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racer1986

Speech language pathology or nursing

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Hey, everyone, I know this message board is full of questions similar to mine, but I was hoping some of you would be kind enough to give some feedback on my particular situation.

 

I'm a 28-year-old married guy looking at changing careers and both of these options seem attractive to me. I majored in journalism in college, worked at a newspaper for several years and loved it but left because of the pay, lack of prospects in the industry and general decline of the profession. I now work at a desk job that I just can't see myself doing much longer, so I began looking at options. 

 

These are my requirements for things I would want in a new career:

1. I want to work around people and help them. This is the aspect I loved most about journalism and the thing I miss in my current job.

 

2. If I'm going to change careers, I'd want to be able to earn enough money so that my wife could stay home with our children during their pre-school years (I believe this would be possible with SLP or nursing, something I never even considered as a possibility in journalism). 

 

3. I'm willing to go back to school, but not for more than two or three years. I'd prefer not to be in school deep into my 30s. The plan would be for me to quit my job and focus fully on whichever program I end up entering. My wife is a teacher and would support us during that stretch of time (God bless her). 

 

Other than those requirements, I've pretty much left myself open to any and all possibilities, but have found myself zeroing in on healthcare, and these two options in particular because they seem to fit well and I know some folks in each field who all love their jobs.

 

As far as SLP goes, I have serious concerns about my ability to get into a Master's program. Due in part to working full time through my senior year of college, I finished undergrad with a 3.39 GPA and due to my degree being in journalism, I'd need to spend a full year taking pre-reqs. I also have zero relevant experience, although I guess the fact that I have been gainfully employed in the "real world" for the last six years might count for something (maybe I'm stretching here?)

 

Another issue is that moving far away is not really a good option for us. We are happy where we live now and I'd not want to uproot my wife from her job. I have identified about four or so SLP programs that would be realistic for me to attend, and that is not casting a very wide net.

 

I could throw myself into SLP, volunteer at schools and hospitals every chance I get and take all the pre-reqs while continuing to work my office job, but the thought of putting forth all of that effort and still not being admitted is scary. At this point in my life, I don't have time to spend three or four years just working on being admitted to a program and another two or three actually in the program...

 

I'm sort of running into the same issue as far as nursing. I've read that accelerated BSN programs (the ideal path of me) are also very competitive and my stats may not measure up there either. However, it seems that with nursing, there are alternative ways to break into the field. Also, it seems to me that accelerated BSN is not quite as competitive as SLP. 

 

If anyone has any thoughts as to what they would do in my shoes or as far as getting into SLP vs. BSN programs, it would be greatly appreciated. I'm not afraid of hard work and know that's what it's going to take to succeed in either field, but at this point in my life, I do want my work to pay off and lead to a better, more fulfilling life for me and my family and not more frustration.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

 

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Which state are you in? You can also look into online programs, although those usually require you finding your own clinical placements. Also, most are good for timing about accepting and beginning, but be aware that NOVA Southeastern's program usually has a 2 year time period of sending in items and hearing back for an acceptance and starting. The rest usually let you know that application period. I think several online programs begin in summer, spring or fall. 

 

Pay depends on where you are and what setting you work in. Some areas you begin in the 40's while others you begin in the 60's. So I'd go to ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Assoc.) and find their salary listings. It's fairly detailed about region of the country, vs setting. Schools tend to give worse pay.

 

You'll have to take pre-reqs before beginning... check the schools you're interested in to see if they allow for post-baccs or have a leveling semester/year. Some programs just have you do all the pre-reqs in the summer before classes. Others might have a leveling year/ post-bacc year... If this is the case check to see if this leads to automatic enrollment into their Masters program. Not all do that, in which case you'll have to apply to that program and others to actually get into a Master's program. You can maybe start now just doing them part time if you're not applying this application cycle. Go to ASHA's page for the list of pre-reqs (or your prospective school might list them too, but ASHA's is more thorough-- like only Physics counts of physical science, etc. some pre-reqs can only be taken at schools with a Communication Sci. and Disorders (CSD)/ speech pathology program.... like intro to SLP, speech science, etc. 

