Friday, December 27, 2013

Anatomy and Physiology I (now the real fun begins!)

Recently I completed developmental psychology (my second completed prerequisite course) and I am happy to report that I got an 'A'! I certainly am on the right track but developmental psychology is still, for lack of a better phrase, not a "hard" science like Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, or Chemistry, which are the bulk of my prerequisite courses. I of course took life sciences in the past; I am even a little familiar with anatomy and physiology from my CNA training back in high school and I recall enjoying the subject material but that was well over 15 years ago and I did not get an 'A' in that course (I believe it was B+) or in any other life science course for that matter. To even be considered for admission to any nursing program I should be getting 'A's in the majority (if not all) of my courses. I was also a science major with my first undergraduate degree (computer science) but rarely got an 'A' in my courses (in my defense my major courses were primarily boring). I am certainly one for a challenge (I even secretly like them at times) but I am nervous about my potential performance in Anatomy and Physiology I especially since its all online. I do not have the luxury, time, or money to repeat any of my courses and many nursing programs, include those I am interested in, will not accept repeated science courses.  As the precursor to all of the other sciences I have remaining, this course could essentially make or break me! I am a better student now in my 30s than I was in my late teens or early 20s but I have a pretty busy life and the occasional attention span of a peanut. And although I generally work well under pressure I am a ticking time bomb on the rare occasion I become overwhelmed. Am I being a little dramatic? Probably. But the competition is fierce and in the Spring 2014 semester I will truly have to bring my 'A' game.

Accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

If you have been reading this blog, you will know that at some point in the near future my hope is, God willing, to be accepted into an accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program so that I can become a second career registered nurse. What you may not know however is why I chose this option or what an accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN) is (unless you have done your own research). I have already done a lot of the research so I figure I'd just pass a bit of the knowledge on? Here I go...

Difference between traditional Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) versus accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

Both the BSN and ABSN are bachelors degree programs in nursing that allows graduates to meet the same state licensing requirements for one to become registered nurses. In fact the course work, at least from what I have seen, is virtually the same. The difference in the two programs is the manner in which the programs are delivered, where the accelerated programs are completed at a faster (accelerated) rate than the traditional programs. The nursing portion (usually junior and senior year) of most traditional BSN programs is completed in two (or more) years whereas most ABSN programs are completed anywhere from 12 to 18 months on average. Students in accelerated programs are also required to have bachelors degrees in a non-nursing major prior to admission. Lastly, most traditional BSN programs have break or recess during the summer and winter months but ABSN programs usually offer courses year round, including the summer and winter. This means that a student in an accelerated program will basically have no life and working full-time would be extremely difficult if not nearly impossible but students finish a lot sooner and hence get into the workforce faster.

The reason I chose to pursue a second career in nursing via an ABSN program is that I want to finish my second degree as quickly as possible since I am considered an "adult" student and being unemployed or underemployed for several years to pursue another degree is simply not a practical option for me right now. Also if I decide to go further with my nursing education (i.e. masters degree) completing my nursing education through another option (traditional BSN, RN to BSN after competing associates program, etc.) would mean an average matriculation time of 4-6 years and I am not getting any younger. Besides I don't think I have the patience to sit in class all day for two or more years taking general education classes I don't need with a bunch of "kids." No disrespect to my younger college students as I was once there myself but I am in a difference place in my life now and would prefer to matriculate with other students (aka "grown" folks) that I could identify with and vice versa.

Accelerated Bachelors of Nursing Programs in New York City (NYC) and Long Island

NYC and Long Island have an abundance of nursing programs but only a handful of ABSN programs to date. Here is a list of the accelerated BSN programs in NYC and Long Island (not sure if this list is all inclusive but I will do my best to ensure all programs in the regions are listed):

Adelphi University (may be the best commute for me but not the best tuition)
CUNY Hunter College (was one of my choices as well until I saw requirements. Still a top program though)
CUNY Lehman College (currently my first choice program)
Long Island University-LIU
Molloy College (this is a "slightly" accelerated dual degree program that includes a Masters component)
Monroe College
New York University-NYU
Pace University
SUNY Downstate Medical Center (currently my second choice program)
SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital (was my third choice but commute would be a killer)

