As the push for nurses with four-year degrees gains momentum, healthcare professionals of all ages are considering nursing school. If you are starting out in your career, pursuing a bachelor’s of science in nursing may make sense. But if you’re later in your career, with a family and a mortgage, do the financial and career rewards justify the time and effort?
“It really does depend on the individual and how much longer they intend to practice,” said Rita Frantz, a registered nurse and a professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing.
In 2010, The Institute of Medicine called for 80 percent of nurses to have a four-year degree by 2020, citing better patient outcomes. Roughly half of nurses have baccalaureate degrees today. As employers seek nurses with more education, job security, prospects and advancement potential is rising for those with a four-year degree, and in some cases it may even be a liability not to have a four-year degree.
“The hospitals are making edicts,” said Karen Goldschmidt, department chair of Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. “If you want to keep your job here, you need to get your bachelor’s degree.”
While financial considerations and job security are usually the main considerations, often overlooked is the transformative experience that education can have on you and your career. “The education opens up doors for them that they couldn’t even imagine before,” added Goldschmidt. Whether you are a seasoned nurse or considering entering the field, going to nursing school requires a commitment, but the rewards will be there at any age.