second career nurses/students, input pls!

  1. Am I delusional?

    I am 37 yr old SAHM w/a previous BS degree in HlEd and work experience in Pharmacuetical Sales. Before staying at home with my children, I did the whole "make lots of money, climb the ladder, be succesful, house in the suburbs" thing. Honestly, it's comfortable but dull and empty. I don't want my kids to grow up with their biggest concerns being fashion, consumerism and popularity. We have jointly decided that we are making a marked shift in our lives and moving in a different direction- down sizing and simplifying our lives, serving others and God, et cet. Please, don't think I am some idealist Florence Nightengale. We are very intelligent, mature, thoughtful people who have given this a lot of thought and prayer and genuinely feel it is the best move for our family. So.......

    My plans are to pursue Nursing as a second career/ second half of life thing. I do like the background, love the sciences and health- especially women's health and reproduction. I thrive in a crisis and tend to handle high stress situations better than most. Practically, our family would like the opportunity to do missions work- both domestically and internationally, possibly long term and a nursing degree would A) provide needed skills to minister with and B) provide an opportunity to support ourselves while giving back either state side or abroad. I could support our family while working evenings/nights and my husband finishes his studies. Ultimately, my dream would be to move into Midwifery when my children are grown and utilize that in service, again either domestically in rural/urban settings or abroad in developing countries.

    The questions I have are:
    1. What are your experiences in going back to school again after 15-20 years? Biggest chalenges? Biggest joys? Did you find yourself being a better student? Was it harder or easier than you remember the first time around? I have to wonder (pls no offense to anyone under 30) if it is really that difficult or if perhaps it is an age and maturity issue? I feel like I have been around enough to understand the value and neccessity of hard work much better than I did in my early 20's.

    2. How difficult was it to get into a program? Was your GPA from your earlier degree a hinderance? My GPA was terrible- 2.6 but I will need to return and re-do pre req A&P, Chem, and Stat. I am confident that I would do MUCH better this time around and wonder if they weigh those more recent grades heavier in their decision making? I hear so much negativity about gaining admissions, how difficult the process is, et cet; I am wondering what your experiences have been as a returning student with many years b/t degrees.

    3. What are your opinions regarding the ADN vs BSN issue? What route did you take? The ADN would certainly be much less expensive, but time wise- not much shorter. The BSN would serve me better Internationally, I believe. Any thoughts or advice welcome.

    Thanks for making it all the way through this. It's really long, sorry!
    Blessings to you!
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   Quickbeam
    I am a second career nurse. I had a BS/MA in Criminal Justice and worked as a juvenile probation officer and youth advocate for 10 years. Loved it but it was extremely UN-portable work (residency requirements, etc.). I wanted a job with a license so that I could move to better allow my husband to pursue his career options.

    That was 20 years ago. I don't regret it. I took 5 years of pre-reqs (nights) and then an accelerated BSN program. I wish I'd known:

    1. Whatever you did before nursing doesn't get you much respect IN nursing. You are pretty much starting from scratch. That was hard for me at 32.

    2. Nursing is very physically demanding. I sort of knew it but hadn't counted on the toll it would take. Grateful for the BSN...it allowed me to get into Community Health...challenging but not as physically demanding.

    3. Wage compression...I hadn't expected this either. I figured with decent starting salaries I'd see significant incremental increases. I was wrong. Wages flatten out horribly in nursing. I did better working for a state government as a nurse and got more regular wage increases.

    I do love nursing. I hope you will, too. I just wished I'd known the above before hand...I might have made a few different decisions along the way.

