Jumping in with a MAJOR career change!

  1. Looks like the introduction page is no longer available so here goes......I am 48 years old and was a manager in what would best be described as agritourism since graduating with my BA years ago. The position worked well for our family for many years while our 4 kids were growing up. I didn't mind the craziness, the long hours, the masses of people on a 60 degree fall day, etc. but I was ready to do something different. I resigned a couple of years ago and worked part time at a stress free but not challenging job while doing a lot of soul searching and research. It was a busy 2 years with a lot of family events, graduations(school, college, boot camp). The dust has settled and the job search was back on in full force.

    I have taken a few very in depth career interest tests through a local college in the past few years. Everything kept showing my interest in a health care setting. Every job listing that catches my interest also falls under that category. This is COMPLETELY different from what I have done for so many years. I have always had the desire to help people in this capacity. I kept looking at job searches and saying, I wish I could do that but I figured it was too late. After talking with my neighbor who has been a nurse for over 30 years and telling her my interest, she pleasantly surprised me and said, you have plenty of time to start this as a second career!!! That encouragement is all I needed to hear. Next semester, I start my journey to become a CNA!!! I am nervous and so very excited at the same time!!!!
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   BedsideNurse
    My sister went back to school when she was 46 and got her respiratory therapist degree. I've known a number of later in life nurses....It's not too late if you feel motivated and up to it. Good luck!
  4. by   LovingLife123
    I'll just caution you, as something I notice on this site often. Many people start out like you, they are worn out on their careers, they want this feeling of being fulfilled everyday, therefore they think nursing is a good fit.

    They breeze through school, pass NCLEX, start their job,then come in here to state they hate nursing and it's not what they thought. They regret having given up a job they were comfortable with. You are still dealing with the public in nursing. They are still hateful and even more so because tons of emotions are involved. You rarely get a thank you, even when you saved a life. You are often treated as a waitress and are on your feet just as much. It's expected of you. And it's physically and mentally exhausting.

    Somedays, maybe once or twice a month, I feel that I did good that day. More often than not, I feel like I didn't get enough done. I feel horrible leaving things for the oncoming shift because there was no time. I feel like I missed something on my patient. My back, legs, and feet hurt. I may cry for my patient and their family for the tragedy I've seen that day because it's so awful.

    Go in to this with your eyes wide open, with a full understanding of what you are getting into. Quitting a stable job at 48 to do this is a huge risk. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's a risk. You will be over 50 when it's all said and done. Is the job market good for new grads in your area? Are there plentiful residency programs or at least employers willing to take on a new grad? Some markets are not new grad friendly due to the huge influx of nurses the past few years. The shortage in some areas is for experienced nurses.

    Good luck and continue to research. Just don't get it in your head that all we do is save lives all day and people pat you on the back and say job well done everyday, then you clock out with a smile on your face feeling all good about yourself. Which equates to fixing all the unhappiness in your life all while making great money. I promise, it's not great money. It's enough for me to live, but I made more in other jobs I had in the past. Which I find sad.
  5. by   jennylee321
    She said she's on the path to become a CNA, not like she's committing to a four year degree. Go ahead and give it a shot!
  6. by   HeySis
    It's great that you are going to get your CNA. I really think some time working as a CNA helps people to know if nursing is something they want or not. You get an up close ok at patients, shifts and the feel of healthcare without the time and money commitment. There are lots of people that work as a CNA and say... no. never be a nurse, ... and others that find it meets their expectations.

    I worked for two years as a CNA, then many more as an LPN (while putting a husband through school and raising a family) before going back to get my RN.

    I'm normally happy to go to work everyday, I love what I do. Part of that is where I work (the company and the unit), another part is the people I work with and the last I think is just my personality.


    I have been in jobs were I felt massively abused by employer/boss, and it takes a toll on your health and peace of mind. IF I could work for change I did, if not I worked to find something else, sometimes within the same company but a different unit manager made a big difference.

    You will never know if you don't start. Now a days many people are not retiring at the traditional ages (60-65yo), it's worth making a change for another twenty + years of employment.

    So when people start telling you the negative (and it is there) be aware, they just want you to go into this with your eyes wide open. Sweep away the fantasy of what nursing is and get a good look, if it's still what you want, then go for it!!
  7. by   KatieMI
    This is all great and good. But I would advice caution. Extreme caution, that is.

    CNA is one of the lowest on the totem pole, least paid, most physically and mentally demanding jobs. It is wearing, in all senses, for many young and strong ones. At 48, whether we like it or not, our bodies start to fail most of us. One awkward movement can pretty much wipe one's lifetime savings over just a couple of years, not counting all other unpleasant realities of living with chronic back pain.

    Being short, there are literally hundreds of occupations which are "so different" and can provide a fresh breath in life without unnecessary risks of physical trauma, abuse of all kinds, financial losses, exposure to transmissible disease and more of the same. At least, before investing time and money into career change, try dedicate 24 hours a week to volunteering in a local nursing home or community clinic. Get a good reality check before you jump into it, not somebody's optimistic spiel about "you can do it".
  8. by   ilikemudflats
    Congratulations! I also made a big career change. After years in the aviation business, I went back to school and graduated with a BSN when I was 61 years old. I work in the surgery department of a hospital part time, 0600 - noon mon-fri. I love it. Never too old!

