A profession needing to hire more than 581,000 new workers and replace hundreds of thousands of additional workers leaving the field by 2018 can get creative about helping career changers break into the field. That's exactly why diverse educational options are available to mid-career workers who want to switch gears and pursue a new career in nursing.
"The variety is needed to avoid duplicative education efforts on the part of second-career students and to feed the nursing pipeline," says Susan Odegaard Turner, a healthcare consultant and nurse with 30 years of wide-ranging experience in healthcare.
If you're looking to transition into nursing, check out the varied educational paths you can explore.
The LPN/LVN Path
With at least a high school diploma, you can obtain one year of training at a hospital, vocational-technical school or community college and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in some states.
But know in advance, Turner says, that as an LPN/LVN you'll be limited in the on-the-job activities you can perform. Equally important, she says, is the fact that you'll likely earn $10 to $15 an hour less than registered nurses (RNs), whose practice scope is wider. "An LVN is a great stepping-stone to RN, but the roles are not interchangeable," she says.
Once you finish your training, you'll need to pass your state-administered National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to obtain your LPN/LVN license.
The RN Path
If you'd rather go straight for your RN, you can get there via several paths:
Of course, you'll also need to pass your state's National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to get your state RN license.
Whatever your current situation, you can find an educational path into nursing that makes sense given your background and time frame. The industry definitely needs you.
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