Psychology majors in search of job security and flexibility that will make good use of their knowledge and caring 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 what kind of education you've already completed and what programs are available in your area.
First Degree BSN
If you have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and your university offers a BSN, you may want to consider simply switching majors within your school to complete a BSN. This may not always be the shortest path, but if you are receiving federal student aid you might consider it your first choice, since once you have a bachelor’s degree you no longer eligible for aid like Pell Grants.
You will probably be required to re-apply for admittance into the specific nursing program, since nursing programs often have more stringent requirements than general university admissions. It may be worth applying to another nearby 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.
- View Online RN to BSN Programs
- View RN to BSN Programs
- View Four Year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs
Accelerated Undergraduate BSN Programs
If you already have a bachelor’s degree or are very close to graduation, an accelerated BSN program may be right for you. Accelerated BSN programs are a relatively new type of program, created for second career students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Most of these programs require students to have already completed all the prerequisite classes (usually basic sciences such an anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biology) before they begin the program.
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.
While these programs can be very effective for the adult learner, many of these programs have sprouted up very quickly and the quality of education varies widely. Make sure you pick a program that has been open for more than a few years and inquire about the NCLEX pass rate. You should also ask to speak to one of their working graduates about how they felt their education prepared them for the day to day responsibilities of their nursing position.
Because of the shortage of clinical sites and scheduling complexities, the clinical component of many of these programs takes place mostly during second or third shift or on weekends. While this can still be a valuable clinical experience, ask if any of your rotations will take place during the busier times at the hospital. There are certain procedures and certain skills (such as learning to talk to doctors) that are hard to practice any time other than first shift on weekdays.
BA/MA to MSN
If you’ve already completed your bachelor’s degree and are interested in getting an MSN to become a psych nurse practitioner, this type of program might be the most efficient for you. Most of these programs hold as an admission requirement a record of previous experience in a clinical capacity, such as working as a social worker or therapist.
Once you complete the requirements for the BSN part of the program you take the licensure exam and then continue on (hopefully seamlessly) to the rest of the program. These 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.