    I figured my dad lived to almost 100, and my mom is alive and well at 94, so what was I gonna do for the next 40 years...lol
  9. by   LovingLife123
    Quote from jennylee321
    She said she's on the path to become a CNA, not like she's committing to a four year degree. Go ahead and give it a shot!
    And a CNA and nurse are two different things. A CNA does not have the stress of the nursing job. Yes it's physical and involves patient care, but it's not a nurse. To me the only reason she would quit the career she has now to become a CNA is with being a nurse as an end game. The pay of a CNA is awful for the amount of physical labor that goes into it.
  10. by   HeySis
    Quote from LovingLife123
    And a CNA and nurse are two different things. A CNA does not have the stress of the nursing job. Yes it's physical and involves patient care, but it's not a nurse. To me the only reason she would quit the career she has now to become a CNA is with being a nurse as an end game. The pay of a CNA is awful for the amount of physical labor that goes into it.

    It doesn't look like she's quitting a job to do this. According to OP she stopped working in her career awhile ago and has been doing PT work to decide want she wants next.

    And while I believe we would all agree that being a nurse and CNA are vastly different, you can get an idea of what healthcare is like in many ways from being exposed to it. Hours and the types of patients/families and demands are a few I can think of off hand.

    I had a person in my practical nursing class that never did nay kind of healthcare at all, she did well in school but by the end of a couple of clinical rotations knew she did not want to be a nurse because she was uncomfortable with the close physical contact with patients. She knew going into it that she would have to care for people and their bodily functions (for a lot of fields it's a regular thing and for brand new nurses starting on the floor, yep) and the theory of it didn't bother her... but in real life it was another issue. I've seen this many other times over the past 25 years.

    So if someone is seriously thinking of going to nursing school, I always recommend working in healthcare first and a CNA is a quick way to get a foot in the door. You may not know if you'll love nursing, but I think you can quickly realize if you can't stand certain aspects that are there along the continuum, and can get out before getting into major debt.
  11. by   Riverwader
    I really appreciate all of the comments and advice that everyone has shared with me. I know that each of you are just trying to prepare me and make sure that I do not have a glorified view of what being a CNA, RN, or LPN is all about. I have always had an interest, I actually changed my major to healthcare and then switched back. I was 19, naive, soft spoken, etc. I feel I have matured into a much stronger and confident person. I left the agriculture/retail combo after 30+ years for many reasons and I do miss parts of it but do not regret my decision.

    My job was intense and physically demanding. I had many 80+ hour weeks. We would have days where 10,000 people would come through and there would be code Adams, medical situations, pissed off customers, etc. Being a GM, those situations fell under my responsibility. I felt like a human fire extinguisher,lol. However, I feel I did a good job at resolving situations because I would stay calm and focused. I thank our 4 boys for that!! I love people but know that there are a lot of pieces of work in the world.

    I have done a lot of research but I know that can never surpass experience. My future DIL and another son's GF are nurses and have been very helpful and don't candy coat anything. My neighbor has been a nurse for 35 years and I had her over for lunch and I asked her a ton of questions and she had many for me. The pay is not great but we do not need to rely on my income at this point in life. My Mom had Alzheimer's and we moved her in with us when my Dad could no longer care for her. She often lost bladder/bowel control, etc. and the only thing that bothered me about it was she felt embarrassed that her daughter had to do this for her. I would be comforting and reassuring. I had a CNA that cared for my Mom when I was at work. I am eternally grateful to the excellent care she provided.

    LovingLife123, I appreciate your raw and gritty honestly, I know you are only trying to offer guidance to a very green individual. I do want to assure you that I am not doing this to fix unhappiness in my life, that has nothing to do with it. I am happy, lol. Sure, I have my off days just like everyone else but I am not trying to fill some empty void, etc.

    I am signing up for CNA classes in June, followed by clinicals. I am applying for contingent patient escort and sitter jobs now to get some experience. Thank you again for taking the time to offer encouragement, caution, opinions, and your experience. All is welcomed!

    Sarah
    Last edit by Riverwader on Mar 23
  12. by   Riverwader
    Figured out quote, ignore this
    Last edit by Riverwader on Mar 23
  13. by   Riverwader
    Quote from LovingLife123
    And a CNA and nurse are two different things. A CNA does not have the stress of the nursing job. Yes it's physical and involves patient care, but it's not a nurse. To me the only reason she would quit the career she has now to become a CNA is with being a nurse as an end game. The pay of a CNA is awful for the amount of physical labor that goes into it.
    I know that a CNA and nurse are two different positions completely. I would never call myself a nurse, I respect that I would not be earning that title. I would compare that to stolen valor, my husband and one of our sons are Marines. Nurse and CNA involve different stress, education, and responsibility levels. I know I would be assisting nurses, which is what I want to do. I did not quit my career to make this transition and becoming a nurse is not my end game.
  14. by   Riverwader
    Quote from KatieMI
    This is all great and good. But I would advice caution. Extreme caution, that is.

    CNA is one of the lowest on the totem pole, least paid, most physically and mentally demanding jobs. It is wearing, in all senses, for many young and strong ones. At 48, whether we like it or not, our bodies start to fail most of us. One awkward movement can pretty much wipe one's lifetime savings over just a couple of years, not counting all other unpleasant realities of living with chronic back pain.

    Being short, there are literally hundreds of occupations which are "so different" and can provide a fresh breath in life without unnecessary risks of physical trauma, abuse of all kinds, financial losses, exposure to transmissible disease and more of the same. At least, before investing time and money into career change, try dedicate 24 hours a week to volunteering in a local nursing home or community clinic. Get a good reality check before you jump into it, not somebody's optimistic spiel about "you can do it".
    Excellent points, thanks!

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Jumping in with a MAJOR career change!