Military to BSN: 6 Steps to Become a Nurse After the Military

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Transitioning from military to BSN is an excellent idea because veterans hold many of the skills that make great nurses. The steps to go from military to nursing include researching programs, applying to nursing school, earning a BSN, passing the NCLEX, getting licensed, and starting your first nursing job.

stethoscope on top of flag

After serving in the military, finding your next career can be a challenge. You’re likely looking for a job with a purpose that applies many of the same skills you learned in the military. As you consider the possibilities for a civilian career, one great option is nursing.

One of the advantages of going from military to BSN is that you can earn your degree and start your career quickly, thanks to accelerated programs like the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Northeastern University. Nursing is an excellent post-military career because the transition to healthcare can potentially harness your strengths from your military experience.

Here are six steps to transition from military to BSN and start a rewarding new nursing career.

1. Do Your Research

The first step from military to BSN is informing yourself about nursing schools. As you may already know, the options for nursing school are many. Knowing what to look for in a program will help you decide which path is right for you.

The first consideration is what type of degree you should earn. Generally speaking, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is preferred over an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Having better-educated nurses has been shown to improve patient outcomes, so healthcare organizations strongly prefer hiring BSN-educated nurses. Additionally, a BSN sets you up for career growth, leadership positions, and advanced nursing roles in the future.

northeastern nursing student practicing on manikin with sethoscope

Once you’ve decided which degree to pursue, it’s time to narrow down what you should look for in a BSN program. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Accelerated vs. traditional program: Choose an accelerated program like the ABSN at Northeastern if you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 62 non-nursing college credits for the program in Charlotte.
  • Hybrid vs. on-ground ABSN program: Choose a hybrid program if you prefer a mix of online and in-person learning. If you prefer in-person lectures, opt for an on-ground program.
  • Relocation: Relocating for nursing school can be an excellent way to broaden your program options, save time, and give you access to programs that better fit your goals.
  • Start dates: Multiple start dates per year mean you can likely begin nursing school sooner.
  • Accreditation and state approval: Ensure a program is regionally accredited and has state approval.
Outdoor photo of school campus

Want more guidance about choosing a nursing program? Here are nine questions to ask to help you decide where to go to school.

2. Apply to a Nursing Program

Once you’ve chosen where you want to attend nursing school, the next step is preparing to apply. Before you can apply, review the admission requirements with an admissions counselor and identify any gaps in your education.

Accelerated nursing programs require you to take prerequisites, so enroll in those courses if you haven’t already taken them. Also, bear in mind that you’ll need to meet specific GPA requirements, and some programs require you to pass an entrance exam.

Once you meet the admissions requirements, it’s time to submit your application. The application materials you’ll need for the Northeastern ABSN include the following:

  • Completed online application
  • Personal statement
  • Video essay
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official college transcripts

3. Earn Your BSN

nursing student working on whiteboard

The next step in going from military to BSN is earning your degree. The ABSN program at Northeastern consists of a hybrid model that combines online and in-person learning. Online classes form the backbone of your education, teaching you the fundamentals of nursing care for children and adults.

Then you’ll apply what you learn in online classes to skills and simulation labs at the ABSN learning center and clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities. Your learning experiences will set you up to be a knowledgeable nurse who can provide quality care to your patients, whether you end up working in a hospital, clinic, or community nursing role.

Northeastern ABSN student working in sim lab

How hard is nursing school? Here’s what to expect in the Accelerated BSN program.

4. Pass the NCLEX

After graduating from nursing school, the final benchmark in the journey from military to nursing is passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The NCLEX will challenge you as a culmination of all the concepts you’ve learned throughout nursing school. It tests your ability to make sound clinical judgments and care decisions.

Because of the high stakes of the NCLEX, you should start preparing for test day a few months in advance. Bear in mind that the ABSN program at Northeastern is committed to preparing you for the NCLEX, starting in the first semester of nursing school.

5. Receive Your RN License

After graduating with a BSN and passing the NCLEX, you will receive your RN license if you meet all the other requirements for your state board of nursing. You can then begin caring for patients in a professional capacity.

6. Begin Your First Nursing Job

You’ve made it! The transition from military to BSN is complete, and you’re ready to start your first job as a nurse. With a BSN, you’ll be prepared to enter any number of nursing specialties, such as:

  • Ambulatory care
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Inpatient care
  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics
Nurse giving child patient a band-aid

What else can you do with a BSN degree? Here are 16 nursing specialties to choose from.

Support for Veterans

As you embark on the journey from military to nursing, choosing the right program is a big deal. Attending a school that supports your academic pursuits and connects you with resources for funding your nursing degree is important. At Northeastern, our admissions counselors will guide you throughout the admissions process to ensure you have access to veteran-specific programs and opportunities. We will also work with you to create a realistic financial plan for completing your degree.

Why Make the Military to BSN Change?

Many veterans find that nursing is a natural transition after finishing military service because nurses use many of the skills you already developed in the military. For example, during your service, you must remain calm and act quickly in a dynamic and sometimes fast-paced environment, similar to how nurses work in the healthcare environment.

Veterans are trained to possess many of the same soft skills that the best nurses also have, such as:

  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Teamwork
  • Attention to detail
  • Integrity
  • Communication

Start Your Journey from Veteran to BSN Today

Now that you can see how natural the transition is from veteran to BSN, it’s time to begin your path to nursing. At Northeastern University, you can earn a BSN in as few as 16 months through our ABSN program. You can even choose from our three yearly start dates and two locations, one near Boston, Massachusetts, and the other in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fully integrated and locally informed, our global university system provides our community and partners unique opportunities across a vast range of geographic, political, and cultural contexts.

northeastern student studying on laptop

You may be eligible for the ABSN program if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or, for the Charlotte ABSN, at least 62 non-nursing college credits. Throughout the program, you will prepare for the NCLEX and work to become a skilled and compassionate nurse.

Contact one of our ABSN admissions counselors to learn more about nursing at Northeastern. We’ll help you begin your nursing journey today.

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