 

Working in the schools will give you both good schedules for the kids so you'll be home weekends/afternoons/holidays/summer. This can let you maybe work PRN in a hospital or clinic in the summer for extra money, or during extended school year in the summer too.  Jobs in the other settings have fairly good hours too, but you won't have summers off. This doesn't matter as much now though, as you may change your mind during grad school, lots of people do. They'll love kids and then halfway through have a placement with adults and love that. So you'll see where you end up going. 

 

One thing-- I slightly mentioned this before, but during grad school you might have limited time between classes, schoolwork and the clinical placements. So if you're planning on having kids, I would wait until afterwards (but if you already have kids or really want them now, it's still do-able, especially since you're not the one carrying it.) One thing about nursing-- there's odd hours. Most shifts are 8 or 12 hours, I think 12 hours are usually 3-4 days a week and then 8 is spread across 4? But keep this in mind for the future when you may want to be awake and spend time with family. You might have evening or night shifts and thus sleep during the day the next day, so pretty much losing two days for a night 12 hour shift. Of course, you can maybe find a job that just has day shifts, but then thats typically 7-7 or 9-9, so you're still gone most of the day, but still have several days off the rest of the week and have a regular sleeping schedule. Just like with SLP you can specialize too, like with pediatric nursing, cardiology nursing, emergency... (Since you were once a journalism major you might've research SLP quite a bit already, but in case you haven't, you can specialize in quite a bit with SLP... neurogenic disorders, stuttering, swallowing (yes we do that), child language, aphasia, motor disorders...)

 

Also, so if you opt for a program that has a leveling year or just do a post-bacc year, then that'll be 3 years (leveling + 2 year masters)... buuuut you aren't certified yet. You then have to do a mandatory internship year (~9 months) called the "clinical fellowship year"and then you can apply for your license to be certified. This is a paid year though! 

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Last thing-- both fields are good but have an influx of applicants. I think my roommates that were nurses said there's almost too many nurses with BSNs (but don't count me on that completely), whereas SLP has lots of applicants but not enough spots, so once you get in you're golden cause there's a decent amount of jobs nationwide and in a variety of settings. Of course, if you're like me an always looking at jobs to get an idea of where they are and what not, then you can look on job sites for both SLP and nursing jobs in your area to see if there are some close. With SLP there's also the rising concept of tele practice, and there's several staffing companies that provide that so you can pick up extra money or do all tele practice. :)

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As someone who left my job to pursue this career, it's year 3 for me between first getting prereqs and now applying for the second time. I am lucky enough to have the ability as my husband and I do not have children, but I would definitely have a back up plan if applying doesn't work the first time... However, 3 schools in your area raises your chances. I applied to only one school last year and am reapplying this year after being waitlisted then not making it to admission from that list. i don't want to be negative, just thought you should hear from someone who is trying to make the switch.

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I have been a nursing assistant for the past 4 years, working alongside RNs and was just accepted to SLP grad school. So I'll give my comparasion of the two professions....

The pay is actually better in SLP, but that isn't everything. I will say that the RNs I work with are extremely stressed. They basically have someone's life in their hands on top of a million other things. Not to say that SLP isn't stressful, but unless you specialize in dysphagia, it isn't life and death work. Yes, the schedule flexibility in nursing is nice, but you are probably going to have to work every other weekend and every other holiday, whereas in SLP you would not have to do that no matter what setting you work in. I know 3 nurses that have actually decided to go back to school and pursue SLP, PT, or OT because they are burnt out and can't take the stress anymore. It's not the acting for others that's stressful, it's management that short staffs them and whatnot which makes things difficult. It is definitely a very hard and underappreciated profession. Nurses need more recognition for what they do. At the same time, most people don't even know what an SLP does, or they think that you just correct kids who can't say their Rs. So both professions have some sort of frustration level when it comes to others understanding your expertise. SLP has just has many job prospects and wonderful job security; you just have to get a Masters degree. You could get your BSN faster with the accelerated program, which you already mentioned. I think in the long-run SLP is a better option, but in the short-term nursing is since you can graduate and start working faster. Both professions are wonderful and they do so much to help people, whether others recogmize it or not. You will be happy no matter what decision you make. Good luck!

