Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Is Nursing School Worth It?

Is nursing school worth it

Thinking about making a career switch to nursing? The 16-month ABSN program for second-degree students at Northeastern University might be able to accelerate your entry into the profession. But don’t start filling out your application just yet. Stop and consider: Why do I want to become a nurse? Is nursing school worth it for me? Can I succeed in an accelerated nursing program? What are my future career goals?

It’s important to contemplate these kinds of questions because going back to school for nursing is a major life decision that requires significant self-reflection. Not sure where to start? This post will help guide your train of thought. You’ll also learn what it takes to be successful in our ABSN program and come to understand the value of a Northeastern nursing education.

Quick Summary:

Nursing school is worth it if nursing as a career is a good fit for you. Knowing what to expect, how your life will change, and what resources are available to you will help you get the most out of your experience. If you’re thinking about switching your career to nursing, it’s important to attend a university with a reputation for graduating confident, practice-ready nurses. Our ABSN program is a top choice for second-degree students and a Northeastern BSN sets a strong foundation for your future career.

Consider if Nursing Is a Good Fit for You

Generally speaking, whatever it is you want to do in life is worth at least attempting. When it comes to becoming a nurse, however, you need to make sure you’re going into the profession for all of the right reasons.

Think about why you want to become a nurse. Is it because you want to help people? Is it for the salary and benefits? Your initial reasons for wanting to become a nurse will impact your future career happiness one way or another. While nursing is a rewarding career both personally and financially, it’s not the type of occupation you want to enter into lightly.

Let’s say, for example, you have a sincere passion for taking care of others but have difficulty communicating bad news. Then nursing might not be the best occupation for you, especially since there are other jobs out there that involve helping people.

And like any career, nursing has its pros and cons—through the ups and downs can be a bit more intense than those of other occupations. Under the most extreme circumstances, a nurse could be saving a life one day and watching a family suffer the loss of a loved one the next.

Do you have what it takes to be a nurse
You’ve probably thought: Do I have what it takes to be a nurse? We have an entire blog dedicated to helping you figure that out.

Therefore, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of nursing. Read as much as you can about the profession and talk to as many nurses as you can. If you’ve done your homework, given it serious thought, and decided that you can take the good with the bad, the next step is to consider whether you’re ready for the rigors of nursing school.

Know What to Expect

No matter where you attend, nursing school is hard. It’s probably one of the most challenging education paths you can take, especially if you’re completing the curriculum at an accelerated pace.

By building on your non-nursing bachelor’s degree, our ABSN program makes it possible to earn a BSN in 16 months—but it requires a serious commitment on your part. Thereby, being a successful accelerated nursing student requires more than just understanding the curriculum. You need the right level of motivation and self-discipline to see you through school.

You need to be at a point in your life where you have enough time, money, and energy to devote to your education. Can you afford the tuition and program fees? Are you willing to finance your education? Does your daily schedule allow for serious study time? What are your family obligations? Do you have a support system?

Speaking of family, it’s amazing how many moms graduate from our ABSN program. Take Patti, a 2018 ABSN program graduate, for example. Despite having younger children at home, she was able to navigate the rigors of nursing school thanks to the support of her husband.

Even though her husband traveled a lot for work, Patti said that when he was home, they would sit down and make a calendar. She would try to get most of her work done while he was home and able to take care of the kids. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.”

Can you relate? Read more on Patti’s story and her advice for going back to school as a mom.

But if you truly have too much going on in your life right now, it might be best to put nursing school on hold until the dust settles. It’s not worth running the risk of being an unsuccessful student. But if you’re in a place where you know you have the tools and support to succeed, the next item to consider is your ABSN program eligibility.

Understand the Admissions Process

Whether it comes to our ABSN program in Burlington, Massachusetts, or Charlotte, North Carolina, we strive to make the admissions process as seamless and straightforward as possible.  As a prospective Northeastern ABSN student, you have the benefit of working closely with an assigned admissions counselor who will champion your entry into nursing school every step of the way.

