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Going Back to School for Nursing: It’s Never Too Late

Going back to nursing school at 30 or 40 is a big change. But you are never too old to change careers. It’s time to pursue your life-long dream of becoming a nurse.

It's never too late for your nursing career.

Are you at a place in your life where you’re thinking about changing your career? You’re not alone. In fact, it’s likely that the average person will change careers multiple times throughout the course of their working life. When considering making a change, nursing could be the perfect next career path for you.

You may not have the answers to how to change careers to nursing, but with the Marian University Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, you could gain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in as few as 16 months and enter a lucrative, in-demand career field. Learn which skills you’ve already developed that can be applied to a new career in nursing, hear from adult learners who achieved their nursing degree from Marian University to enter into a second career, and determine what you’ll need to do in order to succeed in the Marian ABSN program.

How to Make a Second Career in Nursing Happen

If you’ve spent a significant amount of time in a certain career path, making a career change that requires going back to school at 30, 40 or beyond could feel intimidating. Don’t doubt yourself, though. Nursing can be an ideal second career path, and going back to school for nursing is an accessible path to enter this exciting and rewarding career field.

With Marian’s ABSN program, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is in your reach in as few as 16 months, meaning you’ll be able to access this new path sooner. No matter your prior occupation, from a teacher to a recruiter and everything in between, see what’s in store and some of the reasons why nursing just might be perfect for you. For more information, contact a Marian University admissions advisor and learn what you’ll need to do in order to apply, complete any potential prerequisites, and get you on the path to this new career field.

Meet Requirements and Earn Your Nursing Degree Quickly

The thought of pursuing a second career can feel intimidating. After all, your previous education and professional experience has allowed you to specialize your skills in your first career. Luckily, nursing allows you to learn and enter a new career path on an accelerated timeline. With the Marian University ABSN program, eligible non-nursing bachelor’s degree holders can earn their BSN degree and enter the workforce as a nurse in as few as 16 months.

Before you enter an accelerated nursing program, though, you’ll need to meet admission requirements. For the Marian University ABSN program, in order to be eligible, candidates must:

  • Hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum overall cumulative 2.8 GPA or a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credit hours completed. (Note: Students seeking contingent admission must have a cumulative 2.8 GPA in their prior degree.)
  • Complete all the ABSN prerequisite courses within the grade and GPA requirements.

If you haven’t completed the prerequisite courses, it doesn’t mean that your dreams have to be put on hold for years. All prerequisites can be completed through Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP), which provides:

  • Accredited online classes in an accelerated format.
  • Five-week course options offered nine times a year.
  • Eight-week course options offered six times a year.
  • Seamless credit transfers with our Leighton School of Nursing, and
  • Reserved seating opportunities for the ABSN program.

You’ll need to lay the groundwork in order to be accepted into an accelerated nursing program, but if you approach your application, prerequisites and (eventually) coursework with the dedication and discipline you’ve applied in your first career, you’re likely to succeed.

How to Transition into Nursing - 2 Marian University ABSN nursing students

Related Blog Post: See how you can make nursing into an ideal second career.

Am I Too Old to Become a Nurse?

Even if you have the disposition and drive to enter a new career in the nursing field, you might be asking yourself, “Am I too old to become a nurse?” The answer to this question is no. Nurses come from all walks of life and all age groups. In fact, according to a survey from the National League for Nursing, nearly 23 percent of students enrolled in BSN programs are over the age of 25. If changing careers to nursing at 30 or 40 or beyond is still intimidating to you, once you enter the workforce you’ll find that the average age of working registered nurses is 51 years old.

In fact, as someone coming into nursing as a second career, you’ll have the experience and empathy necessary to serve as a patient caretaker and advocate. You’ve developed a wide-ranging skillset in your previous career, so even though you’ll need to go back to school to gain the clinical knowledge necessary to become a nurse, the work experience you already have will also serve to be invaluable in your future career.

