5 Benefits of Pursuing Nursing as a Second Degree

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Nursing as a second degree can be an excellent choice for those seeking a new career. From extensive career opportunities to time spent with patients to an accelerated pathway to earning your BSN, pursuing a BSN as a second degree offers many benefits.

nurses looking at laptop screen

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, accelerated nursing programs like Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program allow students to graduate in as few as 16 months 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 accelerated second-degree nursing program in Indianapolis and Nashville is for individuals with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who meet our other admissions requirements. We also offer a separate admissions path for transfer students in Indianapolis who have completed a required number of non-nursing college credits.

So, whether you have previously earned a bachelor’s degree or meet the requirements to enroll in our transfer BSN admissions path, you can leverage your education to earn a degree from our ABSN program.

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

Marian University nursing student

Many second-degree BSN programs, including Marian’s second-degree admissions path, 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 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 patient care areas. Indianapolis students complete clinicals at Ascension St. Vincent, and Nashville students complete theirs at Ascension Saint Thomas.

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

As a student pursuing a new career, you have many unique life experiences that have informed how you view the world. Whether you previously held a different role in healthcare or had a completely unrelated career, your perspective can help you 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 with limited experience, you can play to your strengths and shape 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 comprise other career changers bringing their 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 they would be wasting the time and money they spent on their previous education. However, choosing Marian’s second-degree ABSN program or transfer path means choosing one that builds upon your previous education. Rather than pursuing another four-year bachelor’s degree, our ABSN program ensures that you put your first degree or prior non-nursing college credits 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 than traditional programs. Our program is now accessible to transfer students who have earned a required number of non-nursing college credits and want to enter our transfer path more financially accessible than four-year degree options. Because you can graduate from our program sooner, you can more likely secure a nursing job with a great salary sooner.

student listening to heartbeat

Additionally, our online coursework portion of the program allows flexibility in our students’ schedules. While you are still expected to meet deadlines, 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 can engage with a more focused curriculum. For the entirety of your time in our ABSN program, you will focus on nursing coursework, labs, and clinical rotations.

It is important to note that while you will focus on your nursing coursework while in the program, you must first complete a series of prerequisite courses required for admission (transfer path students automatically complete these prerequisites). 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 you have a solid educational foundation to complete your rigorous nursing coursework successfully.

Why Second-Degree Nurses Make Great Hires

In addition to the knowledge and clinical experience gained during an accelerated nursing degree, certain character traits and skills inform a nurse’s success in the workplace. Students who earn a BSN as a second degree have an impact in many ways. Here are a few ways you can influence your workplace as a nurse:

  • Running on purposeful motivation: Driven by purpose, second-degree nurses tend to focus on the end goal and typically make great students and hires. Not only will these nurses know what they must do to be effective and how to do it, but they also understand exactly why they show up for work every day.
  • Working for the crowd: Nurses entering the profession after working in other industries often bring the experience and tact to communicate effectively with those in different healthcare areas. As a new hire, a second-degree nurse who can work the crowd and fill the role of an ambassador as needed is an asset. Most importantly, experience communicating with different types of people is certainly a bonus when it comes to patient care and service.
  • Making a change: Whether it’s the current political landscape of health care or the unknowns in the daily drama of a hospital, the environments in which nurses work require people who can manage change and adjust. Second-degree nurses are likely fearless when it comes to change. After all, they decided to alter their career trajectory at one point, earn a second bachelor’s degree and enter a new profession. A nurse with prior work experience and a second degree in nursing is a prime candidate for the change manager and future leader role.

These are just a few skills second-degree nurses have that they may not even realize are valuable tools for the healthcare scene. If you are thinking about earning a second degree in nursing in our accelerated nursing program in Nashville or our location in Indianapolis, it’s normal to question if you have what it takes, but realize that your motivation, prior experience and attitude are a large part of what can make you an exceptional and desirable nurse.

girl in front of Marian building

Second-Degree Nursing Student Perspectives

Now that we’ve covered some of the top benefits of choosing nursing as a second degree, you may wonder what it’s 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.

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 tricky to manage school and work, she stays organized and manages her time wisely. “You just have to know what works best for you and ensure 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 enjoyed it. I also liked the 16-month duration of the program and the fact that the class sizes are smaller than others.

Jordan, ABSN Graduate, Previous Degree: Health Science

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 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 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 feared messing up. But my instructor was supportive and boosted my confidence significantly.”

If you want to know more about clinicals, see what you should expect in your nursing school clinical rotations.

Everything you need to know about Nursing School Clinicals - nurse helping patient in hospital bed

Take note that 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.

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 or Nashville, contact our admissions team today. They’ll reach out to begin the conversation and help you take the next step in your future career.