To begin the ABSN admissions process, you must have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Before you can apply to the program, however, you must satisfy eight ABSN prerequisite course requirements.

Many prospective students have the misconception that they can complete the prerequisites while in the ABSN program, but that’s not the case. We allow you to apply to the program with your final two prerequisites in progress, but you must successfully complete these courses two weeks before the start of your term.

Once you’ve met the admissions requirements, you can submit your application online, targeting a program start date in January, May, or September. Because we review applications on a rolling basis, you’ll receive an admissions decision from us within a few weeks of applying.

Sarah, 2018 ABSN Program Graduate, Charlotte

“My admissions process was the easiest. I applied to three nursing schools, and Northeastern was the one that I felt the surest about when I turned in my application.”

―Sarah, 2018 ABSN Program Graduate, Charlotte

Keep Pace or Fall Behind  

It’s important to understand that our ABSN program is a serious commitment and compares to holding down a full-time job.

As an accelerated nursing student, you’ll most likely have to put certain aspects of your life on hold.

For example, you might have to skip Sunday night dinners with family or pass on weeknight outings with friends. Just keep reminding yourself it’s only a 16-month program.

To keep pace in our ABSN program, you need to manage your time wisely as well as maintain a consistent daily study routine. You could very well spend 40 or more hours on your education each week. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

How Our ABSN Program Works

Our ABSN curriculum follows a full-time learning format that blends online coursework with hands-on nursing labs and in-person clinical rotations. Together, these three components give you the academic foundation and clinical preparedness required to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) with confidence and enter the profession as a practice-ready nurse.

Map of the Northeastern ABSN journey from start to finish

Online Coursework

Online coursework serves as the foundation of your nursing education, focusing on the fundamentals and theories of the profession. While instructor deadlines still apply, you’re able to study at your own pace and attend “class” whenever it best fits into your daily schedule. Just remember that consistency and good self-discipline are key to your online learning success.

Nursing Skills Labs

Weekly nursing skills labs at our program site focus on your ability to safely and effectively put the core concepts you learned online into practice. Our lab features modern hospital equipment and clinical task trainers so you can practice your skills in a contextual setting without the fear of harming an actual patient. Concepts covered during labs include catheterization, nasogastric tube insertions, intermuscular injections, and wound care.

Nursing Simulation Labs

Regular nursing simulation labs at our facility begin with the basics of nursing practice, such as patient safety, physical assessment, and interprofessional communication. Subsequent simulations are more complex, involving multifaceted patient care scenarios.

You’ll find that our simulation labs utilize some of the most sophisticated, high-tech patient simulators available. These full-body medical manikins can bleed, reproduce biological sounds, respond to drug interactions, and deliver vocal responses. For some nursing simulations, however, we use standardized patients (real people). Because as lifelike as our simulators are, they can’t deliver the same level of social interaction as humans.

Dive deeper into the simulation lab process and read all about how nursing simulation lab scenarios mirror the diverse realities of patient care.

According to Jamie Musler, director of interprofessional medical simulation at Northeastern, simulation is key to the university’s experiential education model. “We spend a lot of time thinking about our students and how they can best turn classroom knowledge into a clinical skill.”

Overall, simulation exercises require you to integrate theory, practice, and reasoning in real-time; challenge you to problem-solve, collaborate, and think critically; and prepare you for clinical rotations in diverse healthcare settings.

Clinical Experiences

Experiential learning is at the heart of our educational philosophy. Our nursing students have access to relevant, real-world clinical experiences that go a long way with today’s healthcare employers.

As an ABSN student, you’ll complete six clinical rotations in diverse areas of nursing practice, from pediatrics to adult care to public health. Your first clinical, which focuses on women and families, occurs within the first three weeks of you being in the program.

