I am an insurance adjuster interested in becoming a nurse. I am 42 years old, so my SATs from the 1990s are long expired (I think). What steps would I need to take to go to nursing school? Do I have to take SATs as an adult? Do I need to start a BA over again, or is it possible that some of my classes from my original BA (in business) will work for this? I'm just looking for a short instruction to get me started since I have no idea where to start.
Congratulations on your plans to earn a nursing degree. Heading back to school can be daunting for someone who hasn’t been in a classroom in decades, although 42 sure sounds young to “The Dean!” As you’ve noted, your SATs are no longer valid (they’re only good for five years) but you will not need to retake them because you already hold a bachelor’s degree (phew!). The fact that you have a B.A. also means that you don’t have to start from scratch. Many nursing schools have designed programs for students much like you -- those who initially pursued a different field but now want to change direction as adults.
You should be able to reach your goal in two to three years, depending on which route you decide to take and whether you have already completed any of the prerequisite classes. For instance, the University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League college with one of the most well regarded nursing schools in the country) is like many institutions that offer an accelerated nursing program for “second degree” students much like you. You can read about it here.
The shortest path to a nursing career will probably be through a community college or technical school that will lead to an ASN (Associate’s in Nursing) degree. With this degree you can work as a registered nurse but may find some limitations on salary and advancement options that won’t apply if you early a BSN (Bachelor’s in Nursing). But the flip side of this (although you may not be quite old enough to remember flip sides!), is that the ASN degree is probably cheaper than the BSN as well as faster.
The information you’ll find here should answer the rest of your questions more clearly than “The Dean” can and will also provide a state-by-state list of nursing schools. You don’t say in your query whether you are willing to relocate to attend school or if you would prefer to enroll near your current home, and the answer to this question could play a key role in which route to nursing you ultimately take.
If you do wish to remain close to home, then your next step should be to contact nursing programs within commuting distance to find out about entrance protocol and requirements. (Start with websites but don’t fear the phone or even an in-person meeting if the online information isn’t sufficient.) You are likely to learn that there are prerequisite classes that you can start right away that you will need to have under your belt before you begin your nursing program in earnest.
In fact, the ideal way to test the waters before committing fully to your career-change plans would be to enroll in a prerequisite course that you didn’t take previously (perhaps Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology or even General Chemistry ... if your last encounter with a Bunsen burner was in high school) at a community college so that you can shake off a few cobwebs and see how you like science classes.
If you like these classes and do well, then you’re already on your way to becoming a nurse. But if you discover that there’s a reason that you didn’t study science the first time around, then you might also consider a Masters in Social Work instead. The MSW is a very flexible degree that would enable you to work in a hospital if you so choose as well as in many other settings and to help a wide range of people, from infants to seniors, much as a nurse does.
Whatever you decide, you have lots of time ahead of you to enjoy your new career, and — if you no longer want to be an insurance adjuster — you’re very wise to make this personal “adjustment” now. Best of luck.
If you’d like to submit a question to College Confidential, please send it along here.