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I would (and did haha) pick SLP all the way. I am currently an RT (respiratory therapist) and while I love my work I am pursuing speech for several reasons. The market (where I am) is over-saturated w/ RTs and it seems to be headed that way with nursing as well, according to my co-workers. So stability is lacking in my field, to say the least. I also feel as though nurses are incredibly under-appreciated, and tend to bear the brunt of criticism and blame from all sides. This includes the patients, the patients' families, and the doctors. To choose nursing, and to be happy and fulfilled in this career, I think you really need to have a VERY strong calling for it.

I'm picking SLP in part because I am drawn to having a schedule (working for a school district) that mirrors my children's school schedule. That being said I will likely want to work per diem in the hospital setting as well, as that is where my roots are. I also like the idea of being able to take on private clients on my "own time" so to speak. My mother in law is a retired speech pathologist, and was able to take on private cases during school breaks, and also after she retired from the school district for extra income. In addition, even if you don't think this will be an issue for you, there is a greater degree of respect for SLPs vs RTs or RNs, in my experience. This is I am sure in part due to the higher level of education required for the position. If you want to eventually pursue an even higher degree of education, I believe you have more opportunities in SLP as there seems to be a shortage of applicants. (Meaning doctorates and PhDs etc) So if you want to pursue teaching and/or research, you may have a better chance at finding a program and funding than in other fields of study.

A professor of mine recently gave us a talk that I found very inspirational. He said that because SLP is still a relatively "unknown" profession, you have the ability to carve out your own niche in the field. You can become "an expert" in whatever area you are drawn to where not much is known. He said that it was important to always have something going "on the side" - take on extra projects, become involved, and guess what? You will get noticed. You will be considered for more opportunities. You will gain even more respect. I find this all very exciting.

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My associates is in nursing but I went back to school and completed my BS in CDIS (SLP) due to the fact that SLP is so much more flexible and I was a single parent with kids, at one point. I worked hard and made it through with a 3.97 Institution and 4.0 program GPA. It took me three application seasons and working hard in the community with autistic kids and running a reading program to make it into grad school; more than one person that I tutored (with a lower GPA) made it in before me. SLP programs graduate big B.S. classes but, when it comes time for graduate school, the programs shrink considerably; you have to be prepared to be in purgatory for a little bit and figure out what it will take you to get out. If you really want it, go for it. The day that I considered giving up and just getting my teaching certificate was the day that I got an acceptance letter.

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I'm picking SLP in part because I am drawn to having a schedule (working for a school district) that mirrors my children's school schedule. That being said I will likely want to work per diem in the hospital setting as well, as that is where my roots are. I also like the idea of being able to take on private clients on my "own time" so to speak. My mother in law is a retired speech pathologist, and was able to take on private cases during school breaks, and also after she retired from the school district for extra income. I

A professor of mine recently gave us a talk that I found very inspirational. He said that because SLP is still a relatively "unknown" profession, you have the ability to carve out your own niche in the field. You can become "an expert" in whatever area you are drawn to where not much is known. He said that it was important to always have something going "on the side" - take on extra projects, become involved, and guess what? You will get noticed. You will be considered for more opportunities. You will gain even more respect. I find this all very exciting.

Yes working on the side is great, but you have to watch out for ethics. You generally don't want to take your own students from school (unless your school allows it). You can always have people refer their patients to you so that it takes away the conflict of interest, but still check with you school to serif they allow it. You can always take up PRN work at a hospital or do teletherapy. If you do do private therapy most suggest getting liability insurance to cover yourself... I'm not trying to deter anyone away form this, just saying what I've read in other forums! 

 

I do agree with being able to carve out your own niche and such. We've heard several times in our classes how there's few SLP PhD students so you'd have a decent shot at getting in deepening on what your ideas are. There's always university jobs available it seems too. 

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Yes working on the side is great, but you have to watch out for ethics. You generally don't want to take your own students from school (unless your school allows it). You can always have people refer their patients to you so that it takes away the conflict of interest, but still check with you school to serif they allow it. You can always take up PRN work at a hospital or do teletherapy. If you do do private therapy most suggest getting liability insurance to cover yourself... I'm not trying to deter anyone away form this, just saying what I've read in other forums! 

 

I do agree with being able to carve out your own niche and such. We've heard several times in our classes how there's few SLP PhD students so you'd have a decent shot at getting in deepening on what your ideas are. There's always university jobs available it seems too.