Overall, you’ll gain more than 430 hours of practical experience while in the program, which includes performing health assessments, developing care plans, and taking vitals. Our clinical partners include a wide range of healthcare organizations, from large to small, urban to rural. No matter where you do your clinicals, each rotation offers valuable insight into what it means to be an RN in today’s multifaceted healthcare environment.

In your final semester of the program, you’ll work alongside a preceptor in a specific area of nursing practice. As you refine your skills and build rapport with patients, you’ll take an active, if not primary, role in their care.

In Short

ABSN students learn the fundamentals and theories of nursing practice (online coursework), convert that knowledge into psychomotor skills (nursing skills labs), and then tie everything together within the scope of diverse clinical practice (nursing simulation labs and clinical rotations).

Why the Northeastern School of Nursing Is Worth the Money

Given the different nursing program options available today, you’re probably wondering: Does it matter where I earn my BSN degree? Yes, it does―especially if you want to accelerate into the profession.

But that doesn’t mean you have to attend an Ivy League school. You want to make sure the nursing program you’re applying to has the proper accreditations and state approvals. It’s also important that the school has consistently high NCLEX pass rates. You’ll find that our ABSN program meets these criteria and more!

While a Northeastern nursing education is a significant investment, it provides a significant return. By choosing our 16-month ABSN program in Burlington or Charlotte:

  • You don’t have to wait to get started. Because we have three program start dates a year at both of our ABSN locations, you can begin your nursing education as soon as you’re ready.
  • You get the VIP treatment while applying. Every prospective student works with a dedicated admissions counselor whose job is to provide that student with personalized support and guidance throughout the enrollment process.
  • You receive personalized support during the program. Your nursing school success is extremely important to us. We have academic advisors, licensure readiness coaches, and other support staff readily available to assist you in every way possible.
  • You learn from some of the nation’s best and brightest nurse educators. These individuals are not only great teachers and mentors, but also innovators and entrepreneurs who are helping to shape advancements in healthcare.
  • You gain relevant, real-world clinical experience in diverse areas of practice. And you don’t have to worry about arranging your clinical placements because we do it for you.
  • You receive substantial NCLEX preparation. Not only do we start preparing you for the exam on the first day of class, but also provide extensive test preparation during the final weeks of the program.
  • You will study at one of the top 40 universities in the country (U.S. News & World Report, 2020) and one of the top 20 best colleges for nursing in America (Niche.com, 2020).

Why a Northeastern BSN Is a Wise Investment

By graduating from our ABSN program, you’ll have a respected nursing degree that carries a lot of weight with healthcare employers across the country. More specifically, you’ll enter the workforce prepared to:

  • Apply leadership skills in the provision of patient-centered care.
  • Demonstrate clinical judgment within the best evidence-based practice.
  • Deliver quality, compassionate care to diverse patient populations.
  • Work collaboratively with individuals, families, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Utilize modern technology and information systems to monitor patient care.

Generally speaking, a BSN degree opens the doors to diverse employment opportunities. It also paves the way for you to pursue a more advanced degree in the future. Not to mention, more and more healthcare employers are catching on to the fact that the more BSN-prepared nurses they employ, the better the patient outcomes.

In August 2018, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) surveyed nursing schools about employer preferences in relation to student education levels. Of the 627 schools that responded, here is what the AACN found:

  • 6% of healthcare employers require their newbie nurses to have a BSN.
  • 4% of healthcare employers have a strong preference for BSN program graduates.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career

There are several great benefits that come with being a nurse. But no matter how good the salary or stable the profession, the key to nursing career happiness is going into the profession with a sincere passion for helping others. We asked several of our ABSN program graduates what drew them to the nursing profession, and here’s what they told us.

Erin, 2019 ABSN Program Graduate, Burlington

Erin always had a passion for helping others. Before nursing school, she worked in nonprofit and medical research. While she was helping others, it wasn’t at the level she had hoped. “I just wanted a more hands-on approach with the populations I was trying to serve.”