Marian University - ABSN students studying with books and laptops

How Previous Career Experiences Equip You to Thrive as a Nurse

No matter the industry of your previous career, you’ve almost certainly cultivated the experiences and skills you’ll need to be a successful nurse. While clinical knowledge is essential, any number of “soft” skills will see you through a career in nursing and allow you to reach new heights in your new career. So, even if you’re going back to nursing school as a 30-year-old, 40-year-old, or older, see how your previous professional expertise is bound to help you settle into this new career.

Excelling in People Skills

People skills are one of the first skillsets we develop, from the time we first enter school as children and throughout our careers. As someone who’s gathered experience and made connections in your first career, you understand that people skills are essential to getting ahead and advancing as an employee.

As a nurse, you’ll quickly learn that there’s more to the profession than administering care and carrying out nursing techniques. You’ll always be working as a team in a unit, and it’s your goal to make patients (as well as their loved ones) as comfortable as possible while under your care. Some of the people skills you’ve developed can be put to good use by:

  • Communicating effectively with doctors and fellow nurses.
  • Fostering and encouraging a team spirit as you take on each day.
  • Communicating clearly and effectively with patients and loved ones to:
    • Keep them in the know on their medical situation.
    • Properly prepare them for medical procedures.
    • Form a personal bond and make a frightening situation more approachable.

Performing Under Pressure

Since you’ve spent your career meeting deadlines and working well even in a pressure-filled environment, you won’t be surprised to learn that nursing will require that same commitment to handling stress and not cracking under the strain. The self-care techniques you’ve developed during your career are important, as you’ll be dealing with life and death situations during every shift; keeping a cool head while accomplishing what needs to be done is vital.

Nursing demands a lot from those who take it on as a career, and forming a support network among your fellow nurses, as well as friends and family, is important. With the right outlook, you can prevent burnout and be able to overcome the challenges and reap the rich rewards that come with helping others as a nurse.

Remaining Disciplined

Discipline in the way you take on your work, both in meeting deadlines and pushing through difficult situations, will help you excel as both a nurse and a nursing student. You’ve had years (or even decades) of practice in putting in the work a project needs to be successful, and nursing is no different in this regard.

To participate in our 16-month ABSN program, you’ll need to be prepared to work long, and sometimes hard, hours. However, if you push through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of your degree. Once you enter a clinical setting, you’ll have to stay organized and committed to achieve success in your new career.

Transitioning from Teacher to Nurse

It’s by no means uncommon for an adult who’s already built up a career to look to make a change. We rarely stay the same as we age, and our priorities shift along with our career goals. For many, nursing is a welcome career shift that involves directly caring and making an impact on individuals in need. Hear from Heather Hay, a Marian ABSN student who made the change to nursing after years in her career.

As a former teacher and mother of five, Heather had a different path toward the nursing profession than most. “About seven years ago I got cancer,” she shares. “When I was going through treatment, I had the most amazing nurse. She was truly an angel to me, and I would watch how she would take care of me and others. I was taken aback with her kindness and gentleness, and I truly feel that it was her and other nurses that saved my life.”

At first, Heather was hesitant about nursing school, saying, “since then I’d wanted to go back, but I was unsure if I had the abilities or the intelligence to. My background was in liberal arts and music and education. I was one of the students who didn’t have any higher-level science or math experience.”

However, for students with a previous non-nursing bachelor’s degree — like a degree in education — Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP) make prerequisites accessible and forms a solid foundation. “My personal nurse said, ‘Heather, just try it,’ so I started going back and taking my prerequisite courses.”

By meeting Marian’s ABSN program admission requirements, she was able to participate in MAP and enroll as an ABSN student. Going from teacher to nurse was certainly a transition, but Heather’s self-belief coupled with nursing and education’s mutual focus on proper study skills made it achievable for her to succeed.

Thinking back on her time as a teacher, Heather was also impressed by the quality of instruction offered through the Marian ABSN program.

“I have found that the professors have been above and beyond what I even thought,” she says. “Being a teacher myself, even I was blown away.”