There are also several ABSN programs in nearby New York counties not included in the list above but I didn't really investigate those programs since I was not interested in them personally but I still may include them in the future so that I can have a more well-rounded list.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CNA training revisited

I had considered taking a CNA (certified nurse assistant) course after completing my prerequisites and before entering nursing school but decided against it because I knew that CNA training would be more money to spend (and I am already stretched paying for my prerequisite courses). In some cases hospitals hire nursing students as nurse aides, student aides, etc. upon completion of the first semester of clinicals so I also felt CNA training would also be an unnecessary expense. Over the past few weeks however, I have reconsidered the idea completing CNA training, despite suggestions that I don't (I posted a question on allnurses.com). Why? Its simple. I need to make myself as competitive as possible and having just clinical experience without a CNA license may allow me to apply to a lot more nurse aide or similar positions but not all since some specify the CNA license. Also my BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) programs of interest are accelerated ones, specifically CUNY Lehman College ABSN (accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing) program and SUNY Downstate Medical ABSN program, which are respectively 12 and 15 months long. It could take a couple of months to find a part-time or per-diem position (given the current job market) and if I wait until I finish my first semester before applying, I would essentially be almost half way through the program before getting a job! If I have my CNA license prior to entering a ABSN program or at least am eligible to sit for the exam, I would not have to wait so long to start looking for jobs. A second career in nursing, or a second career period is an investment of time and money and if its something I truly want (and I think I do) I have to do whatever it takes to increase the likelihood of success. Now if I could just figure out where, when, and how I am going to complete a CNA program...      

Now I need a transcript?

The other day I tried to register for Anatomy and Physiology I for the Spring 2014 semester through Cayuga Community College online campus (this would be the third online course  I take through Cayuga) and I received an error stating that a prerequisite is needed first. I had this issue before so I emailed the registrar to help me register for the course (they actually did it for me a few months ago for the Fall 2013 semester but I dropped the course before the first day so that I could take just Developmental Psychology only). Needless to say I was surprised to get a reply that the school needed a copy of my transcript? Now I took biology in both high school and college during freshman year so that should qualify me for waiver of Biology 101 but I took these courses well over 10 years ago. This is such an inconvenience since I have to wait until I get a copy of my college transcript (I have no idea how to get my high school one since the school no longer exist as I knew it) before I can proceed which could take up to a week or more because of the time I matriculated. Now had I been told this months ago, I would have submitted a transcript and could have dealt with things accordingly. The online section of Anatomy and Physiology at Cayuga fill up pretty quickly so I fear that by the time I get my transcript for submission, all of the sections I want to register for will no longer be available, which may put me back some on my timeline. Sigh. A part of this is my fault for not being more on top of things but I figured being non-matriculated it wouldn't be a problem. It's also the schools fault though because they allowed me to register the first time. I really don't want to take Biology 101 and I hope that I won't have to take it. I already have to complete a total of 7 courses and cannot afford to take another one.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

MSN after BSN?

I really dislike the fact that I have to take a bunch of prerequisite courses in order to qualify for another Bachelors degree. I really do. I always thought I would go for my masters degree at some point in my career but direct MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) programs don't seem to be widely available in my area and the few that are still require completion of a BSN (Bachelors of Nursing) at some point in the program. That may be financially difficult since I would be out of work for a much longer time possibly. A MSN is certainly a consideration but what would I do with it? For social work, a MSW (Masters in Social Work) is required for licensure so getting a MSW would be essential to be a social worker but nursing? Not so much. Many positions for RNs (registered nurses) are for BSN graduates but a two year degree is still all that is necessary to obtain licensure. That being said my ambition would probably get the best of me and I would eventually get restless at the BSN level. APRN (advanced practice registered nurse) such as nurse practitioner is an option but so many registered nurses go that route so it seems a bit too common but I do like the idea of performing "MD functions" like diagnosing and prescribing medications without going the MD route. As a nurse practitioner I would also still have a great deal of patient contact/interaction which I like, although I understand it's different than that of an RN.  I would like to have a few years RN experience before being a nurse practitioner though as it doesn't make sense to me to be a APRN without being, quite frankly, a nurse first. Nurse educator also sounds kind of appealing since I always envisioned myself as a educator or trainer in some way but I have no idea what job prospects are like. There is also nursing administration but I don't know if I would like administration in any field but I am a supervisor in my current field so it may not be as far fetched as I think. Then there are CNS (clinical nurse specialists) but I really am just not sure what they do exactly to be honest. I guess I should check on Indeed to see what types of jobs are available for masters level nurses. Although it is hard to say what the future holds for me it is kind of exciting thinking about all of the possibilities of a potential career in nursing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Job prospects for registered nurses

