5 Benefits of Pursuing Nursing as a Second Degree

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There are many benefits to make a career change to nursing. With Marian, choosing nursing as a second degree means that you can leverage previous education to graduate on an accelerated timeline and focus solely on your nursing courses while in the ABSN program.

Marian University ABSN students sitting at desks studying

Deciding to change your career can be daunting, but choosing nursing as a second degree can be a great path to follow. While you will need to return to school to pursue a nursing career, second-degree nursing programs like Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program allow students to graduate on an accelerated timeline to get them back into the workforce sooner.

Because nursing is one of the fastest-growing, in-demand professions available today, many career changers apply to our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Our second-degree ABSN program is for individuals who have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and meet our other admissions requirements. So, whether you have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, you can leverage your education to earn a degree from our Leighton School of Nursing in as few as 16 months.

As an ABSN student, you’ll complete a rigorous blend of online coursework, hands-on nursing labs, and in-person clinical rotations. While the program requires an intense, full-time learning format, you’ll receive highly personalized attention from our faculty and staff every step of the way.

Let’s take a closer look at five of the many benefits of pursuing nursing as a second degree:

1. Accelerated Curriculum

Many second-degree nursing programs, Marian’s ABSN program included, allow students to graduate on an accelerated timeline. Our students, for example, can graduate in as few as 16 months. This accelerated curriculum is designed to be completed over the course of four 16-week semesters and includes:

  • Online courses allow you to learn the fundamentals and theories of the profession at your own pace and when it best fits into your daily schedule. Assignment deadlines still apply.
  • Nursing skills and simulation labs provide a realistic, risk-free platform to develop your hands-on skills and clinical judgment under faculty guidance. You’ll attend labs at your ABSN site at least twice a week.
  • Clinical rotations for hundreds of hours of experience in diverse areas of patient care. Indianapolis students complete clinicals at St. Vincent, Nashville students complete theirs at Saint Thomas Health, and Oklahoma City students will work with a number of top healthcare facilities in the metro area.
three Marian ABSN students in sim lab

2. As a Career-Changer, You Bring a Unique Perspective and Increased Maturity

As a second-degree student pursuing a new career, you have a plethora of unique life experiences that have informed how you view the world. Whether you previously held a different role in the healthcare field or had a completely unrelated career, your personal perspective can help you to relate to your patients in ways that those who have always been in the nursing field may not. Even though it may feel intimidating to begin a new career in a field where you have limited experience, you can play to your strengths and tailor your career in a way that best suits you. Plus, once you are a Marian University graduate, you will be more than prepared to become a nurse.

Additionally, being a career-changer means you likely have more experience and a learned sense of discipline from your previous field. These attributes will serve you well as you complete a rigorous ABSN curriculum and eventually treat patients in high-stress situations.

Also, enrolling in Marian’s ABSN program means that your cohort will likely be comprised of other career changers bringing their own perspectives and experiences. This diversity within our cohorts enhances our students’ learning and produces well-rounded nurses.

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3. Leverage Your Previous Education

Changing your career is a big move, and many people may be hesitant because they feel as though they would be wasting the time and money they spent on their previous education. However, choosing Marian’s second-degree ABSN program means choosing a program that builds off your previous education. Rather than pursuing another four-year bachelor’s degree, our ABSN program ensures that you are putting your first degree to work, allowing you to graduate in as few as 16 months.

4. Increased Accessibility

Another benefit to accelerated, second-degree nursing programs is that they are more accessible to prospective students in more ways than one. First, our program is more financially accessible than other four-year degree options. Because you can graduate from our program sooner, you’ll be able to secure a nursing job with a great salary sooner.

Additionally, our online coursework portion of the program allows flexibility in our students’ schedules. While you are still expected to meet deadlines and spend time on your coursework, you can do it in a way that fits your life.

5. Emphasized Focus on Nursing Courses

Because our ABSN program is designed to build on your previous education, you won’t have to worry about taking any additional courses that were likely required for your first degree. For the entirety of your time in our ABSN program, you will be focused on nursing coursework, labs, and clinical rotations.

