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The Path to Nursing for Teachers

Written by Kelli Dunham, RN, BSN
Kelli Dunham, RN, BSNKelli is an RN with 15 years of clinical nursing experience and the author of 4 health/health professions related books, including the American Journal of Nursing Nursing Book of the Year, How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Nursing School (FA Davis, 2008, 3rd edition).

Current teachers and education majors in search of job security and flexibility might consider pursuing a career in nursing. There are a few different paths that can lead to the initials “RN” after your name. The best path for you depends most on the schooling you have already completed and what programs are available in your area.

Accelerated BSN Programs

If you already have a bachelor’s degree or are very close to graduation, an accelerated BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) program may be right for you. Accelerated BSN programs are a relatively new type of nursing program, created for second career students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Most accelerated BSN programs require students to complete all of the prerequisite courses before starting the program (usually basic science sources, e.g. anatomy, physiology, chemistry and biology).

The majority of these programs require 12-15 months (year round) to complete and are very intense and time-consuming with classes six days a week. Some programs require students to refrain from taking outside employment while in the program. Even if the school doesn’t enforce a “school only” policy, it would be very difficult to complete an accelerated BSN program while teaching, especially if it is in your first few years. If you’re interested in these programs, you’ll probably need to secure enough loans or family support to be able to pay your bills without working.

Direct Entry MSN Programs

If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree with a non-nursing major and you would like to pursue an MSN degree (Masters of Science in Nursing), you may consider a Direct entry MSN program. An MSN degree is required to become an advanced practice nurse.

Graduates of direct entry MSN programs receive both a BSN degree and an MSN degree. First, you complete the requirements for the BSN and take your licensure exam. Once you receive your RN license, you proceed to the MSN part of the program. Direct entry MSN programs are not common, but if you’re sure you want to pursue an MSN they can save you a lot of time and money.

If you are interested in teaching nurses (i.e. becoming a “nurse educator”), a direct entry MSN program is one path to consider. You will want to seek part-time nursing employment while in school, because most university level nursing programs won’t employ an educator who doesn’t have some clinical experience in nursing.

Still Working on Your Bachelors Degree?

If you have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree in teaching and your university offers a BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing), you may want to simply switch to the BSN program. This will definitely not be the shortest path and you will undoubtedly lose a number of credits. However, if you are receiving federal student aid you might consider it your first choice. Once you have a bachelor’s degree you are no longer eligible for some sources of federal aid, like Pell Grants.

Most likely, you will be required to apply for admittance to the nursing program, because nursing programs often have more stringent requirements than general university admissions. It may be worth applying to another school that has a nursing program with a good reputation, both to see what kind of classes that accept for transfer and what kind of financial aid they offer.