Having a career change can increase your salary, boost your job satisfaction, and improve your work-life balance, along with other job benefits. Having a career change later in life is easier than ever with the help of convenient online qualifications. Everyone should be happy at work, and there are countless career possibilities if you’re feeling unfilled in your current role. You must research various career paths and choose a job role that is well matched to your skills, passions, and work preferences.
Becoming a nurse could be the ideal job choice for someone who wants to help others and make a positive difference throughout their career. Not only is nursing highly rewarding, but it is also a growing industry with excellent job security and advancement opportunities. Training to become a nurse takes time, and you will need to earn the necessary nursing certifications to become licensed. A career switch can seem daunting, but it’s never too late to change your career and do something more meaningful in your working life. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to change your career and become a nurse:
Do plenty of research
If you are considering a career change to nursing, your first step should be to do plenty of research. It is essential that you gain a clear understanding of the role, what will be involved in the transition, and what you will need to do to retrain as a nurse. You can find huge amounts of useful information on nursing by visiting authoritative websites like nursingworld.org or careerexplorer.com. Nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, and you must have a realistic idea of what will be involved on a day to day basis. You should also research other key factors, such as salary expectations, working conditions, and required nursing certifications. Research is crucial as it will help you determine whether a career in nursing is right for you. Retraining to become a nurse is a huge commitment, so you must check that it is the right choice before you begin studying for the required nursing certifications and invest time and money in retraining.
Earn nursing certifications online
Most people who are switching careers have commitments preventing them from attending campus-based courses. This may be because they have a family to take care of or need to work to make monthly mortgage payments, for example. Online qualifications are an excellent option for people considering a career change in later life. Remote learning allows you to earn the necessary nursing certifications from home, without the need to travel to a campus or attend set lesson sessions. This gives you the freedom to fit learning around your existing schedule and commitments. According to Study International, some additional benefits of studying online include lower costs, 24-hour access to course materials, and the chance to create your ideal learning environment. If you choose to study nursing certifications online, then make sure that you read the course description carefully before you enroll. Keep in mind that you will need to be extremely organized with your time and self-motivated to get the most out of online nursing certifications.
Consider fast-track nursing certifications
The traditional route to becoming a licensed nurse requires a four-year bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s program that typically takes one or two years to complete. Understandably, many people who are considering a career switch in later life want to expedite this process and avoid spending several years studying for nursing certifications. Fortunately, it is possible to speed up the amount of time it takes to qualify as a nurse by opting to complete fast-track nursing certifications. Experts at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) explain how the quickest way to become a registered nurse is to complete an accelerated baccalaureate and master’s degree in nursing. The course can be completed in as little as 11-18 months, making it far more convenient for those who are considering a career change in later life. Accelerated nursing certifications are designed for people who have already earned a graduate degree in a non-nursing discipline. If you decide that an accelerated nursing certification is the right option for you, keep in mind that these programs are intense and typically have higher academic expectations than traditional nursing programs.
Gain professional experience
Professional experience is essential when you’re considering a career change. Most employers in the healthcare sector will expect you to have a minimum amount of experience when you apply for jobs in the field. Placements and internships give you valuable insight into the industry and help you to develop your skills and knowledge outside of the classroom. Building relevant nursing experience will also demonstrate your passion for the field, which will give you a competitive edge when you start applying for positions. In most cases, you will be required to complete a certain amount of placement hours while studying for your nursing certifications. That said, it’s advisable to start building clinical experience as early as possible. Volunteering can be a great way to gain nursing experience. Many healthcare settings accept volunteers, including hospitals, senior care homes, and private outpatient centers. In most cases, the time commitments are low and you will only need to volunteer for one or two hours a week. Applying for entry-level positions, such as a medical assistant or a nursing assistant, can be another excellent way to gain experience in a clinical setting. You can also use internships to connect with people in the healthcare industry and expand your professional network. These connections may prove extremely useful when you start applying for roles once you complete the necessary nursing certifications.
Choose a nursing specialty
Nursing is a broad sector and nurses can specialize in various sectors. Choosing a nursing specialism will allow you to focus on an area of interest and become an expert in that field. Specializing can also enable nurses to boost their earnings and improve their future job outlook. Some of the most popular nursing specialties include nurse-midwife, ICU nurse, and nurse practitioner. There are also some unusual nursing specialties, such as a camp nurse, NASCAR nurse, flight nurse, and parish nurse. The various nursing specialties offer different advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to take the time to learn about the different roles. You can explore the various nursing specialties by doing research online, speaking with people working in the field, and completing internships and placements. This will help you determine which nursing specialty is best for you. Generally, you will have the opportunity to specialize in your chosen area while you are completing nursing certifications, such as a master’s in nursing.
