Many aspiring nurses start their nursing journey as soon as they graduate from high school. Others don’t realize that their ideal career is in healthcare until they have already spent twenty years in a career. Fortunately, with enough hard work, skill, and determination, you can become a nurse at any age.
If you have recently decided to switch your career to nursing late in life, here are fifteen tips that will help you succeed.
- Pursue an Online Degree
Luckily for you, there isn’t one single path to becoming a nurse. In fact, you can bypass the whole traditional learning system if you don’t have the time to spare by pursuing an online degree. It’s not just your bachelor’s you can study online, either – you can do a master’s and online DNP programs from the comfort of your sofa (or bed).
Of course, you’ll still need to go to your field placements, but studying at home will save you lots of time. This is especially important if you cannot give up your current career right away, as an online degree will slot around your current work hours much more easily.
- Get Comfortable with Technology
If you are currently in a role that doesn’t require much use of technology, then it might be time to start integrating more of it into your life. While you don’t need to be a computer whiz to become a nurse, you should be fairly comfortable using computers and other healthcare-related technologies in your day-to-day life. For example, many nurses must use Electronic Health Records during their shifts. This is especially true if you want to go on to do online DNP programs, as higher-up nursing roles often require more use of technology.
- Talk to Other Nurses
Switching your career is always difficult, and it becomes even more challenging when you’re switching to such an intense and busy career. To make sure you are making the right decision and to give you some peace of mind, reach out to current nurses and ask for their viewpoints.
If you plan on applying to online DNP programs later down the line, consider talking to nurses in more advanced roles. You might even come across high-up nurses who switched careers like you, who will be able to give you invaluable advice.
- Use What You’ve Already Learned
As someone who has worked a long time in another career, the chances are you have plenty of transferable skills that’ll translate well to nursing. Don’t underestimate your current skill set! While you will learn a lot of new information while studying nursing degrees and online DNP programs, you still have a lot of knowledge that will help you get through your studies.
If you’ve previously worked with customers, for example, you can use those interpersonal skills as a nurse. Even if you’ve worked in a comfortable office your entire life, the time management and organization skills will prove invaluable, and you’ll find you outshine many younger nurses in these areas.
- Study Whenever and Wherever You Can
Switching your career to nursing means a lot of studying. If you’re planning on sticking with your current career until you are fully qualified, this will be challenging but still very much doable, as long as you put in the hours. By studying whenever and wherever you can, you ensure you put enough hours into your education. That means studying on your work breaks, in the morning before work, and in the car park while you wait for your partner to pick up the shopping.
Whether you are studying for online DNP programs, it’s important to make the most of the hours you have spare by using them to study.
- Aim Higher
Just because you’re not as young as many of the other student nurses, that doesn’t mean you can’t aim for a high-up nursing career. After all, if you’re putting effort into becoming a registered nurse, why not go a little farther?
Once you’re qualified as an RN, you can then pursue further education online, allowing you to earn money and gain experience while you study. There are online DNP programs you can do to increase your nursing knowledge while qualifying you for advanced nursing roles.
- Don’t Stress About Your Age
Nursing degrees and careers often come with enough stresses of their own, so don’t add to it by stressing about your age. Instead, focus on all the incredible experiences you have ahead of you. Plus, there’s not much you could have done better when you were younger than you could now! The best nurses are intelligent, caring, and motivated – three qualities that are not defined by age.
If you ever find yourself worrying about your age, remember how much wisdom and experience those years have given you.
- Take on Volunteering and Training Opportunities
While there is a direct route to becoming a nurse, which involves education and a certain amount of field experience, you should also consider additional volunteering and training options if you can. By doing so, you speed up the progression of your nursing career, allowing you to get ahead without spending too many years doing so. Plus, the more experienced, the better nurse you’ll become. Ask at a local clinic or hospital to see if they have any volunteering availabilities, and give a few hours of your week to improving your healthcare skills.
- Consider Why You Want to Be a Nurse – and Let it Drive You
Everyone decides to become a nurse for their own reason. Some love the busy nature of the role; others want to pursue online DNP programs to earn a high salary, whereas others just want to spend their career helping people.
Whichever category you fit into (and that might be multiple), let it drive you whenever you are having moments of doubt. If your reason is that you want to help people, for example, think about the impact your actions will make once you become a qualified nurse. It’s enough to get anyone to study for the evening!
