Back to School: How to Pursue a Career Switch to Nursing in 6 Steps

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (844) 319-2107.

Considering a career switch to nursing? Check out these 6 actionable steps to achieve that goal. At Madonna University, switching careers to nursing is very possible and can be very rewarding. Changing careers is not easy and so there are a few things to keep in mind when entering nursing school.

woman holding moving box

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 switching careers to nursing. At Madonna University, our ABSN program is meant for those who want to switch careers to nursing. We will be going into six actionable steps to take to begin this process, but before that, let’s discuss why a career switch to nursing is a good idea.

Why Should You Consider a Career in Nursing?

Nursing is a field that is growing and one with positive outlook. Ranked #8 in Best Health Care Jobs and #17 in 100 Best Jobs across fields by U.S. News and World Report, nursing is a field that could provide you with satisfaction in many different ways. For some nursing is a good way to make a living, with the median salary being $77,600 in 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For others, 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. Others still find value in nursing in the wealth of opportunities the future holds for the profession.

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.

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?

There are several paths to becoming a nurse, though one thing is for certain: While many schools offer associate 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.

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.

Madonna ABSN student working with sim manikin

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 is not accurate. 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).

Now let’s move into the steps you can take to start pursuing this career change.

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 can sometimes 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.

Build your nursing career on a solid foundation - Madonna ABSN student in scrubs

Check out Madonna’s prerequisites in more detail.

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 and Health. 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 to pursue your career change to nurse:

  • If possible, avoid working while in the program. Between coursework, labs, clinicals, and studying, the ABSN program can carry a similar level of commitment as 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.

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 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.

Madonna student reading text book

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.

Some Final Tips for Career Change

Making the decision to pursue a career switch to nursing is good, but during the program you will face some challenges. To be prepared it is important to:

  • Be as organized as you can be financially and in terms of time management skills.
  • Build a support system with trusted family and friends so that you have help when things get difficult.
  • Get any practical experience you can.

By starting here, you will have the opportunity to be successful in nursing school and be able to pursue nursing as a second career.

Madonna ABSN student working with sim manikin

Learn more about what nursing school is like.

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. Call us at 844-319-2107 or fill out the form to have one of our admissions representatives contact you.