The Rise of the Second-Career Nurse
So, the question I am asked most is, “Why did I switch from law to nursing?’” Well, the quick and dirty answer is I wasn’t happy practicing law. The deeper or more profound response is that I wanted a profession that, to me, was more rewarding and tangible. Now, there is a bit more in between the quick dirty and the profound that I will discuss below.
For the longest time I thought that I was a lonely statistic, but many Americans return to school as second-degree nurses. The second-degree nurse is on the rise because the the projected nursing shortage, the rewards of the career, and the push from colleges and universities to enroll this specific kind of student.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a shortage of approximately 800,000 nurses by the year 2020. This statistic has lead many university and colleges to not only create nursing programs, but develop accelerated nursing programs that enroll second-degree students. In an article for Lippincott’s NursingCenter, Sally Jo Borrello, contends that the push to create accelerated programs is because second-career nursing gradates excel in the workplace and are because of their maturity, life experiences that lend to critical thinking, their pursuit of learning, and not to mention their lower dropout rate as compared to traditional nursing students.
Many traditional nursing students decide to enroll in nursing school because it is intrinsically rewarding — it feels good to care for others. However, according to Dockery and Barns, nursing has become an attractive option for second degree students seeking a career change primarily because of the extrinsic rewards, such as flexible hours, autonomy, employment security, and travel opportunities. This is the “bit more in between” I mentioned above. I pursued a career in nursing not just for the intrinsic rewards, but working three days a week and the job security made it an obvious choice.
During my journey, I learned that it is okay to change your mind and to go out and seek what you truly desire in a career. Deciding on nursing as a second career is an awesome choice because nurses have the honor of caring for our chronically and acutely ill while enjoying the benefits of flexibility and job security.