    ETA: the GPA thing...my program took into account my pre-req grades which were far better than my BS/MA ones. Once you are in, I'd advise to keep GPA in perspective. I had many many classmates kill themselves to get a 4.0 in nursing school who ended up selling real estate a year later. You want to get all you can from the process.
    Last edit by Quickbeam on Jan 17, '07
  4. by   KIAN
    I am a second career nurse. I was/am a RRT. I went back to school at the age of 40. Most of my prerequisits were counted from college 20 years ago. My grade point average was a 2.6. I had to take a few more prequisits and received A's in them..
    From experience I agree with what Quickbeam says. And boy, do those fresh out of highschool make you feel old! Good Luck!!
  5. by   JaxiaKiley
    I'm 28 and just started nursing school yesterday. It was hard to leave my job and start taking pre-reqs, but I feel it will be worth it in the end. There are programs that don't care about any grades except for pre-reqs. Look for one of those. Personally, I had a horrible GPA when I tried to go to college 10 years ago. I just didn't understand the time and commitment involved. However, since going back to school, I have a 3.935 GPA and just finished my AA degree. I am MUCH more prepared now. I know still fall into that 'under 30' group for you, but I thought I'd share
  6. by   Testa Rosa, RN
    Sounds like you and I have had a similar life journey. I'm just about done with my pre-reqs--just a couple more this Spring. I do feel older than I should becuase my peers are so young.

    Recently sent my applications out to ADN/BSN/MSN programs. They all lead to RN--which is my ultimate goal. Figure I will go where I'm accepted, but will bridge to BSN as that's strongly encouraged for all new hires within the SF/Bay Area. Know I will eventually pursue an MSN should my health hold out, but would prefer to do this after a couple years spent as an active bed-side RN. The Entry Level MSN program nearby is private and very expesive. At my age, and with having kids that will need to go to college within the next 10-15 years, don't think it would be the best option for me.

    While I have three kids--one with special needs--I think school has been much easier this time around. Definitely not as hard as all the talk would lead one to believe. Mostly due to having a clear focus and a sense that I've finally figured out what the universe (God) intended for me. Everything seems to be clicking into place. It also helps that I have a better work ethic, maturity, and time managment skills than when I went to college in San Diego for my first degree. Was a San Francisco girl who grew up in the fog. I discovered surfing at 20. Need I say more; obviously my prior GPA was not stellar.

    I've done well with my pre-reqs, have retaken a couple classes (English, Pshyc) that I got B's in to move them to A's so that my pre-req GPA was solid--most programs look at pre-req GPA over the overall GPA. The trick with doing well for me was to study every free moment I had. I do without much TV time--when the family settles in around the tube after dinner, I go into the bedroom to read texts.

    Also, regarding entrance exams. Study for them over the summer and then take the August entrance exam date closest to just before the Start of Fall Sememster. This way you are not stuck studying for entrance exams while youre in the middle of managing school work. If you are a busy mom, there is no way to do this and do well without putting your family through hell.

    I've also had to put school in perspective and just let it go when family things were more important. This forced me to keep things in perspective and stress less, yet somehow do better overall. Hard to explain; you will see what I mean. I also went through breast cancer while taking my inorganic/organic chemistry classes (my only B's). Taught me that when I have a goal and a clear focused plan, I can get through anything.

    Another recommendation, volunteer if you can at your local hospital. I've gained valuable insight and feel more prepared for what I will learn in nursing school. While volunteering I've met a couple new nurses closer to my age who are just doing great and while overwhelmed, feel so vibrant and excited about their new career path, This just makes me feel all the more certain that this is the path for me.

    Best wishes!
  7. by   kukukajoo
    I am 38 and in the first year of an assoicates program. I changed so I could do something more rewarding. It has been hard at times but mostly due to finances as I am a single mom of 3 kids.

    I find that learning takes a little more effort than when I was younger but I also have so many more things on my plate to worry and think about and I am sure that is why.

    I have DEFINATELY gotten more out my education being an older student- I dont take it for granted and it is something I WANT, not something that is expected of me. It is also something I really really love and want to do with a passion. I know I would never have made it if I tried this when I was younger- less motivation and less undersatanding that bad grades may affect me later on.

    if you want to get into midwifery you would be needing a Masters so going for the Bachelors now may be a good idea.

    I plan on eventually going on and becoming a CRNA when my youngest graduates HS in a couple years.

