2nd Career Nurses – yeah!

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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.

5 thoughts on “2nd Career Nurses – yeah!”

  1. Posted on behalf of Colleen:

    I entered nursing as a second career mainly for job stability, but because I had often wondered about working as a nurse.

    I had a few life experiences, namely having a child, and other experiences dealing with medical professionals that prompted me to look at nursing as a career. It also helped that my husband was very supportive and had multiple family members who were nurses, doctors or other medical professionals who were very willing and able to answer my questions.

    Despite two bachelors degrees and an associates degree, and fifteen years of work experience, I did not think I could handle being a nurse. I told myself if I survived the prereqs, I’d apply to an accelerated program. I did, I got in, survived and passed my NCLEX in 2007 and here I am.

    Nursing is hard work, but I find it rewarding because I can use my skills from sales, marketing, information technology and education just about every day as a rehab nurse. I help not only my patients, but my coworkers as well. My long trip into nursing was not in vain, because the skills I acquired before I became a nurse have helped me in many ways.

  2. I am in the Limbo between having decided to definitely pursue a career in nursing and where to go to school- AGAIN, as my family says. I thought after getting a Bachelor’s in Spanish and then spending two years in a ministerial training school I was finished… But then two little letters whispered my name… RN!
    Ever since I decided to become a nurse i have a peace that says,” Yes, this is it!” I am going to start this summer getting some prereqs out of the way, and then, I am hopeful, will plunge headfirst into an accelerated BSN program. I know it will be intense and require focus and determination, but I am sure that these last several years in retail management have well prepared me for the daily grind of a couple more years of school.
    I have always worked closely with people, and my heart desire to be a part of people’s lives changing for the better is a strong motivator to push forward in my pursuit of nursing. I know that being in the work force for five years after college and starting my nursing program now is much more sensible then it would have been straight out of high school. Instead of just looking for another “job”, I am seeking a career to grow in. I am looking forward to the day when I can say that I am an RN and that I made one of the best decisions of my life!

  3. I am a second/third career nursing student. I actually started my journey in the working realm as a cosmetologist. Then, went into medical billing. I elevated my medical billing practices into a corporate position with Apria Healthcare as one of a nine member team that traveled the US auditing potential companies for purchase, basing the assessment on compliance to Governmental regulations associated with medical billing and documentation. The traveling took me away from my family too often, so I resigned and went back to college. I didn’t really desire to go back to college, but due to the recent economical situation…I was resolved to return. I could not find any career choice that met the financial, spiritual and social needs that I craved initially. I am so thrilled that my college started offering the RN-ADN program, it is exactly what I have needed in my life. The thrill of caring for others and making their world a better place fulfills my need to make a difference in life. I think nursing for an option after other careers is an excellent way of bringing experience and depth into the realm of caring for others. By the time you reach your late 30’s, early 40’s…you should have discovered that life is NOT about you! It is about what you can give to life that makes the world a better place. So, I am very supportive of older people entering the nursing field…I would like to have a nurse that knows how to care about my needs than one who just reads it in a textbook and struggles to realize that my needs might be different than their own. It is harder to juggle family and studies…but in the end, it can be done! (age teaches you to prioritize life with grace)

  4. My mom was a nurse for 27 years and then changed career paths into nursing education. I was in substance abuse prevention for seven years before I resigned to be home with my two toddlers. Honestly, I want job security for my family. I was raised around nursing but was told to stay away because of the long hours, body fatigue, etc. I am one of those people who never knew what they “wanted to be when they grew up,” I have a passion for public health, and I know I can give back through nursing but still feel personal growth by applying all my job experience and higher education (BA and MBA) to the field. Sounds like a win-win to me!

  5. I have been a nurse for 17 years. I became an RN at 21. I earned my Masters in Nursing at 35. I have been blessed to have had 4 careers in 1 so far. Oncology, Geriatrics, Forensic Mental Health, Civil Behavioral Health.
    I have been managing staff members in many capacities and facilities (including a Maximum Security Men’s prison), and I think I am “done managing” for a while.
    I have never done Labor and Delivery nursing, and I always wanted to practice this type of nursing. When I graduated from nursing school, there were no openings in this specialty. I have always been interested in taking care of women and newborns. I guess God knew that I needed to have my own babies for experience! I waited many years to have my children and I am finding that my role as a Nurse Manager is negatively impacting my family. I am getting excited about my decision to go into L&D nursing. I will use your advice looking for websites, etc.

    Although it will be a “step back” financially, I believe that the satisfaction and work life balance will be worth more than money can buy. I have grown tired of the paperwork and seemingly endless drains on my time (24/7 responsibility for staffing, etc….I also feel it is much more thankless than clinical nursing ever was. I always felt a sense of deep satisfaction in knowing that I really helped someone. I now spend too much time juggling papers and doing audits (which I HATE). I know that the Computer Documentation can be quite time consuming, so I hope I can learn to manage my time while honing my clinical skills! I feel like a New Grad..:).

    Any advice would be more than welcome. So glad I found your blog!

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