Reasons to Be a Nurse. And Some Mistaken Reasons Not To.
Maybe you know the feeling: You wake up for work feeling unmotivated about the day ahead. You go about your daily routine without much enthusiasm. You feel stuck, but don’t really know how to get un-stuck. “Why am I doing this?” “This isn’t really what I imagined.” “I need a change.”
A lot of our nursing students are career changers who have worked in a totally different field before they decided to pursue nursing. When they talk to prospective students about reasons to be a nurse, many of them describe reaching a point where they felt they just needed more. To make a difference. To inspire others and be inspired in return. Some talk about how an existing nurse influenced them, whether that be a family member or a stranger who made a lasting impression. Just as often, they talk about all the reasons they almost didn’t become a nurse, and why those reasons ultimately didn’t matter.
Student Thought these were Reasons Not to Be a Nurse
Here are five of the common arguments our nursing students didn’t listen to:
- “I’ll never get into nursing school.” Ah, this one’s a biggie. Many potential nurses believe they have to have an existing background in healthcare or science, or already be working in a hospital, or be a biology or math genius to get accepted by a great nursing program. At Northeastern, the Accelerated BSN program is open to anyone with an existing bachelor’s degree who can meet the ABSN admission requirements. Yes, Northeastern is a nationally renowned university with a strong reputation, and the ABSN program is rigorous and competitive. Not everyone will get in. But with three potential start dates a year and spots for more students than the typical nursing program, it’s certainly more accessible than many students may think.
“Great, but what about the actual application process?” you may be wondering. True, it takes discipline and effort to get accepted into a good program. You’ll have to share your transcripts, you may have to take some prerequisite courses. and you’ll have to write an essay, or “goal statement,” talking about why nursing is your passion. You’ll also have to provide letters of recommendation. But keep in mind that Northeastern’s ABSN program provides you with a personal admissions counselor to help you through this entire process, from the very first moment you express interest in the program until your first day of class. Not too many programs offer that level of support to prospective students.
- “Never mind getting into nursing school. . . I’ll never get through nursing school!” This is usually the other major reason students put their nursing dream on hold—concern over whether or not they can actually handle the program. The 16-month Northeastern ABSN program is fast-paced, but it is also designed with the student in mind. The online courses allow you to learn on your own time and in your own environment, while still giving you plenty of opportunities to interact with classmates and faculty. At the same time, the lab courses and advanced simulation activities, along with the clinical rotations in top-notch healthcare facilities, give you a chance to master core nursing skills in a safe, supervised environment as well as through direct patient contact.
Your most valuable support group, though, will be your peers and your teachers. Students in the ABSN program are assigned to a cohort of peers right from the start, and you stay with these classmates throughout the program. So not only do you have built-in resources and cheerleaders while you’re in school, but you also have an automatic network of fellow nurses ready to help you after you graduate. The Northeastern nursing faculty, too, are passionate about what they teach and are invested in every student’s success. Many students also develop mentors through their clinical rotations who become future sources of support, encouragement, or even employment.
- “It’s not the right time to go back to school.” Going back to nursing school is a serious decision and a major time commitment, no doubt about it. Students with existing jobs, families, or other outside demands are often very worried about fitting nursing school into their already-hectic lives. But consider your nursing education as an investment with a certain return. If you were to start the ABSN program today, in 16 months you would be ready to take your licensure exam, become an RN, and pursue your first job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an RN is $75,330, and nurses with a bachelor’s degree have the highest potential for increased earnings and faster job placement. So instead of asking “Is this the right time?”, ask “What are the risks if I wait?” There is an opportunity cost to waiting: every year that you don’t begin your degree translates to that much longer before you can start reaping the rewards of your investment. And like most big decisions in life, there never really is a “right time” or a point at which you feel 100 percent prepared to take the plunge. The only certainty is that the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits of a rewarding career.
- “I just can’t afford it.” Just as nursing school is a big-time investment, it’s also a big financial investment. But again, the advantage of an accelerated program is that it lets you complete your degree and begin earning a return on your investment more quickly. Schools like Northeastern also offer a variety of financial aid, and there are a number of public scholarship sources available specifically for nursing students (the Financial Aid office or your advisor can point you in the right direction.) The real bottom line is that nursing school is an investment in yourself and your career—and with the demand for nurses only expected to increase over time, it’s an investment well worth making.
- “What if I do all this and then can’t find a job once I graduate?” News of cost cuts and downsizing at major hospitals and healthcare organizations seems to pop up at regular intervals, appearing to contradict the argument that the US is headed toward a nursing shortage. Understandably, this makes prospective nursing students nervous. “Am I really going into a field with high employment rates and strong job security?” To answer this, it’s important to understand all the different career options available to an RN, and especially to a nurse with a BSN. While large hospitals tend to expand and contract as resources require, the demand for nurses in non-hospital settings-- such as patients’ homes, long-term care facilities, schools, corporations, public and community health organizations, walk-in clinics, and many others—shows no sign of abating. Further, graduates from Northeastern join a group of more than 240,000 alumni worldwide, providing an instant professional network. Northeastern-educated nurses can be found working in virtually every specialty area and type of healthcare setting throughout the U.S. and abroad, and most are happy to connect with a fellow alum.
When it comes to making a major life change, like starting a career in nursing, there are always going to be excuses waiting in the wings to delay or derail your resolve. Don’t let them. At the end of the day, Northeastern students will tell you that the reasons to be a nurse far outweigh the reasons not to. Don’t put your dream on hold... contact us today to learn more about our accelerated nursing program in Boston or to get help connecting to a current nursing student.