Record numbers of people are training to join the nursing profession, and in many cases, these are not students straight out of college, but mature students who have completed an unrelated degree or worked in another career and are now choosing nursing as a new career path.
What is prompting people to take up nursing later in life?
There are many reasons why people are choosing to move into nursing some years later in life, rather than studying for a nursing qualification straight after high school. The motives will depend on the individual, but there are some commonly seen reasons.
Nursing is one of the most rewarding careers
Students graduating from high school are not always clear on the direction they want to take, and some will find themselves in studies or jobs which they do not find rewarding. Nursing gives a clear sense of purpose and satisfaction, continually ranking in lists of most rewarding careers. Being a nurse is a highly responsible job, and if you are naturally a nurturing person with attention to detail, it could be the career for you. Anyone looking to give something back will find nursing an ideal role, as it means making a difference and changing lives every day.
Online study options
With the convenience of online nursing degree programs, transitioning into a career in nursing is very straightforward, and can even be done in as little as a year.
Online BSN programs for non-nurses provide a way of completing a swift transition from another career into nursing. Programs such as the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ASBN), are designed for graduates in a different discipline who want to move into nursing. The Louise Herrington School of Nursing Online at Baylor University offers a full-time ASBN hybrid program, taught primarily online, with some clinical and lab experience, including 62 hours of nursing work. Advisors at the university provide support with finding a clinical placement, which forms part of the course. The school is ranked in the top 10 best nursing colleges in the US, and 90% of students have a job offer by the point of graduation.
In addition to the resources available through your chosen university, you will also find plenty of learning guidance and information on other sites which can aid you with your online nursing studies.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked more interest in healthcare professions. Although there were many reports of burnout amongst healthcare professionals during the height of the pandemic, the people working on the frontline were universally recognized for the everyday heroes they are. And while some people did choose to leave the profession, there has since been a significant increase in the number of people applying to join nursing, as well as other medical careers. Indeed, many universities have experienced significant increases in the number of applicants, making the application process more competitive. Having more years of life experience and evidence of a strong performance in other jobs can put you in a good position to compete with candidates who have not worked previously.
Career changes are easier than ever
Second careers are gaining in popularity, and people often look for a major change of direction in their second career. This is becoming easier to do as employers recognize the value of earlier work experience in a different setting. Employers have a greater appreciation of how many transferable skills a candidate may have, even where their previous experience is far removed from nursing. These could include skills such as dealing with customers and problem-solving.
Age is not a barrier
There are no barriers to a career in nursing beginning later in life. The National Nursing Workforce Survey conducted in 2020 found that the average age of registered nurses (RN) in employment was 52 years. According to the National League for Nursing. Other life skills and maturity are assets when it comes to nursing.
There are also many choices for the type of nursing you work in, so if you do not feel you have the stamina for demanding shift patterns, such as in emergency care, there are many alternative options for nursing careers. This is also helpful if you need to work more regular hours to accommodate other commitments.
Compensation and security
In 2020 the median salary for a registered nurse (RN) was $75,330. The level of pay varies by role and health care setting. For example, nurses in educational organizations earned a median salary of $64,630, while the median salary for government-employed nurses was $84,490.
There is an ongoing and increasing demand for nursing staff in a wide range of organizations, from hospitals to outpatient clinics. There is no shortage of job vacancies — rather it is nurses that are in short supply, so there are plenty of opportunities for employment. With an aging population, there is expected to be additional demand for nurses in a range of fields, including senior care. Another area of healthcare where further growth is anticipated is in population health, with programs designed to promote positive health for particular population sectors, and where possible prevent illnesses and conditions from developing.
When you work in nursing, you can expect to find plenty of opportunities for progressing to leadership positions or specialist nursing roles, such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.
Flexible shift patterns
Nursing is commonly associated with long shift patterns, and this is likely to be the case in some hospital wards, particularly in emergency care. However, some new entrants to the profession might be surprised at the wide range of options available for working hours in nursing. Hours and shifts will depend on the type of role you have, and the healthcare setting you are in. There are also many other options in nursing, including working in private homes, and working in educational settings, where hours may be very different.
Whatever your reasons for moving into nursing later in life, you are sure to find it a rewarding career and there will be plenty of opportunities open to you for specialization and progression. Explore your options for a smooth career transition into nursing with an online nursing degree.