New nursing grad Linda Flynn with her husband and daughter.
Nursing. That was the second career for 53-year-old Linda Flynn, who had spent 20 years producing content for television and other mediums. “I wanted to make a change from the big-picture focus of content creation and production to [contributing] on a more individual level.”
It wasn’t as big of a shift as you’d think. When Flynn took care of a dear friend who needed someone to “project manage” her health care needs, Flynn tapped into her experiences as a health and human services volunteer. “I began to envision a role where I could use my skills in project management, collaboration, communication, and research to support people in times of health challenges,” she notes.
That’s sound logic, says Gregory Steenson, associate dean of admissions and market development at St. Catherine University. He suggests that students changing careers “look for academic programs that understand, respect, and engage with the work experiences of adult students.”
St. Kate’s did that for Flynn. But it wasn’t always easy. Because her undergraduate and master’s degrees were in liberal arts, Flynn had to first take a series of prerequisite classes part-time while her youngest child was still living at home. “Success in chemistry allowed me to take microbiology; success in microbiology allowed me to take physiology,” she says. Once accepted into nursing school, Flynn took a total of four years to complete the two-year program, and she passed her boards in June.
“A dear friend gave me early, good advice: focus on the journey, and the outcome will come. I believe that,” Flynn says.
If you want to change careers:
- Do your research. “Seek out the wisdom of people who have made the change you are seeking,” says Steenson. “Ask them what their work and career pathways are like.”
- “Don’t be afraid of failure,” Flynn says. “It may happen along the way, but just keep moving.”
- Carry your previous you with you. “The skills and experiences you developed over the years will be a significant and valuable part of the back-to-school journey and your new professional life,” Flynn says.