It was no surprise to Paige Barnhart that she would go to college to pursue an undergraduate science degree. Ever since she can remember, she says she was determined to go to medical school to become a surgeon.
But she caught herself off-guard midway through college when she started to realize that she might want to go from a bachelors in biology to BSN instead of MD.
In her four years as an undergraduate she worked hard, persevering through all the organic chemistry labs and anatomy and physiology courses. But after shadowing an orthopedic surgeon who told her about the educational requirements for his profession, a career as a doctor didn’t seem like the right next step for her anymore.
“He told me, ‘I hope you feel 100 percent sure — it’s four years of med school, then a residency and then an internship, so you’ll be in school for a long, long time. It’s a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of effort,’” she says. “It made reconsider — do I really want to do this?”
It wasn’t until an experience at a hospital soon after that she realized she wanted to interact with patients more than just during rounds. So she decided to change course and become a nurse, choosing to enroll in Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to get a jump-start on her new career goal.
Paige is not unlike other students who at first pursue a biology degree with MD ambitions but later decide to change their professional path toward nursing. Read more about why she decided to turn her bachelors in biology into a BSN through Marian University’s ABSN program below.
She could earn her BSN faster and start working sooner.
For Paige, the decision to change course to nursing began after she completed a stressful second semester of organic chemistry in college.
“My burnout started then but I didn’t know it at the time,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘Am I really going to do this to myself for the next decade of my life?’”
While med school takes several years to complete before your career starts — not to mention internships and residency requirements — you can finish nursing school in far less time, meaning you can be on the job that much sooner.
Paige chose to enroll in Marian University’s ABSN program for that very reason.
“You can complete the program in 16 months and start working in the field faster,” she says. “I spent four years in school for an undergrad degree, so I didn’t want to do four years of regular nursing school. … I never hated going to school, but I more look forward to starting my career.”
Her bachelors in biology gave her a head start.
Students with a bachelors in biology already have a leg up in nursing school before they even begin.
Paige found that to be true in her experience. After working with one of Marian University’s admissions advisors she learned that with her biology degree, she only had to take three prerequisites. That meant she could start the program that much faster.
“I got on Marian’s website, filled out the form for more information one night and got a call from an admissions advisor at 8:30 the next morning,” she says.
She then worked with her advisor to develop a plan to finish her undergrad coursework in December, then take the prerequisites necessary in the spring for her to start nursing school in August. He later helped her throughout the application process and checked in with her weekly to make sure she felt prepared ahead of her August start date.
She’d get real-world experience in a trusted hospital network.
Another motivating factor in Paige’s decision to enroll in Marian University’s ABSN program? The fact that clinicals start the first semester of the program and take place at St. Vincent, one of Indiana’s top hospital networks, as part of a close-knit partnership with Marian University, she says.
“One of my friends who went to school to be a teacher didn’t get to be in a classroom setting before graduating, then realized she didn’t like it,” she says. “Being in the hospital setting sooner rather than later gets you prepared for your career.”
The specialized curriculum offered through Marian University’s ABSN program also solidified her decision to enroll. Not to mention, the education and clinical experience she’ll gain by having a BSN will open up even more professional pathways for her.
“I want to be a labor and delivery RN, so I liked that the first eight weeks is maternity and another eight weeks is OB,” she says.
Her advice to others considering going from bachelors in biology to BSN:
Be ready to adapt your learning
While it’s true the subject matter you learned while obtaining your bachelors in biology prepares you for the rigors of nursing school, be ready to apply what you know to individual patient situations.
Paige says the disciplined problem-solving skills she acquired during her undergraduate years made her feel ready to take the leap into nursing school.
“Biology and chemistry are cut-and-dry, black-and-white subjects; nursing is situational and all the colors in the gray area,” she says.
Remember why you’re doing it
If you’re motivated by the chance to make a lasting difference in patients’ lives, a career in nursing is for you. In fact, it’s usually nurses who have more contact with patients than doctors or even physician’s assistants — a major reason Paige decided to become a nurse.
“People in my situation didn’t want to be doctors for the money; they wanted to work with people,” she says. “Bottom line: If nursing is what you’re passionate about, then do it.”
If you’re no longer interested in a career in biology or postgraduate study but still want to use your degree, pursuing an ABSN through Marian University to become a nurse may be a good path for you. Contact an admissions advisor today to learn how you can leverage your bachelors in biology toward a career as a nurse.