"I am about three quarters of the way through a major in biology, and I finally have figured out that I am interested in doing for a career. Unfortunately, I think I’m actually on the wrong track with my education. I am interested in nursing, but I don’t think that job even requires a B.S. Am I wasting my time if I finish up my degree? Or can I somehow become a nurse with my biology major? Do I need to complete a nursing school program or can I just take some exam and get accredited?"
Asked by Rory from Sacramento, CA on March 12, 2013
The reality is that you cannot learn everything you need to know to become a nurse from your biology major program alone, though you can build an excellent foundation. This is why you can’t simply take an exam and pass it and get a job in nursing. The problem is that you lack a lot of specific skills which you can only learn through a nursing program. You can’t do clinic hours as part of your biology program for example. Hands-on experience is really important. Plus, biology is just way too broad. While it forms the foundation for nursing, odds are you’ve spent a lot of time learning about all kinds of things which are completed unrelated to caring for patients.
I suggest you complete your biology major first, since you’re so close to getting a degree, and having a bachelor’s degree may help make you more competitive. It also can cut down the amount of time you’ll actually have to spend at nursing school. The biology courses which you’ve taken which can transfer will do so, giving you a number of credits toward your next degree. I’m guessing that by the time you graduate, you will probably have only a year of nursing school ahead of you, two at most. So that’s not too bad at all!
For others who are reading this who have not already started out (or are not so far along) on a major other than nursing, if you are thinking of going into this field, I strongly suggest you just go straight for a nursing degree. You probably only really need an associate’s degree in nursing to get a great job, especially if you’re willing to relocate. Nurses are needed literally everywhere, but many areas (rural areas in particular) are deprived.
There is so much opportunity in this field right now, and you have a great opportunity to make a lot of money with a relatively short educational track. If you’re well on your way to getting a degree in biology like Rory is, you’re still going to end up saving time and money on your nursing degree, which is great. If you’re worried about the cost of the extra education, look into a specialty which will allow you to command a higher salary, like working in the E.R. You can get a specialty like this one even with a two year degree in nursing.