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My goal is to get my bachelor’s degree, become an RN and then a nurse practitioner. What is the best way to accomplish these goals?

Monday August 12, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I want to pursue a nursing career. I have 60 hours of college credit in business, communications and management information systems courses. My goal is to get my bachelor’s degree, become an RN and then a nurse practitioner. I am a nontraditional student and went back to school to become an aesthetician. I graduated and realized I should have become a nurse. Could you recommend a school and do you know if I can get a bachelor’s degree in healthcare, then use that to become an RN? What is the best way to accomplish these goals?

Should Have Become a Nurse

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Should Have Become a Nurse,

You have three options: If you complete a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major, then you can look into an accelerated BSN program designed for those who already have a degree. These programs are typically 12-16 months in length and are very intensive.

Your second option would be to switch your major to nursing now, since you’re apparently only halfway through the undergraduate degree process, even if that involves changing schools. Obtain the BSN with a minor in business, if that is an option or get a double major that is not too involved.

Your third option would be to get into an entry-to-practice NP program, in which you graduate ready to sit for the NP licensing exam. In other words, your basic RN education and BSN coursework is included in your graduate work. This will take you longer and you may want to work and gain experience midway through the program. Some people enter nursing with the goal of becoming an NP, but discover that is not really what they want.

This may all sound confusing but it will start to make more sense once you explore these options. Start by contacting your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (go to www.nursingworld.org and click on “Find Your State”) and your state board of nursing (https://www.ncsbn.org/515.htm). Get a list of all accredited nursing programs in your state. Then request information from schools in your area that offer the various options. Consider the costs, overall length of program, the requirements (some accelerated programs don’t allow you to hold a job) and the class schedule (in case you need evening or weekend slots). Then choose a program that best meets your needs.

It sounds like your current plan will take a long time and a whole lot of course work to get you to where you want to be. If nursing is what you want to do, I don’t see any reason to complete a non-nursing degree program first. Consider the other options, discuss them with a trusted friend, family member or a guidance counselor, and after you get all the details, make your decision.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.Nurse.com/Events.