Advice and ideas to jump start a career in the nursing field.
Whether you are right out of high school or starting a second career in nursing, there is always a few things that you can do right now to jump start your chances of being able to jump into the field of nursing.
There are many different nursing careers: you could be a CNA (certified nurse aide), which only requires 12 weeks or so of training), a LPN (licensed practical nurse, also called a LVN, a licensed vocational nurse), which has training that takes about a year, an RN, (registered nurse) which consists of schooling that lasts anywhere from 2-4 years, and then you could eventually go into advance practice nursing, which would mean that you would have to get a masters in nursing. For the sake of this article, I am going to assume that you are interested in becoming an RN.
The first thing would be to look into taking the pre-requisites that the local nursing programs require. Look into all the programs from all different angles: cost of the college, location of the college, how long the program will take, etc. There will always be pre-requisites, unless you have some sort of a Biology degree, and even then, there might be some classes that you still need to take. Register right away for the classes that you will need– usually, the science classes at community colleges especially, close quickly.
While you are taking the pre-requisites, a great idea would be to look into volunteering at a hospital. Most hospitals have a lot of opportunities where you would be working closely with nurses that you could observe, help, and ask questions about the nursing field to. Also, you will be able to tell if this is something that you are seriously interested in. Lastly, volunteering at a hospital always looks good on a resume, especially for those interested in a medical career. Volunteering in a hospital is almost crucial for those interested in obtaining a medical career, actually.
Once you are volunteering in a hospital and taking your pre-requisites, you would want to get on the waiting list at your local community college if you have not already done so. If you are attending a 4 year college, you obviously would not have to do this, but you would want to declare your major as nursing as soon as possible.
Try to prepare for your nursing classes by understanding that nursing school is very different from most college programs. Nursing classes are difficult, and unlike most majors, you do a lot of hands-on, clinical work out in the field, such as at the hospital.
You will then have to take a test at the end of you nursing schooling. Once you pass that test, you will be a registered nurse, and can practice nursing in your state. However, if you do not pass this test, even though you took years of nursing school, you will not be able to be a practicing nurse. You would then need to find out where to go from there, and see if you could take the test again.
This part will give aspiring midwives some insight on how to acheive this goal.
So you want to become a midwife? Congratulations! That’s a very good choice.
First of all, you will need to become an RN, or registered nurse.
No matter if you are an adult trying to switch careers or if you are still in high school, all aspiring midwives begin on the same page. The first thing to do would be to scout out all local universities and colleges and look at your options. Feel around for all of the different variables: how much will it cost? How long will the program take? Do they have flexible evening and daytime classes? Once you find a college that you like, you can start looking at pre-requisites, and chances are, if you do not have a degree in Biology, there will be pre-requisites in areas such as Math, Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, and the like. Also, get yourself on the Nursing program waiting list. Most colleges (especially community colleges) have waiting lists for RN programs. If you can afford it, go right for the BSN, a four year degree (Bachelor’s) in Nursing. You will eventually need this to become a midwife.
One of the biggest favors you can do yourself is to get a CNA (certified nursing assistant) certificate and work part-time in the hospital in labor and delivery (or any part of OB-GYN) while you are in nursing school. This certificate is quite cheap, and only lasts about 12 weeks. For most community colleges, you need this class to graduate anyhow. There are many job opportunities for the CNA at hospitals, even in labor and delivery. If you do this, you will be ahead of the game. Volunteering at the hospital is also a great idea, but they don’t usually have too many volunteering opportunities in the labor and delivery section.
Once you finish your RN and have been working part-time in labor and delivery as a CNA, you must get your BSN (Bachelor’s of Nursing). Some schools will want you to have worked at least one year as an RN before starting the BSN. A lot of hospitals want RNs to start in med-surg (medical surgery), and that would be a fine idea to start. Labor and delivery is a specialty, and most nurses do not start off in a specialty. However, if you were already a CNA in labor and delivery, they may waive this. It depends on the hospital.
Some programs offer online BSN programs, which, if you have the self-discipline, would be great for a full-time working RN. However, if this does not sound good to you, there are plenty of schools that offer flexible BSN programs. Since you already will have attained an associate’s degree, the BSN program will only be another two years.
If you already hold a Bachelor’s degree in another field, there are some schools that offer accelerated BSNs for people attaining a second Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Look into these. They are usually quite competitive and somewhat expensive, but you would finish a lot quicker.
Once you have attained your BSN and have gotten some experience working as an RN (hopefully in labor and delivery or some sort of OB-GYN field) you would then start looking at taking the GREs, a test similar to the SATs, that are usually required to get into graduate schools. You can take classes to help you prepare for this test, and I do recommend doing so. You can also take this test more than once to improve your score, but why do that if you don’t have to?
You would then want to find a school that has a good midwife program. There are many schools that have excellent programs. You can tour some of the schools, and read their pamphlets to find out more about the school. You want a school that gives you plenty of clinical (in the field) experience. The program would probably take between 3-5 years to complete, depending on if you are going part-time or full-time.