None of her private cases were from the pool of students from her district - it isn't allowed as you were guessing. There are many private schools in our area however, and they don't offer speech services. So she had referrals from private schools, private speech groups, word of mouth etc etc. Doctors make referrals as well, so I would imagine networking would be key. Liability insurance is very reasonably priced through ASHA.

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My associates is in nursing but I went back to school and completed my BS in CDIS (SLP) due to the fact that SLP is so much more flexible and I was a single parent with kids, at one point. I worked hard and made it through with a 3.97 Institution and 4.0 program GPA. It took me three application seasons and working hard in the community with autistic kids and running a reading program to make it into grad school; more than one person that I tutored (with a lower GPA) made it in before me. SLP programs graduate big B.S. classes but, when it comes time for graduate school, the programs shrink considerably; you have to be prepared to be in purgatory for a little bit and figure out what it will take you to get out. If you really want it, go for it. The day that I considered giving up and just getting my teaching certificate was the day that I got an acceptance letter.

Wow - what did you attribute the long wait to, other than lack of spots? I'm guessing since you are a parent (as am I) you applied to fewer schools due to issues relocating?

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Go for SLP. My story... I was a ComDis student in undergrad. I actually started my SLP grad school but had to drop due to family and financial issues. I ended up completing an accelerated BSN program. I've been working as a nurse and really dislike it. People say there's money in this field but you have to work your ass off to make that money. Patients are very disrespectful and can be very mean to you, almost making you second guess yourself. Maybe it's where I work but I know nursing is not for me. Also it's very difficult to obtain a job as a new graduate. But once you land your first year of experience, it gets better in terms of job market. My best friend continued her SLP in LIU and she had job offers lining up for her while she was completing her CCC. I am now applying to NOVA to complete my SLP degree. I hope and pray that I get in. You have to really make sure nursing and SLP is really what you want. I believe it's best to shadow each field and go from there. There are some online SLP programs that will accommodate your life schedule. Also if you do end up choosing nursing, complete the accelerated track since you already have a degree. I completed it in 12months. It's tough but doable. Best of luck

Edited by allsaints86

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I have not applied to nursing school so i'm sure any people with experience on that end can tell me how wrong I am.  But I say if you're interested in both, i'd go for nursing.  It seems (at least in my area) that it is "easier" to get it going and done.  If you have an interest in both, SLP is a wonderful option, but like you were saying has a lot of boxes you need to check off and might have to apply a few times etc.   I know two girls that got their nursing degrees very quickly and were also career/major changers.  One had her teaching credential and switched she didn't have to take a year of pre-reqs either to be eligible to apply. 

 

Someone else on here posted really good advice about looking at what the jobs in your area have to offer.  I could be wrong again, but I don't think SLP's always make more than nurses.  I feel that is probably very dependent on your area and of course what kind of SLP/Nurse they are and idk what the nurse acronyms all mean so forgive my answer if it makes no sense based on that!

 

Also compare how competitive and map out how long the nursing programs are in your area versus the SLP programs.  Go with whichever one seems like it is the better fit for your future goals and family plans.

 

Either one is a really great way to help people and both are exciting options. 

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Well my mother has been an RN for 20 years. She became an RN through the associate route. Many hospitals are trying to move away from this, but if you can get in with an associates in the next 3 or 4 years you'll be fine. In fact, my mom's hospital has continually offered to PAY for her to get her BSN because there is no way they can fire or let go none BSN nurses (plus they all make the same amount of money). An associates is a must quicker and cheaper way to get into nursing, and once your in, your hospital could pay for your BSN. Just something to keep in mind.

 

As far as the pay, my mother earns in the 80's per year. But she makes this much because she solely works night shifts and weekends to make the pay differential. So if her base pay is $30 or $35, working a weekend AND a night gets her to $50 an hour. Which is great money plus she only has to work 3 or 4 days a week. BUT she is working nights and weekends which most people I'm sure see as unappealing. It seems like thats the way to make great money as a RN or doing travel nursing, which doesn't seem like something you'd consider given your unable to relocate for a SLP program at this time. So personally, I'd choose SLP. It is more time and money though but I think its better for a young growing family in the long run. Just kick but in those undergrad course to ensure you'll get into a graduate school!

Edited by JaimeSLP

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