Apply for financial support while you train
If you are considering retraining as a nurse, then deciding how to pay for nursing school is likely to be weighing heavily on your mind. Earning the required nursing certifications is not cheap, and most nursing programs cost thousands of dollars in tuition fees. Fortunately, there are various government assistance programs designed to support people who want to change careers. Make sure that you research what schemes are available and take advantage of any financial support on offer. Here are some nursing financial aid programs that you may qualify for while earning your nursing certifications:
- NURSE Corps – This is a scholarship program that is given to student nurses who agree to work in a critical shortage facility (CSF) once they have completed their nursing certifications. The scholarship can provide funding to cover various expenses, including tuition fees, coursebooks, and nursing uniforms.
- Scholarships to disadvantaged students – This scholarship is awarded to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as from low-income families.
- Nursing student loans – The government provides student nurses with loans to help cover the costs of tuition, books, and other course supplies. Once employed, nurses must start repaying student loans in monthly repayments.
Sit the NCLEX-RN exam
The last hurdle before becoming a registered nurse is to sit the NCLEX-RN exam. This is a licensure requirement in most states. Once you have earned the necessary nursing certifications, you will usually need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before you can apply for a nursing license. The NCLEX-RN exam requirements are enforced to check that you have obtained the skills and experience needed to practice nursing safely and effectively. You can sit the exam up to three times in one year. If you fail the exam on your third attempt, then you will need to complete the registration process again and repay the application fee ($200). On the day of the exam, you should arrive at the assessment center at least 30 minutes early and remember to bring a form of identification.
While you’re completing your nursing certifications, you will take various assessments designed to prepare you for the NCLEX-RN exam. However, it’s a good idea to start revising for the test early to increase your chances of passing. Some core subject topics covered in the exam include continuity of care, assistive devices, disease prevention, and medication administration. The test is computerized and includes between 185 and 200 questions. You can expect to receive your results within six weeks after you have completed the test. You can also complete NCLEX-RN practice tests online to help you prepare for the exam. Once you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam, you can apply for a nursing license. This can be done via a simple online application in most cases. Each state sets its own requirements for nursing licensure, so make sure that you verify what is required beforehand. You can check the licensing requirements in your state by visiting sites like nursinglicensemap.
Write a new resume
Your resume is your most valuable tool when you start to search for job opportunities in the nursing sector. Employers want your resume to demonstrate that you have the skills and experience needed to excel in a nursing position. You are unlikely to be offered an interview if your resume is poorly written, for example, if it has grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Take the time to write a quality resume that will impress hiring managers. Make sure that you include essential information, such as your nursing certifications, clinical experience, volunteer work, and so on. Your resume should be detailed yet concise, and you should try to keep it to one to two pages if possible. You can download free templates online to help you draft your nursing resume.
Speak to your current employer
Don’t forget that you will also need to make your current employer aware of your career change. Most employers require four weeks’ notice, but you should always try to provide as much notice as possible. This will give your employer enough time to hire a suitable replacement before you finish. You could even offer to help your employer find and train your replacement to ensure a smooth transition after you leave. Telling your employer that you’re leaving can be a difficult conversation, but you must try to be as direct as possible. Being open and honest with your employer about your career change will help to ensure that you leave on good terms. It is always a good idea to maintain a good relationship with your former employers, especially when you may need to approach them for a reference in the future. There are plenty of articles offering advice on how to tell your employer that you’re changing jobs.
Many people reach a point when they question their career choices. You are likely to be working for most of your adult life, so you must get enjoyment from your career. If you’re unhappy in your current job role, remember that it’s never too later to switch careers. Nursing is an exciting and dynamic industry with plenty of opportunities to grow. Online nursing certifications have made it easier than ever for people to retrain as nurses and enter this rewarding field. If you’re considering a career change to nursing, use the above suggestions to help you earn the necessary nursing certifications, and enjoy a smooth transition into the nursing industry.
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Brett is the Managing Editor of this website. A former business executive turned teacher, activist, and writer, Brett also operates an anonymous Twitter account with a very large following.