Should I Return to Nursing School?

picture of two student nurses working together
Written by
Calvin Henninger
August 10, 2023

For many individuals, the idea of returning to nursing school after working as a nursing professional for some time can be both exciting and daunting. That decision is certainly a significant one and requires a clear-eyed look at your current situation, as well as an understanding of your aspirations for the future. 

Table of Contents

This article aims to provide insights into the decision-making process for nurses contemplating the idea of returning to nursing school. We’ll explore the reasons to become a nurse, the benefits of going back to nursing school, and the various paths available for advancing one's nursing education.

Should I Go Back to Nursing School?

The decision to return to nursing school is deeply personal and should be based on a combination of individual aspirations, professional goals, and practical considerations. If you're currently a working nurse and contemplating the idea of going back to school to further your education in the field, there are several important factors to weigh.

Why Should I Become a Nurse?

Before delving into the decision to return to nursing school, it's crucial to revisit the reasons you chose to become a nurse in the first place. 

Nursing is a profession that offers a unique blend of compassion, critical thinking, and hands-on skills. Nurses play an integral role in healthcare, providing direct patient care, advocating for patients' needs, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive and holistic treatment.

Some of the key reasons you may have been initially drawn to nursing include:

Passion for Patient Care

If you have a genuine passion for helping and caring for others during their most vulnerable times, nursing provides an ideal avenue to channel that passion.

Diverse Opportunities 

Nursing is a versatile field with a wide range of specialties and settings. Whether you're interested in pediatrics, geriatrics, critical care, or community health, nursing offers opportunities to explore various areas.

Job Stability and Demand

The demand for qualified nurses continues to be strong, making nursing a stable and recession-resistant career choice.

Personal Fulfillment

The feeling of making a positive impact on patients' lives can be immensely fulfilling. Knowing that you've made a difference in someone's health journey is a rewarding aspect of nursing.

Continuous Learning

Medicine and healthcare practices are constantly evolving. Nursing allows you to engage in lifelong learning and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field.

Should I Go to Nursing School?

Once you've reaffirmed your passion for nursing, it's time to assess whether going back to nursing school is the right step for your career progression. This decision hinges on several factors, including your current level of education, career goals, and the specific nursing programs available to you.

The Path from LPN to RN

If you are currently a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and are considering advancing your career, pursuing a Registered Nurse (RN) license might be a logical step. Many LPNs opt to bridge the gap to becoming an RN through various educational pathways. Becoming an RN can significantly expand your scope of practice, responsibilities, and potential for career advancement.

There are several routes to becoming an RN from an LPN:

LPN-to-RN Programs

Many nursing schools offer specialized programs designed for LPNs who want to become RNs. These programs typically provide credit for prior nursing coursework and experience, accelerating the transition.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Pursuing an ADN allows LPNs to earn an associate degree, which qualifies them to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and become registered nurses.

Online and Part-Time Options

Many nursing schools offer flexible scheduling options, including online courses and part-time programs, to accommodate working LPNs who want to continue working while pursuing their RN degree.

Obtaining a BSN in Nursing

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the importance of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Many healthcare organizations now prefer or even require their nurses to hold a BSN due to the expanded skill set and comprehensive education it provides.

Returning to nursing school to obtain a BSN offers several advantages:

To start, many leadership and specialized nursing roles require a BSN. If you aspire to move into management, administration, research, or specialized clinical positions, a BSN is often a prerequisite.

In addition, a BSN is a great way to boost your potential earnings as a nurse. On average, nurses with a BSN tend to earn higher salaries compared to those with an associate degree. Investing in a BSN can lead to improved long-term earning potential.

BSN programs also delve deeper into critical thinking, research, and evidence-based practice. This advanced knowledge equips you to provide higher-quality care and be a more informed advocate for patients. In turn, these skills can open additional doors, giving you a better chance at advancing your career in a given facility.

Finally, if you're considering pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in the future, having a BSN is usually a prerequisite for these advanced degrees. Getting a BSN now can save you time, money, and energy if you’re hoping to get an advanced degree in the future.

Advancing an ADN Degree

For nurses who hold an ADN, going back to nursing school to advance their education is another viable option. Pursuing a higher degree, such as a BSN or even an MSN, can open doors to new career paths and further specialization. Many universities offer flexible programs tailored to the needs of working nurses, making it possible to balance work and education.

Advancing your ADN degree comes with several significant benefits.

Higher degrees allow you to specialize in areas like critical care, oncology, pediatrics, or nurse education. This expertise can make you a sought-after professional in your chosen field and provide long-term job security, whether working as a per-diem or staff professional.

In addition, advanced degrees provide an excellent bridge into hospital leadership roles, enabling you to take on managerial or administrative positions with all the added responsibility (and compensation!) that comes with those advanced roles.

Building a Sustainable Career in Nursing

In the nursing journey, the decision to return to nursing school is a significant one that requires thoughtful consideration of your personal and professional goals. 

Whether you're an LPN looking to become an RN, an RN aiming for a BSN, or an ADN nurse aspiring for specialization, returning to nursing school can open doors to new opportunities, enhanced skills, and a deeper understanding of healthcare.

Regardless of the path you choose, investing in your education is an investment in your future as a skilled and compassionate healthcare professional. Apps like Nursa are a great way to continue picking up shifts, whether working part-time while attending school or planning to build your career without going back at all!

If you’re still not sure whether you should continue your education, read this article that includes reasons to continue your nursing education.

Calvin Henninger
Blog published on:
August 10, 2023

Calvin is a contributing copywriter at Nursa who specializes in nursing content centered around healthcare technology for both facilities and clinicians, medical terminology, and current events.

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