Now that she’s reached her goal of a nursing career, Heather understands the difficulty and rewards that come with the profession. To others who might be considering transitioning from teacher to nurse, she says,” To become a nurse you have to have that in your heart. It has to be something that’s a calling. It’s not an easy job, but it’s such a rewarding job, and I’m getting shivers thinking about it. They see the passion there, that my heart is all about taking care of people.”

Transitioning from Recruiter to Nurse

Hannah McNabb achieved her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Health Services Administration and settled into a career as a nursing recruiter, but after several productive years in her field, she decided it was time to make a change. “I was a clinical recruiter for a long time and then I became the nursing recruiter,” she recalls. “I served as a nursing recruiter for about four years, so I got to go to different colleges and talk to [students] about being a nurse.”

With Hannah’s grandfather being an orthopedic surgeon, she fondly recalls spending time with him and being exposed to the duties and responsibilities of nursing at an early age.

“I’ve always really liked the nursing profession. My grandpa is an orthopedic surgeon so I would always do rounds with him when I was little. We have a medical family and so nursing has always been an option for me.”

After years of promoting nursing as a career, Hannah finally decided that it was the right choice for her. “I wanted to become a nurse so that I can take care of all types of people and show them the love they deserve,” she says.

The Marian University ABSN program stood apart to Hannah, with its flexible online coursework and a curriculum based on holistic care that aligned with the Franciscan values of dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation and responsible stewardship. “I’m Catholic, so that really means something to me,” she says.

From her position as a nursing recruiter, Hannah graduated from our 16-month ABSN program and is now happy in her career as a practicing nurse. Her advice to future students changing their careers? “If you really want to be a successful nurse, pass your boards and be successful in the classes, you have to be committed.”

How to Succeed When Going Back to School

If you meet our admissions requirements and are ready to make the plunge into an accelerated nursing program, you’ll want to do everything possible to ensure you’re successful as a Marian University ABSN student. If all goes well, you’ll be ready to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in as few as 16 months.

However, going back to school after a lengthy period of time in the professional world can be challenging and will require some adjustment. The Marian University ABSN program relies on a hybrid model, blending online coursework with in-person learning at skills and simulation labs as well as clinical rotations. Each of these are different, and will require different strategies to succeed, but there are some common tips that can help you transition back into student life and earn your BSN degree.

Practice Good Study Skills with Your Cohort

You’ll be covering new ground every week as an ABSN student, and the deadlines come just as fast as the material you’ll be going over. Try to follow a set study schedule when reviewing concepts from labs and completing assignments to stay on track, and don’t be afraid to reach out to other members of your cohort. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, but you’ll all be going through this common experience together and each cohort member is there to see everyone else succeed as well. With a routine and support from your fellow students, you’ll be better equipped to meet deadlines and succeed in this vital aspect of your nursing education.

three nursing students studying

Make Time Management Work for You

As an ABSN student, you’re likely very busy juggling family or other life responsibilities with coursework and studying. Luckily, our dynamic e-Learning management system allows for you to work on your time. So long as you meet assignment deadlines, you’re free to complete online coursework when and where works best for you. Quizzes, tests, labs and clinical rotations all require in-person attendance and are much less flexible, so make sure that your online coursework is shaped around your responsibilities and give yourself more time to get things done.

Never be Afraid to Ask Questions

As you build on your online coursework, in-person skills and simulation labs as well as clinical rotations will allow you the opportunity to apply nursing skills and techniques. You’ll start in mock clinical settings but move onto working with real patients under expert instructor supervision and guidance. Pay attention while observing new techniques, and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Our instructors are here to ensure that you have the knowledge you need; you can’t succeed if you don’t have a thorough understanding of the techniques you’ll be applying each day as an RN.

Make the Next Step

Now that we’ve explored how nursing school is an attainable goal and described the ways in which your previous career experiences can still prepare you to be successful as a nurse, we hope you’ve seen how going back to school for nursing can fit into your life and prove to be an exciting next step in your professional and personal life.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and a willingness to learn, you have the skills and experience you’ll need to succeed as a nurse. Reach out to a Marian ABSN admissions advisor today and start a conversation that can change your career as well as your life.

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