Job prospects for new RN (registered nurses) is a real concern for me. I remember graduating with my BS the first time and how hard of time it was for me to find a job related to my degree; ultimately I am glad I do not work in IT (information technology) since I do not feel I had a passion for it anyway (although my salary would have been better than it is now) but what is going to happen if I go to nursing school and become an RN? It is hard for college grads now and although I know I have a great deal of transferable skills and experiences that would make me a great nurse, I currently have no nursing or direct healthcare experience. I certainly plan to have some entry level healthcare experience during, after and even before nursing school (outside of clinicals) but it won't be RN experience. It's bad enough I won't be working (at least not full-time) if I go to nursing school for a year or more; I'd have to add at least another 6 months of not working for anticipated job searching. Not my idea of a good time but I really am going to have to hustle because returning to previous employment, once I have left, is probably not going to be an option.

The pre-nursing student 4.0 Challenge

Now that I see the competitiveness of BSN (Bachelors of Nursing) and particularly ABSN (Accelerated Bachelors of Nursing) programs, I have presented myself with what's call the 4.0 challenge. What's the 4.0 challenge? Quite simply, my goal is to have a 4.0 in all of my prerequisite classes include the sciences (which are the majority of my classes). I have always been a fairly good student throughout my academic career but I highly doubt that the overall GPA of 3.2 from my previous degree would make me a competitive applicant for nursing school. Fortunately my school(s) of interest place a great deal of emphasis on prerequisite grades (in addition to entry exams).

So how do I propose to conquer this 4.0 challenge? Obviously studying or doing academic related work on a daily basis (readings, assignments, etc.) would definitely help as well as effective time management but that is easier said than done. I remember when I completed my first undergraduate degree I had a similar challenge as well but by the beginning of my third year, my main goal was no longer "4.0" but passing so I could graduate and leave school. School was intense at the time particularly since I completed a relatively hard major (computer science) and I worked anywhere from 20-25 hours a week while being a full-time student. Now it seems harder, not so much because of the material, but because I find it hard to stay motivated. Last week I had a bad cold that kept me out of commission for a couple days; another time, my youngest child had a hard time sleeping which in turn kept me up all night. I tend to be cranky when I am sleep deprived for an extended period of time, and I miss the leisure time I had after 9 pm in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed (now I generally do my studying or assignments around that time or on the weekends). My current position doesn't require me to work overtime, but sometimes I do work overtime occasionally. There are other issues making the 4.0 GPA difficult to obtain but I am just going to have to find a way to keep pressing on. I am generally not a quitter so it makes no sense in becoming one now.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Take two

I am now back on board with my pre-nursing courses and have registered for the second required course, developmental psychology. When I started my BSN journey previously, their were several ABSN (accelerated bachelors of nursing) programs that I considered, including SUNY Downstate, CUNY Hunter, and SUNY Stonybrook. Now I have decided that CUNY Lehman's accelerated BSN program would be my first choice, with SUNY Downstate being my second choice if I am not accepted into Lehman. So not only did I make the decision to follow through with nursing but I have even narrowed down my choices of schools! Most of the 7 courses that I would be required to take prior to entry would be completed online which is not the most ideal due to the number of science courses I have to take but this is the most convenient option for me at this time. The HESI A2 nursing school entrance exam is also required.

