How to Pursue Nursing as a Second Degree

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You can pursue nursing as a second degree with Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. Some important factors to consider when pursuing a career change to nursing include prerequisites required to pursue a BSN, program cost, benefits of becoming a nurse, the admissions process, and more.

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A career change and a desire to want to be part of something bigger than yourself is something admirable to strive for. As nursing is one of the most rewarding, high-demand occupations today, it can be appealing to pursue nursing as a second degree. However, this career change can be daunting. The thought of going back to college, spending more money, and another four years on a second bachelor’s degree is a big commitment. Only, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program makes it possible to earn a quality BSN degree in as few as 16 months. In this program you don’t have to start your college education over from scratch. Our ABSN program builds on your non-nursing bachelor’s degree, so you can begin professional nursing study from the first day of class onward.

Beyond the time commitment involved in pursuing nursing as a second career, there’s still a financial component. While our ABSN program — or any accelerated nursing program for that matter — requires major financial planning, there are plenty of options available for financing your education. Not to mention, a BSN offers a significant return on your investment.

Value of a BSN Degree

Going back to school for nursing requires you to do some serious financial planning. But as you run the numbers, keep in mind that a BSN degree is a smart investment in your future. Our ABSN program is a rigorous, full-time learning path that requires dedication and hard work to succeed. Thereby, we don’t recommend working while in accelerated nursing school.

Despite the cost, a career change to nursing is a good investment. Nursing is a high-demand, fast-growing profession rife with reward and opportunity ― especially for those who hold a BSN degree or higher. After all, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes a BSN as the minimum education requirement for professional practice. Therefore, many health-care employers now require their registered nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to go back to school and earn their BSN within a specified time frame.

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By earning a BSN degree, you’ll:

  • Get noticed by health-care employers. More and more employers now realize the value of having more educated nurses on staff, so they prefer hiring nursing graduates with a BSN.
    • For example, Magnet hospitals, a distinction to recognize hospitals that provide high-quality care and implement innovative/up-to-date practices, hire nurses with a BSN. These hospitals attract highly qualified nurses and foster an environment which gives a higher sense of job satisfaction for those nurses.
  • Provide competent, compassionate care. Research shows the more BSN-prepared registered nurses a health-care facility employs, the better the patient outcomes and the lower the mortality rates.
  • Earn a higher wage. Nurses who hold a BSN have greater earning power than those with an ADN.
  • Have more career opportunities. A BSN opens the door to work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient health-care settings. It also paves the way for earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and achieving advanced practice certification.
  • Lead the charge for change. A BSN, which includes management, leadership, and public health courses, plays a pivotal role in helping nursing students develop the competencies necessary to advocate for patients and the profession.

Xavier Students Who Went from BS to BSN

Even with the value of a career change, if you’ve been out of the college setting for a while, the thought of going back to school may seem a little intimidating. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many career changers apply to our ABSN program, from realtors to sales representatives to psychologists and everything in between. And no matter how far along you are in your career, there’s probably been an ABSN student like you.

We’ve had students 30 years into their previous career make a career change to pursue nursing as a second degree. We have had students who wanted to become nurses but had to put that on hold for various reasons, come back to college to pursue that second degree.

Overall, our ABSN cohorts represent a unique mix of students who come from different academic backgrounds. One student who graduated in 2019 from our ABSN program named Sarah said, “There’s significant value in having a diverse group of people contributing to the conversation.”

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Prerequisites for Becoming a Nurse

No matter what degree you obtained originally, you have the same opportunity to accelerate into the nursing profession. That is, once you’ve completed the ABSN prerequisites, which depending on what classes you took in your first degree, you may have to complete before starting this program.

Becoming a Nurse Starting from a Liberal Arts Degree

Someone with a liberal arts degree will likely have to complete all four of our ABSN prerequisites —microbiology, anatomy and physiology I and II, and statistics. Nurses need a strong understanding of math and science to be successful. Thereby, these courses are a way to gauge how well you’ll do in nursing school.

Our ABSN prerequisites are challenging, so if you’ve struggled with science in the past, you might consider taking these courses one at a time. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin when trying to navigate the complexities of the material.

When you’re ready to take these prerequisites, we make it convenient for you to do so by offering them 100% online through our university. By choosing Xavier to complete the prerequisites, you may qualify for provisional admission into the ABSN program.

Once you become a student in our ABSN program, you’ll complete a rigorous curriculum made up of a blend of online and on-site learning. After so much hands-on experience, you will be prepared to enter the nursing field with confidence.

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Check out the importance of ABSN prerequisites.

Becoming a Nurse Starting from a Biology Degree

A good number of our ABSN program applicants have a biology degree. If that’s your background, you’ve probably completed most, if not all, of our ABSN prerequisites. By having already completed these prerequisites, you can complete the admissions process and enter nursing school quicker than someone with a liberal arts degree.

However, you must show successful completion of these courses within eight years of entering our ABSN program. Why? Science is constantly evolving, with researchers making new discoveries all the time. Thereby, your science knowledge needs to be up to speed so you can grasp today’s complex nursing concepts.

If you have to take one or more of these prerequisites, you can do so 100% online through Xavier University. And by taking your prerequisites through our university, you may qualify for provisional admission into the ABSN program.

How to Finance a Second Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

No matter where you go, nursing school is a major expense. Second-degree ABSN students are often ineligible for university grants or scholarships, and many don’t qualify for state or federal grants. The good news, however, is there are several ways to finance your education, including the following three options:

  1. Federal Direct Loans
  2. Private Education Loans
  3. Third-Party Scholarships

More than likely, you’ll need to use a combination of federal and private loans to cover the cost of your nursing school tuition. But first, we recommend looking into the different low-interest federal direct loan options available through the U.S. Department of Education. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to know what type of loan you’re eligible to receive.

Federal student aid typically doesn’t cover the total cost of attending an ABSN program, so be on the lookout for banks and credit unions that offer private loans with low-interest rates and good terms. Because private loans are credit-based, it’s important to know your credit score. If you have poor credit, you’re likely to pay a higher interest rate than you would with a federal loan. You may even need a co-signer on your loan.

While we do not offer Xavier grants or scholarships for our ABSN program, we encourage you to pursue award-based funding through a third party. Each scholarship follows different criteria.

xavier student working with manikin

Start your national scholarship search at FastWeb and the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. On the local front, we recommend looking into the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP) created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1990 to assist in the state’s nursing shortage.

NEALP provides financial assistance to Ohio students enrolled for at least half-time study in an approved Ohio pre-licensure nurse education program. To qualify for loan cancellation, recipients must work full-time as an RN or LPN in the state of Ohio for at least five years after graduation.

Ready to Pursue a Career Change to Nursing?

The value of a second degree in nursing, as well as making a career change to nursing, can be great in terms of compensation and self-fulfillment. If the value of this career change is something that you can plan financially for and something you want to pursue, contact us for more information and to get into contact with an admissions counselor.

Making a career change is intimidating, but in many cases the choice of pursuing nursing as a second degree has been a good one for our students.

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