Rachel, 2019 ABSN Program Graduate, Charlotte

When you’re born into a family of healthcare professionals, it’s as if caring for others is just part of your DNA. “My dad is a physician, and my mom, grandma, and aunts are all nurses. I love the caring aspect of nursing, especially when it comes to making patients smile.”

Taylor, 2018 ABSN Program Graduate, Charlotte

While working on her first undergraduate degree in biology, Taylor was part of a group who took a mission trip to Belize to assist healthcare professionals working in rural clinics. “I really loved the interaction the nurses had with patients, and that’s what led me to nursing school.”

Ken, 2016 ABSN Program Graduate, Burlington

Ken was earning a degree in interior architecture and design when a typhoon struck the Philippines. He dropped what he was doing and went overseas to assist with disaster relief. “I went there to help farm, but I found myself wanting to help with medical relief. That’s what inspired me to become a nurse.”

Megan, 2017 ABSN Program Graduate, Burlington

“After raising my children and volunteering for hospice, the thought of returning to a job in finance no longer appealed to me. I didn’t want to have to sit behind a desk and work with numbers. I wanted to feel more fulfilled in my career, so I decided to go back to school for nursing.”

Infographic detailing program and industry statistics

Your Future in Nursing

Once you graduate from nursing school and have your registered nurse license, the sky’s the limit. Here’s a glimpse of what a future in nursing holds:

Diverse Opportunities

Nursing is one of the most diverse occupations available today. Nurses aren’t limited to working in hospitals as a lot of people think. You’ll find nurses hard at work anywhere there’s a need for patient care, from private practices to corporate clinics to schools. Some even care for patients around the country—even the world—as a travel nurse. Additionally, nurses can also specialize in specific areas of practice, from critical care to community health.

Professional Growth

When you have a BSN, you can go on to earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with specialty certification. Doing so gives you access to some of the highest-paying jobs in the profession, which include nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwife. Overall, nurses have ample opportunity to branch out and grow their skill sets, leading to positions where they can contribute to patient care beyond the bedside (e.g., healthcare administration).

Employment Projections

Currently, registered nurses are in high demand all over the country, and the need is predicted to become even greater in the future. So it’s probably safe to say that a nursing career comes with strong job security. It’s also worth mentioning that in May 2018, the Boston metro area ranked #6 in the country for having the highest employment levels for registered nursing.

LocationEmployment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Openings*

United States

 

 

3,059,800 (2018)

3,431,300 (2028)

 

+12%210,400
 

Massachusetts

 

 

82,950 (2016)

93,590 (2026)

 

+13%5,510
 

North Carolina

 

 

100,830 (2016)

116,650 (2026)

 

+16% 7,060

Source: CareerOneStop.org
*Refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

Earning Potential

While several variables influence how much a registered nurse earns annually, the profession as a whole affords a decent living. As of May 2018, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics lists $71,730 as the annual median salary for registered nurses in the United States.

Annual wages for registered nurses in Massachusetts range anywhere from $58,620 to $139,220. Nurses working in the Boston metro area tend to make the most money within the state. Registered nurses in North Carolina range between $46,130 and $86,650, with those working in the Fayetteville metro earning the most in the state.

Trusted Profession

For 18 years running, Americans have rated nursing the #1 profession for honesty and ethics in the annual Gallup poll. In 2020, 85% of U.S. adults said they viewed nurses as having “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards. According to Gallup, nurses consistently rate higher in this category than all other professions by a wide margin.

The Verdict: Is Nursing School Worth It?    

By this point, you should have a pretty good idea if nursing school is worth it for you. If you’re leaning in the ‘yes’ direction, you’ll find that investing in a Northeastern nursing education can do wonders for your future. Contact our admissions team and ask about our upcoming ABSN program start dates in Burlington, Massachusetts, or Charlotte, North Carolina.

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