It is important to note that while you will be spending your time focusing on your nursing coursework while in the program, you must make sure you take the prerequisite courses required for admission. Comprising science and general education courses, you can complete these prerequisites online and at an accelerated pace via Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP). These five- and 8-week courses will ensure that you have a strong educational foundation to successfully complete your rigorous nursing coursework.

Second-Degree Nursing Student Perspectives

Now that we’ve covered some of the top benefits of choosing nursing as a second degree, you’re probably wondering what it’s actually like to be a second-degree nursing student. We’ve asked previous students of our ABSN program to share their experiences to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Jordan, one of Marian's ABSN students, is working toward her second degree in nursing

Jordan Unversaw, ABSN Class of August 2019

Previous Degree: Health Science

Why Nursing as a Second Degree?

Previously working as a behavioral therapist, Jordan decided to earn her second degree in nursing because it’s a career that would allow her to give back to the community on a much larger scale. “I also like how you can grow as a nurse in multiple ways.”

While she admits it gets tough trying to manage school and work, she stays organized and manages her time wisely. “You just have to know what works best for you and make sure that school is your priority! My work managers are awesome and super flexible with my school schedule. I just let them know two weeks in advance if I have an exam or any conflicts in my schedule.”

Jordan said she chose our ABSN program in Indianapolis for several reasons.

My sister went through the program and really enjoyed it. I also liked the 16-month duration of the program and the fact that the class sizes are smaller than others.

- Jordan Unversaw, 2019 ABSN Graduate

While she appreciates the accelerated pace of the program, she explained it’s challenging to learn a tremendous amount of material in a compressed time frame. “If you make time to study every day, you can succeed. It’s also important to utilize the resources that Marian University offers. Everyone here wants to see you succeed!”

Jordan’s Experience

To help her stay motivated, Jordan likes to study with her classmates. “Everyone is going through the same thing, so study groups are a great way for us to motivate and support one another.” She also believes that taking time to practice self-care is crucial to preventing burnout. “Yes, studying is important, but so is your health.”

Overall, Jordan says her experience in the program has been excellent. “I have really enjoyed all of my clinicals.” She did mention, however, that applying any skill for the first time during clinicals made her nervous. “The first time I had to give a shot, I was afraid of messing up. But my instructor was really supportive and boosted my confidence significantly.”

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Take Note: While some students choose to work part-time during their 16 months in the ABSN program, the Leighton School of Nursing advises ABSN students to focus solely on their education, given the time and commitment required to complete the accelerated nursing program successfully.

Marian ABSN student, Allysia, is seeking nursing as a second degree

Allysia Campbell, ABSN Class of August 2019

Previous Degree: Exercise Science

Why Nursing as a Second Degree?

Currently working as an emergency medical technician (EMT) at a children’s hospital, Allysia decided to go back to school for nursing after witnessing the close interaction nurses have with their patients.

“I love the nurses that I work with and strive to be like them,” she said. “After all, nurses are at the front line of patient care. They are the ones who make the most out of a patient’s hospital experience.”

Having already been to college once, Allysia said she liked the accelerated format of our 16-month, second-degree ABSN program.

Allysia’s Experience

She says the first semester of the program requires making significant adjustments to your schedule, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. Allysia managed to stay organized and on top of everything by using a planner to plot out every week in advance.

She also explains that time management is key to being successful in an accelerated nursing program. “There are students in my cohort who have kids, jobs, and family obligations,” she says.

It’s a doable program if you’re committed to your education.

Allysia Campbell, 2019 ABSN Graduate

Allysia’s words of advice to prospective students? “You really have nothing to lose. This program is 16 months—just go for it.”

Ready to Pursue Nursing as a Second-Degree Student?

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and are interested in learning more about our ABSN program in Indianapolis, Nashville, or Oklahoma City, contact our admissions team today! They’ll help you take the next step in your future career.