How to Put Your Biology Degree to Work in Nursing: Frequently Asked Questions

nursing career for people with biology degreeIf you already have a background in biology but don’t feel sure it’s the right career path for you, you’re not alone. Science majors who decide against the med school or research routes often find it difficult to translate their interests into a career. Some people may pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology but find that it’s not quite what they want. If this sounds familiar, nursing might be the solution you’ve been seeking.

Q: Why should I consider a career in nursing?

A: In the ever-evolving health care landscape, one thing is not changing: the increasing demand for nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections, registered nursing is the top occupation in terms of expected job growth through 2020, and there is a large shortfall predicted between demand and supply. In the August 2009 issue of Health Affairs, Dr. Peter Buerhaus and coauthors projected the U.S. nursing shortage will grow to more than 260,000 by 2025— twice as large as any U.S. nursing shortage since the mid-1960s. Moreover, nursing as a profession consistently ranks at or near the top in terms of earnings potential. The current national median wage for RNs sits at $65,470 (BLS, May 2012).

Q: How does an existing background in biology help me?

A: All nurses are not the same. A growing body of research shows that nurses with baccalaureate-level preparation (BSN degrees) are linked to better patient outcomes. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has called for 80% of the nursing workforce to hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020. This is good news for those with an existing collegiate education in other fields because they may be eligible for fast-track BSN programs like the Roseman University Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, which prepares students in any field to become RNs in less than 18 months, even if they haven’t completed a bachelor’s degree.

Q: Why is my biology background an asset, in particular?

A: Accelerated BSN programs typically require the completion of nursing prerequisites prior to admission, and many of these are courses that science majors have already taken. In fact, biology is the most common undergraduate major of students in our Las Vegas ABSN program. These students can often start the program more quickly than their peers because they have fewer prereqs to complete. Just as importantly, students coming into nursing from a science background already have experience applying disciplined problem-solving techniques—one of the most critical skills needed for success as a nurse.

Q: Why not just apply to med school or become a physician’s assistant?

A: Those motivated by the chance to make a difference in patients’ lives find they have more meaningful contact with patients as nurses than doctors or PAs. It’s usually the nurse who makes the biggest impression on the patient and his/her family and who helps address a patient’s emotional and physical needs. Compared to physician’s assistants, advanced practice nurses often have a broader scope of practice as well. For instance, nurse practitioners can prescribe many common medications, whereas PA job duties still vary widely by state. And, with the rise of accelerated BSN programs that combine online courses with hands-on clinical work and patient care, the route to becoming a registered nurse is much faster (and less expensive) than the route to becoming a doctor.

Q: So how do I get started?

A: If you’re interested in leveraging your biology background into a nursing degree in less than 18 months through the Roseman ABSN program, just call 877.885.8399 to speak with one of our admissions advisors. Our advisors are prepared to answer all your questions about program requirements, application process, prerequisites and timing.

To learn more about Roseman’s admissions process before you call, download our ABSN roadmap today.

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