Switching jobs can be stressful. But a whole career change? Let’s not even begin with how overwhelming that can be! Nobody really wants to be stuck at a job they don’t like or a job they don’t find fulfilling anymore. So be it switching jobs, fields or even entire careers, it can be a necessary decision at times.
And if you’re considering transitioning to a nursing career at this time, the winds are certainly in your favor! Owing to nurse shortages, most hospitals are understaffed, and nurses overworked. Plus, the nursing workforce in the US is aging, with the average age being at 44 years. As more nurses approach the retiring age, an influx of new nurses will be a welcome respite for the already stretched thin workforce. So, the demand for nurses will only grow in the coming decade. The BLS estimates a 6% job growth rate for nurses by 2032.
However, a positive job market scenario lays to rest only one of the millions of doubts that could be running through your head right now. So, to help you further along in this uncharted territory, here are our top tips to help you make the right decision!
Start with the whys
Why are you quitting your present job? Why a nursing transition? Answering these questions can help you understand your goals better. At this stage, it is important to be honest with yourself. Understanding your motivations for this change will help you determine your career goals too. Chart a clear idea of what you want out of this change and where you want to see yourself down the line in the future. After all, you don’t want to end up in square one all over again.
Weigh in your transferrable skills
It’s easy to feel like you’re completely at sea when transitioning careers. Especially if it’s a demanding career like nursing. But there are some skills, mostly your soft skills, that can help with a smoother transition. For instance, your interpersonal skills can come in handy when collaborating with other healthcare professionals. It can also help you land networking opportunities that can help your career in the long run.
If you have technical skills, you can help in maintaining digital records or altogether consider a career in nurse informatics. Keeping what you’re good at in mind can eventually help you decide upon a specialization as well.
Network with nurses
If you’re going to pursue a nursing career, do you know who can be your best guide? Nurses, duh! Get in touch with nurses, and don’t be shy about asking questions. You can join volunteer groups, participate in seminars, join online forums or even join nurse groups on social media to expand your network. These connections can help you get a peek at what nurse life is really like.
Besides, networking isn’t just about finding someone to answer your questions. That’s definitely part of it but you’d find it more benefitting to build genuine relationships. These relationships can work out in your favor in the long run. For instance, you can have access to opportunities for collaboration and job leads and references that come through the grapevine. Being a part of a supportive nursing community is integral to professional and personal growth.
Don’t miss up on a shadowing opportunity
A shadowing opportunity can be the closest you can get to clinical experience without a license. You get to watch the action from up close and have your questions answered immediately. Shadowing a nurse can help you gain insight into what the everyday nurse life looks like. It can also help you understand your capabilities and choose a nursing career with that in mind.
Don’t skimp on the research
It goes without saying that doing proper research is the first step to a successful career transition. Nursing is a diverse field and knowing your way around is absolutely essential for creating a fruitful career roadmap.
Read up about degrees, accreditation, specialization, licensing exams, financial aid and clinical practice. Weigh your options wisely, keeping in mind your lifestyle factors and soft skills. Look up accelerated degrees that can help you get started with your nursing career without having to invest significantly more time. Reach out to alumni and present degree students to understand how a particular degree can align with your long-term nursing profession goals.
Plan your finances as well, since medical school can weigh a little heavy on the pocket and you likely won’t start earning immediately after quitting your previous job. Having a sizeable nest egg can come in handy at this time.
Be prepared for a long-term commitment
After spending time as a working professional, going back to school can be difficult. Especially nursing school, since it can be very demanding. But no career transition ever came easy. Nursing degrees can take anywhere between one and a half to four years to complete. And with licensing exams and other certifications, it may be a while before you finally become a nurse. It is easy to lose sight of your purpose and second guess yourself in this time.
Keep reminding yourself of the whys to stay motivated. Manage your time well so that you don’t get easily overwhelmed. Don’t set any unrealistic expectations. Remember it’ll all be worthwhile when you land your first dream nursing job!
Start out slow
Hey, you’re not the only one feeling the heat when it comes to choosing a specialization. Even seasoned RNs can find it difficult. But here’s the thing, you don’t have to choose a specialization right off the bat! While you do need to decide eventually, you can wait until you have some more experience and understand where you want to go. Starting out as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) can help you understand specialization requirements better so you can make a decision wisely when the time comes.
Over to you
A career transition can be daunting and there can be times when you doubt it all. It can be a challenge to completely reorient one of the major anchoring factors of your life. But it can also be rewarding when you finally find your purpose in life.
A nursing career gives you the opportunity to make a greater impact in the world and on people’s lives. It is a noble profession that values dedication and sincerity. Along with job stability, career growth and respect, you also get to make valuable contributions to the ever-evolving medical community.