I have also decided that a course in Phlebotomy would also be useful prior to entry since my understanding is that many nursing programs don't teach Phlebotomy and I want to do all that I can to stay competitive. I had initially considered a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) course but I realized that I'd qualify for entry level positions once I complete one semester of nursing school and I am already somewhat familiar with basic nursing skills since I already took a CNA course in high school. There is definitely no guarantee that everything will go as planned (especially since I am essentially putting all my eggs into one basket) but at least now my goals are a little clearer








 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Changed my mind, again

(Original post from http://gettingmymsw.blogspot.com/)

I have once again changed my mind and decided that a second BSN (Bachelors of Nursing) degree would be the best option for me. I am not surprised I have changed my mind since I have flip-flopped with my decision regarding my future career and schooling for years now. I pray that my indecisiveness will end soon but in the meantime I will be going forward towards a career change in the nursing field. I didn't call it a journey for nothing!

For some reason, I cannot leave nursing alone. Is that a sign? Perhaps. But that doesn't dismiss the fact that I will be presented with a whole set of obstacles that I must overcome before I could become a registered nurse, despite my "calling" into the career.

The search begins

(Original post from http://gettingmymsw.blogspot.com/)

So now that I have decided to go back to school to finish my master's degree in social work, what school do I attend? Initially when I started the MSW (Master of Social Work) program nearly two years ago, I did an online program at the University of New England (UNE) which was great because of the convenience but the cost of the program, not to mention personal issues I was going through at the time, caused me to withdraw from the program. I actually have 12 credits and returning to UNE would be beneficial because my credits would transfer with no problems; however with the current tuition at over $800/credit and the nearly 20 hour/week required for the internship component of the program, I am skeptical about going back to the program without significant financial, professional, and emotional support.

On campus programs

There are variety of on campus MSW programs in my area, including New York University, Hunter College, and Adelphi University but all programs (with the exception of the public universities) are very expensive! Even if expense wasn't an issue, it would be extremely difficult and close to impossible for me to go to classes in the evening and/or Saturdays because I would never know if my husband is working or not, leaving me without someone to look after our children. Traveling to classes from work would also be difficult (with the exception of Adelphi). Graduate school is hard enough as it is. The last thing I need to worry about is whether or not I have to miss class because no one can watch my children or being late to class because I got stuck in rush hour traffic. Weekend childcare could be an option but I already pay enough for childcare during the week.

My choice: an online MSW program

Due to its convenience, an online MSW program is ideal for me and I am probably going to go that route again if and when I decide to return to school. The good news is more and more reputable colleges and universities are adding online components to already established MSW programs. In fact from the time I withdrew from UNE until now the number of accredited online and distance learning MSW programs has probably doubled! Now if only I could find a school that not going to put me in debt for the rest of my life...

Return to MSW

(Original post from http://gettingmymsw.blogspot.com/)

I have recently decided to forgo my decision to change careers to nursing and stick with my previous plan of getting an MSW (Masters of Social Work) degree which would be an expansion of my current job. Although I had some reservation about going into nursing for a variety of reasons, I have my reservation about formal social work as well but hopefully the positives of pursing a MSW degree will far outweigh the negatives. I just hope I don't change my mind yet again and just stick to one plan.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bye to a possible nursing career

After much dilemma, I have decided against a second career in nursing. Although I do not doubt I could have excelled in the field both academically and professionally (actually received an A in my first pre-requisite class), I do not believe, at least not at this time, that nursing would be a good career for me. Nursing is a great field and perhaps if my circumstances were different I would have still went along with my plans but they are not and that is OK. Although I am still relatively young, I am not in my 20s and I have a lot of responsibilities at this time that would make pursuing a career like nursing not very practical. A great deal of sacrifice would be needed for me to pursue a nursing career at this point in my life and although the salary potential would have been good, I could possible lose others benefits that are not based on salary, including stable childcare, predictable work schedule, and a pension. These are not things that I can take likely and being home with my children every weekend and on every major holiday is something no money can replace. The job market right now is tough and the nursing field is extremely competitive right now. I like the idea of being a nurse but I cannot say for sure if I have a passion for it (and passion is needed to get through nursing school!).

