically, it takes four years of college to earn a BSN. However, for those who already have college credits or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program offers a quicker, more direct path to becoming a registered nurse. In fact, with Madonna University’s accredited ABSN program, you can earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months.

Which brings us to one other consideration … accreditation.

Nursing School Accreditation Matters

One might be tempted to think that because nurses are in such high demand, it doesn’t matter where you go to school for nursing. That’s just not true. When selecting a nursing school and program, it’s crucial that you choose a school that is properly accredited. Not only does accreditation ensure the education you receive qualifies you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN); it can make a big difference should you wish to return to school later in your career to pursue an advanced nursing degree, as most advanced programs will not accept nursing degrees obtained from non-accredited schools.

Madonna University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and our nursing school is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Ready to Pursue a Career in Nursing?

If nursing is in your future, there’s no better time than right now to make the switch to a career in nursing. Give us a call at 844-319-2107 or fill out the form to have one of our admissions representatives call you.