Nursing: Tradition Gives
Way To Non-Traditional

When the idea about a nursing career first comes to mind, most thinking about this healthcare career conjure images of women taking this employment path. Once the choice for many 18-year-old women fresh from high school, today’s nursing professional is anything but that once-held traditional image.

College Students Are Much Older

The face of today’s college student is a portrait of someone much older, more experienced, quite busy juggling personal, business and academic lives. This student may, more than likely be a male. Also, the college student today may be attending school with their own college-aged children. Furthermore, actually attending a nursing school in today’s world follows anything but the traditional approach education once followed. There are many alternatives to the standard brick-and-mortar classroom learning center that was once typified but all two or four year institutions of higher education.

Check Out the Survey

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) conducts a national survey of the nursing profession every four years. This survey reveals the nature of a nursing school student answering the questions of how they obtained an education, where and what these respondents are now doing with this education. The survey also reveals information about nursing career planning pathways and what future educational opportuniti9es can lead to future employment scenarios.

America’s Nursing Population Has Changed

As of the year 2004, the average age for a student graduating as a Registered Nurse (RN) from an initial education program was 31. This is a considerably “older” change from the age of 24 recorded in 1985. Additionally, many students obtaining a RN license have initially earned a different academic degree before deciding to enter the nursing field. During the years from 2000 to 2008, the percentage of RN candidates having earned previous degrees rose from 13.3 percent to 21.7 percent.

Degrees Previously Earned are Non-Health Related
The survey also reveals that the most recent entry-level RN students earned degrees in fields other than those that are health-related such as business and management, humanities and other liberal arts subjects. Furthermore, a person seeking to become an RN today is most likely to have earned a different degree and spent some time working in a totally unrelated career before making the decision to become an RN. Plus, recent graduates from nursing programs becoming RNs are not all women. In fact, 10 percent of all nursing school graduates from 2005 to 2008 were males. Additionally, recent grad pools have been quite ethnically diverse as well. New nurses today fall into minority ethnic groups that have risen from 15.5 percent in 2001 to 22 percent today. More African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians have made the decision to enter today’s nursing field than have done so in the past.

What is the Present Nursing Career Pathway?
How are these older, previously educated and more ethnically diverse RN candidates choosing to return to school? The education options are several. Professionals already possessing a bachelor degree in another field can choose a BSN two-year program quite similar to the traditional Associate degree program leading to RN licensure. If a student possesses the necessary prerequisites, attending a traditional four-year college can be completed in two years. All the nursing classes and clinical settings will be at the traditional campus nearby, making access easy for people with families and active private lives. Students will find a diverse group of classmates that will range from 18 to 30, from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds including seniors past t50 seeking new life challenges.

What if Two Years is Too Long?

Many students fear facing even a structured two-year program on a college campus and may seek to find an accelerated bachelor degree nursing program. These fast-track programs are available in 43 states and the District of Columbia and are becoming increasingly popular. The fast-track timeline for completing necessary coursework can be typically 12 to 18 months, Keep in mind that “fast-track” also means intense. This is a fulltime commitment for serious students where there are no breaks from the start until the course is completed. These programs are designed for second-degree seeking students who are quite motivated, usually a bit older yet retain high academic expectations. Typically, the student that excels in this type of accelerated program has already demonstrated prior academic excellence proving they are capable for handling such an intense college course of study. Furthermore, this type of intense study in a compressed time period does dictate full-time attendance since coursework and clinical hours produce an intimidating schedule that more than likely leaves little time for employment. Financial aid is at a premium for these programs and admission requirements are quite high. Usually, students enrolled in this type of demanding 12 to 18-month course of study must rely heavily upon family support for successful completion.

What to Do Without a Sugar Daddy?

Many students facing a questionable source for funding a nursing education make up one of the largest sections of the present day online college student segment. In fact, more than likely all RNs working today have taken more than 75 percent of their coursework in some kind of long-distance learning setting including online opportunities. Employers are getting on the bandwagon as well offering a variety of incentives compelling employees – LPNs and non-degreed RNs – to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Online study can help full time nurses attend school but keep working. The benefits are many:

  • Nurses can fulfill a 7-3 shift, come home to the kids, fix dinner, see to the family needs and then study online after slipping into one’s PJs
  • Online study is absolutely affordable since these opportunities use fewer resources than the traditional brick-and-mortar settings. For example, no need for Student Union fees when attending school online. You won’t need to park or ever use the gym.
  • Online schools are everywhere because…well…they are online. No need to travel to some big name university far away from home.
  • Online nursing programs receive accreditation from the very same entities that certify all traditional campus-based nursing programs. Schools offering nursing courses online set the same high academic expectations as traditional schools set. Teachers at online settings are just as qualified as their campus-based colleagues.
  • Sometimes the actual studying through online education sources is beneficial, especially when students seek specializing in, for example, nursing informatics. A degree earned through online study can easily point to the fact the student is technologically proficient and has proven computer skills to complete the job. Online students cannot escape developing tech savvy skills.
    • Since class is everywhere you are – have laptop, will learn. Take classes sitting poolside or in the comfort of a home after putting the kids to bed.

Opportunities also exist for students interested in a nursing education to blend learning scenarios with online sources for “classroom” course work while gaining the needed lab and clinical schools at either a local campus or hospital setting. With a little search, a person with a non-traditional student profile can find a non-traditional education path that leads to what is a very traditional employment choice – nursing. As time may prove, these nursing education pathways may not remain non-traditional for very long.

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