My plans now are to go back to my original career goal of getting my MSW (Masters of Social Work) degree and possible work in the areas of health and mental health. Despite the relative low salary of a LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker) initially, my salary should increase after a few years. I may even pair my MSW with an MPA (Masters of Public Administration) degree but that may be a bit ambitious at this time. Regardless of what I decide to do, I have to do what is comfortable for me and my family and not just something that everyone else is doing or for the sake of money. I already made that mistake with my first degree so now its time to try something different.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

No nights or weekends please

It may be premature but I began looking at job postings for registered nurses. Would you believe that roughly 50% of the jobs on Indeed and on various hospital websites show job openings for evening and/or night shifts? There are also quite a view openings with variable shifts. Almost all hospital jobs or staff nurses requires some working on the weekends. This would be problematic. My husband already works a variable shift in his line of work and could either work day or night at any given moment (not to mention he usually works on Saturdays and does the occasional double shift). How does that work with 3 young children? Working full-time with children is never easy for a mother but at least its helpful when there is relatively stable childcare in place. My husband tells me not to worry about it but I feel he is being unrealistic about our future childcare issues and is only thinking about the potential income I could make as an RN (registered nurse). More money is good and all but what good is it if my children rarely sees either of their parents because they are always working crazy schedules? I looked into nannies but I am not comfortable with the idea of someone sleeping in my home overnight that I am not familiar with. No one can "force" me to work nights or weekends but pursuing a 24 hour occupation and not being flexible with the shifts could make the job searching process extremely difficult once the time comes. There are definitely nurse positions which do not require nights or weekends but many require a certain amount of experience, in addition to a BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) degree and certifications. The job market for nurses, like most occupations, is very difficult and although my goal is to be as flexible as I can, I know that my limitations may be a hindrance to finding employment. Whatever happens I need to make sure I am able to maintain the work and life balance I so desperately need.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

BSN or MSW?

For the past year or so I have contemplated whether or not I should get an MSW (Masters of Social Work) degree or a BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) degree. You would think that a Masters degree in anything would be better than a Bachelors in anything but unfortunately that is not the case. Here's why in my situation:

  1. Getting a Masters degree in Social Work may not allow me to have a significant increase in my salary unless I work in the areas of administration, which I am not sure I want to do.
  2. I will probably have more job opportunities and greater job flexibility with a Nursing degree, particularly if I work in a healthcare and/or public health setting, which is what I have a current interest in.
  3. The average RN (registered nurse) makes at least $10,000 more per year than my current job as well as more than many LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker) positions in my area. This does not include overtime and/or differential. Many private hospitals pay more.
  4. The amount of loans I would have to incur in a MSW program would be significantly higher than if I were to get a BSN, even if I went to a public university or college. This is hard to swallow when I realize that my salary, at least initially, would not change a great deal at all.
  5. There are more nursing jobs available than there are social work jobs and social work jobs are generally budget dependent regardless of how essential social work jobs are. In the medical/health setting many "social work" functions are performed by experienced RN (registered nurses) with case management experience.  
  6. I like the idea of counseling others and helping them to access resources or dealing with social problems but I wonder how long I could do a job like that without getting burned out from frustrations related to limited resources, excessive paperwork, non-compliance, etc.

All of that being said, an MSW would still allow for greater career flexibility than I have now (I would be able to work for different agencies and/or in a different setting) and I would be able to pursue my degree on a part-time basis without having to quit my job since its occupational related. LMSW (Licensed Masters Social Workers) generally have better work schedules than RNs and even though social work can be stressful, nursing has many of same issues as well so I would not necessarily have an easier time in the field. And even though the initial salary for a LMSW is a bit dismal, with significant experience and/or administrative skills, the salary would be almost comparable to that of an RN without all the "dirty work" (although social work has its own set of stresses especially in the areas of management). I had hope to resolve the "MSW vs. RN" internal debate at this point but I think I am more confused than ever! In a few weeks I take my second prerequisite class for nursing school and I hope I do not waste a lot of time, energy, and money on something that I should not be doing.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

3 years

At the rate of three courses per year, I estimate it will take me roughly 3 years before I complete all the pre-requsities necessary to qualify for nursing school. Below are a list f the courses I have to take:
Intro to Psychology
Developmental Psychology
Anatomy & Physiology 1
Anatomy & Physiology 2
Microbiology
Chemistry 1
Organic Chemistry 1 (depends on school)
Sociology 1 (depends on school)