- Work on Your Communication Skills
If your current career doesn’t involve working with the public, then it’s a good idea to work on your communications skills as you practice to become a nurse. Even if you’re generally considered a good communicator amongst your co-workers, friends, and family, communicating with patients is a whole different story. Plus, if you want to go on to pursue online DNP programs, your communication skills must be better than good – they must be second to none.
- Choose a Part-Time Degree
You might be excited about switching your career to nursing, but that doesn’t mean you must qualify as a nurse as quickly as possible. In fact, you might have more success taking it slow and pursuing a part-time online degree on the side of your current job. That way, you won’t have to compromise too much of your time. Not only will it ensure you don’t lose hours on your current job, but it also means you have more time to digest the nursing knowledge, increasing your chances of good grades.
- Manage Your Time Wisely
When it comes to becoming a nurse, your time matters. After all, you’ll need to put lots of hours into studying, training, and lessons – online or otherwise. To make sure you can fit everything into your day, you should learn to manage your time more wisely.
Use Time Management Apps
If you struggle to manage your time, there are plenty of time management apps available to help schedule your days, weeks, and months. Many are simple to use, meaning you don’t have to spend too long figuring out where all your hours should go.
Keep a Study Schedule
When you’re studying to become a nurse, it’s important to keep and stick to a study schedule. That way, you won’t fall behind on the work.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s difficult to manage your time when you’re tired – you’ll probably spend too much of the day spacing out, after all. So, to ensure your hours are spent wisely, prioritize getting enough sleep.
Start Assignments Early
By getting into the habit of starting your nursing degree assignments early, finding the time for studying will feel much breezier. After all, it’s better to spread your study hours out rather than try to cram in the week before a deadline.
Luckily, you’ve probably learned a lot of time management skills from your current career, so use them when you can.
- Up Your Confidence
Don’t let the youth of your classmates stop your confidence. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have – what matters is how passionate you are about nursing. So, use that passion to fuel your confidence, and you’ll find getting your nursing qualifications much easier. Plus, you’ll need plenty of confidence when working with patients, so it’s better to get the experience in as early as possible.
- Make Lots of Nursing Connections
There are plenty of benefits to making lots of nursing connections during your studies and work. Firstly, the more connections you have, the bigger the likelihood that you’ll be recommended for more advanced careers down the road. On top of that, it’ll also open the door to new nursing friendships, which will prove invaluable once you become a nurse. So, as soon as you start your nursing journey, make it your mission to make lots of connections and friends.
- Consider the Different Nursing Options
If your only knowledge about your direction is that you want to be a nurse, it’s a wise decision to consider all the different paths you could take. You might want to stick as a registered nurse for the entirety of your career, or you might want to pursue online DNP programs and become an advanced and prestigious nurse. Some of your options include –
- Registered Nurse
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Educator
By knowing your direction, you’ll have a better focus throughout your studies and work experience.
Why Should You Become a Nurse?
After deciding to switch your career to nursing, you might come across moments of doubt. Don’t worry – these are normal for every nursing student, and you’ll usually realize that they’re only bumps rather than hills. In those moments, it helps to remember the benefits of becoming a nurse. They are:
The Chance to Earn a Lucrative Salary
While not all nursing roles pay an extremely high salary, some do, and by studying to become a nurse, you open the door to those careers. So, if you are money motivated, you have the chance to pursue lucrative nursing careers like a Nurse Anesthetist or a General Nurse Practitioner – two roles that on average pay a six-figure salary. For a better salary, consider online DNP programs.
You’ll Meet Amazing People
The nursing world is full to the brim with amazing people, which makes sense, as it’s a career path that involves a lot of patience and compassion. Due to this, you can expect to meet some of the best people you’ve ever come across, some of which might end up becoming lifelong friends.
The Shifts are Flexible
If you are currently in a fixed nine until five role, then it might please you to learn that nursing is much more flexible with its hours, which means you can fit your work around your life much easier.
It’s a Career that’s Focused on Helping People
By choosing to switch to a nursing career, you make sure your working life is dedicated to helping people. With every patient you help, you know you’re making a positive difference in the world.
Switching your career is always scary. Don’t let your fear stop you from pursuing your dream, though, as a career in nursing is exciting, dynamic, and fulfilling. No matter how many challenges you face, the positives will outweigh them.