An interesting study has come out of the University of Buffalo about how second career nurses are changing the face of nursing — for the better. The study indicated that second career nurses, those who had a previous degree in another major before pursuing a degree in nursing, are usually older, more motivated, and more satisfied with their work than new nurses for whom nursing was their first career. Second career nurses, because they have more life experience, have better coping mechanisms and are better prepared to deal with workplace stress and conflict. They provide a great pool to draw from to address the current nursing shortage. And while the study points out that they may have shorter work lives because they are starting later, I have noticed that they may be staying longer in the traditional clinical setting than many first career nurses. A new second career nurse who I recently interviewed told me that she could never have done nursing when she was just out of high school but felt much more prepared for the challenges and responsibilities now — 12 years later. Read the release here
Second career nurses are entering the profession with such diverse work experience and educational backgrounds — many with advanced degrees. That, combined with their maturity and accompanying confidence and assertiveness, will only serve to strengthen the profession and help to move us forward. And the fact that many of these second career nurses are men, will further diversify and thus strengthen the profession as well.