A few schools wanted even more courses prior to admission; needless to say I am no longer interested in applying to this schools. Initially I wanted to do 4 courses per year to speed up the process but that would mean 2 courses during the summer and since the majority of the courses I need are science courses I think that would be a bit of an overkill for me (especially since I am taking the vast majority of my pre-requisites online). I also would like to take a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) course at some point so that I could eventually gain entry-level experience in a health care setting, either before I start nursing school or concurrently with school. In addition to the above estimated timeline, I figure depending on which route I take to my second bachelor's in nursing, it could take me an addition 1 to 4 years to get my BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing), 1 year being the minimum time in an accelerated BSN program, 2 years in a traditional BSN program, and 4 years in an associates RN program (in which I would eventually go into an RN to BSN program). Regardless of the route I take, keeping my current position does not look like it would be an option for me. Assuming I get into some type of nursing program the first or second time applying, I will become an RN in my late 30's or early 40's which isn't that bad I guess but I definitely wouldn't be a spring chicken either. It's a little discouraging, especially since I am doing all this for a second bachelor's as opposed to a masters degree. Switching careers is certainly not easy, especially when you are somewhat already established in another field and can't go a long period of time without some sort of income coming in. I swear I would hate to go through all this and realize I don't even like nursing. I would be truly be pissed at that point.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Is it nursing school or medical school?

I have always know that nursing school was competitive but from what I have read from allnurses.com, the competition is down right fierce! Most schools I have reviewed request a minimum GPA of 3.0 in addition to high TEAS V or NLN scores but it seems like the minimum GPA for most accepted students is 3.5 and higher (and this includes 2 year programs). My overall GPA of 3.2 was not an issue in getting accepted into a Masters of Social Work program but it may not be enough for an Associates or Bachelors of Nursing program? I guess its because everybody and their 3rd cousin wants to be a nurse now. To make it worst, I am primarily interested in programs from public universities just like the rest of the world. I just can't justify racking up 60-80 K in debt to be a registered nurse, I don't care how bad I want it! School loans I can do but I am not interested in paying off loans for the next 50 years. If I must go private, a huge (and I do mean HUGE) portion of my tuition would have to be paid by some other means like scholarships or something similar. Its times like these I wish I had majored in nursing the first time around, or at least chose a major that I had more interest in so that I would have done better. Oh well. All I can do is just try get A's in my pre-requisites so that I can at least be a contender. If that doesn't work, maybe I could just apply to Harvard Med School just for the hell of it.

Is this a mistake?

A little over a year ago I decided to take the leap and make the switch to a career in nursing. I have considered a nursing career on and off for years but it never seemed like the right time for a variety of reasons. Now that I am a "pre-nursing" student I am constantly wondering, am I making the right choice? After all I am not a displaced or unemployed worker with "nothing to lose." I have a decent paying job (although it probably isn't enough by New York City standards), with good benefits and this is certainly not the economy to leave your job if you have one. I looked into all possible options for nursing school, from accelerated bachelors of nursing (BSN) to associate degree programs (I already have a bachelors in a non-nursing field) and all options would make it almost impossible to pursue a degree with a full-time, Monday through Friday, 9-5 type of job. I also considered evening programs but nursing courses isn't like your typical 3 credit course where you can take once or twice a week. I would have to work my normal hours then go to school and/or clinical for roughly 5-6 hours in the evening which would be fine if I had no life (or didn't care to have one for a couple of years) but I have 3 children and a husband who I would like to see sometimes. Besides childcare would be another issue and I already pay enough as it is (assuming I could find suitable night time care). Sure nursing pays more than my current job (even at the masters level in some cases) and I would definitely have more job mobility and flexibility but jobs are not readily available as they once were. It's a big risk I am taking and it makes me extremely uncomfortable and anxious. I honestly wish I could just drop this whole nursing thing but my fear is if I do not take this chance now I will regret it for the rest of my life. Besides, I am not getting any younger...