New new career. Considering nursing program. Appreciate ideas, advice, reality checks.
September 27, 2010 6:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm bored and need a new, challenging career. I think I want to become a nurse practitioner. But, I can't start a program for 1.5 yrs. I REALLY can't do what I'm doing now for the next year and a half. I would appreciate some ideas/inspiration/reality checks, whatever you have to offer.

I have a previous BA and then an MA in Urban Planning. I've been doing campaign work/social justice work for the last 12 yrs. Need a change, although would still like to do work with some meaning.

Because I need to take some prerequisites and because of application timelines, I can't start the program for about a year and half and am really looking for advice on what I can/should do for money until then. I looked at Practical Nursing programs, but those seem to take so long that I figure I may as well just do the accelerated RN programs in a year and a half. I have a kid and so need to make some decent money and have some time with him, which is important to me.

Since I have Urban Planning training, I thought maybe I'd do something in that field, but am having trouble finding that work. I'm open to anything else interesting. I'm in the difficult job market (but awesome city) of Portland, OR. Thanks for any advice.
posted by stewieandthedude to Work & Money (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Nursing school admissions are pretty competitive these days, especially for accelerated programs. Can you work somewhere that would help make you a more attractive candidate for the program? Getting your nursing assistant certification is really quick (6 weeks, maybe?), although those jobs don't pay particularly well. With a social justice background, maybe you could look for a position coordinating hospital or hospice volunteers? Just about anything that would get you near the healthcare field would probably help on your application. Good luck!
posted by vytae at 6:53 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: Maybe you could move into health informatics and health planning, while taking some sort of certificate or volunteering somewhere related.
posted by acoutu at 7:04 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: Practical nursing is not worth the time it takes to complete the training, especially if your ultimate goal is to be a nurse practitioner. You'd have to go back for the RN and then on the NP school. Actually getting to the nurse practitioner stage will take quite a few years - you'll have to practice as an RN for at least a couple of years before applying to NP school.

One of the upsides to Portland is that there is a really terrific nursing school there (OHSU). Sometimes you have to be careful with accelerated programs, but they are a very well-regarded school.

I you are serious about attending nursing school, it will help your application immensely if you get some health care experience. There tend to be many more applicants than spots in nursing programs, and having some health care experience can make a huge difference in your chances of getting accepted. Many nursing students work as nursing assistants while they are in school. It is good hands-on experience and really lets you know what your work environment will be like. Often emergency departments will hire EMT-Bs to do nursing assistant type of work. You could also look at clerical or administrative work in health care, but keep in mind the farther away from the "bedside" it is, the less valuable it will be for nursing school admissions. None of these things pay well.

Nursing is hard physical work, which often requires a lot of running around and lifting. Then there's dealing with people's body fluids and excretions, and with their emotions. Many people find it very fulfilling, but it isn't easy work.

If you just want to do something that makes a difference, you may consider working in health care in another capacity. There's lots to do that doesn't involve hands-on patient care that is still valuable and important.

Not a nurse; just been surrounded by them every day for the past 11 years.

On preview - health informatics is BIG right now. The feds recently incentivized electronic health records with a boatload of money and many health care organizations are scrambling to figure out how to put the pieces together.
posted by jeoc at 7:10 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm in an accelerated APRN program, although one that didn't need pre-reqs. I previously worked full-time in the hospital, among other things. Having worked in the hospital has/will prep me for things that aren't taught but are important - who the doctors are who are more amenable to teaching people, how to wrangle a CT scan from an insurance company that doesn't want to pay, and how to bill correctly. It paid competitively but not spectacularly, but more importantly - staying on as casual while I'm at school means that when I apply for RN and then APRN jobs means I'm applying as an internal candidate.

So my kind of wacky advice? Consider taking anything realistic at a hospital of your choice near your program, if possible and if that's going to help you. (Volunteering will help, but usually not as much from a practical standpoint; it may help more from a psychological standpoint.)

Also, my job had nothing to do with my MA in Anthropology, excepting that, well, people were involved.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:32 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: Definitely start somewhere in the medical field whether you are a nursing assistant in a hospital or in a nursing home so that you will know if you will even like the work before spending your time and money to get a degree in it. EMT and paramedic school may also be a good option if you like the medical field but want a change of scenery every day. If you find that you don't much care of scraping people up off the pavement or cleaning up after them in a hospital setting but still like the healthcare field, healthcare administration can be a great job.
posted by MsKim at 7:37 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: From some of my friends who have returned to school for nursing, the prereqs take a lot of time. There are multiple lab sciences to take and they volunteer on the side. Being a man might make it easier for you to get into school.

But none of the people I knew who went back to school to do this had kids while changing careers completely to nursing. I've heard of mothers or fathers who go back to school, but it's a hell of a lot of work and they usually have a spouse to support them while they go back to school.

Are you really interested in nursing or in the idea of the security that the profession conjures up?

I have a previous BA and then an MA in Urban Planning. I've been doing campaign work/social justice work for the last 12 yrs. Need a change, although would still like to do work with some meaning.

Can you go back to school for GIS or something that will enhance what you already have to offer? If you're looking for "meaning" in the sense of caretaking or being in a helping profession, could you look at MSW programs and become a social worker?
posted by anniecat at 7:43 PM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: If you've got tech savvy, go the health informatics route for now. OHSU has a ton of job postings under IT. You could get some great experience w/ medical professionals as your prepare for your new career. Good luck!
posted by Lukenlogs at 8:22 PM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Really appreciate the advice.
posted by stewieandthedude at 10:56 AM on September 28, 2010

« Older Does re-ripping a lossy track the same way lower...   |   Help my wooden ring fit better Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.