Saturday, April 20, 2013


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
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, 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...