    I don't think your grades then will be considered, just the courses needed as prereqs and required courses. Also NLN scores may be used.

    Best of luck- it sounds like you are doing it for all the right reasons!
  8. by   mauxtav8r
    Good luck to you. This is a great thing to do. Your vitae sounds like it could have been written by me a few years ago. A couple of things I've picked up along the way:

    1) Some schools allow for a GPA appeals process if a given amount of time has passed. This is different than an academic fresh start. It means that only your "modern era" grades would be viewed as your GPA for application purposes. BTW, I had a 2.7 when I started back from a previous degree. Straight A's all this time and I now have a 3.1. Should graduate with a 3.2 which is great with me.

    2) The young ones are not your competition. I find my classwork to be challenging but do-able. Most of the students who make the better grades in my program are older students.

    3) I treat school like my part-time job, and my kids (school-agers) as my full-time job. I study while they're in school and have the DH take them to school a couple of days a week, and they stay at a sitter a couple of afternoons a week. Works for us.

    4) While professionally other experience will not parlay (sp) into nursing, the skills you learned WILL DEFINITELY HELP. Your communication skills (as a drug rep I'm thinking you can talk purty to them docs), leadership, time management and on and on.

    5) Don't worry about being friends with the younger ones. Do your own thing and respect them as you want to be respected. I have many young friends that I just love to bits, so don't get me wrong here. Just don't worry about what they think. They aren't you.

    Best wishes.
    Last edit by mauxtav8r on Jan 17, '07
  9. by   SiennaGreen
    Thanks to you all for your wonderfully supportive replies! I especially like the part about 'talking purty' to the Drs! How true. I look forward to any further responses.
  10. by   RN007
    I could have written the original post. To answer your questions:

    1. I absolutely love school this go round. I have BA and MS degrees in another field where I worked ror 20+ years. I can't get enough of this nursing stuff. You will be surprised at those who won't share your passion for learning because they may be entering nursing for different reasons.

    2. GPA may be an issue where you plan to apply. Check with the school(s). I had a great GPA going in. I only have 2 B's on my nursing program transcript, and they are from freshman comp 30 years ago, literally. It's brought down my current GPA to a 3.9, LOL. My nursing program was easier to get into with a lower GPA, but harder to stay in (requires a minimum B average and you can only repeat 2 classes.)

    3. I, too, plan to get an MSN but am skipping the BSN. Many schools have RN to BSN programs you can get into later (and your employer will probably pay for). Some also have MSN programs for RNs with degrees in other fields where you take a minumum number of 'bridge' courses. That's what I'm doing.

    Good luck and God bless you and your family!
  11. by   Gennaver
    Quote from chaundrah
    Am I delusional?

    ...
    Thanks for making it all the way through this. It's really long, sorry!
    Blessings to you!
    Hello,
    I think it is comendable what you and your family are trying to do.

    I second the poster who said that anything that you did previously that was not nursing will not earn any respect amongs *some* nurses.

    I am 40 and NOT a second career nurse but, a late getting to school person.

    While working towards my non nursing BA and non nursing Associates I have been working in health care off and one for 18 years.

    However, since I am in a master's entry program I sometimes am treated like a "second career" person as if I have "NO" clue at all about health care.

    It is odd, yet I think that it may somehow be due to "occasional" insecure personalitied person you may come across who coincidentally may be a nurse.

    There are some REALLY great co-worker nurses out there too. Good luck,
    Gen
  12. by   RN007
    Quote from Gennaver

    I second the poster who said that anything that you did previously that was not nursing will not earn any respect amongs *some* nurses.
    I agree with this. Some of the nurses I've worked with during clinicals do not understand why I would enter the nursing field and have such a good attitude about it. (Hey, when you're led by God, how can you not?) I've had to 'dumb' myself down somewhat or at least keep a lot of things to myself. I've even had trouble with some of my instructors because I already have another master's and have lived a life. But I'm still very happy and plan to stay that way!

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