37 year old procrastinator - Considering a nursing career

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am a 37yr old procrastinator, who is full of regrets and is wondering if it's too late to start nursing school. I beg of you to bear with me as I'm full of questions and having never attended college a day in my life. To start, I have a GED and have been skating through the work force on vocational certificates and experience for the past 20 years.

    Now I'm unemployed and I'm finding it harder and harder to get a job without a degree. I've decided to go to college but I'm afraid that by the time I'm done with school, my age will be a road block in attaining employment. Am I too old? That's my first question.

    Secondly, for a person of my age seeking higher education, what's the best course of action to take to start a nursing career? What I mean is, where should I start? Should I go for the LPN cert, the AAS in Nursing or just the full on Bachelor's degree in nursing? What do you think would be the fastest and/or more efficient and effective road to take towards my goal of becoming a nurse?

    I have no idea on how to even begin the process. I've read about prerequisites, and remedial classes. There's also entrance exams and not being accepted in a nursing program. I feel so lost and overwhelmed that I just want to kick myself for not having done this years ago. What should I do? I live in NY (NYC) and things seem super complicated here. Can you help me figure out what to do?

    Dear Overwhelmed,

    No, you are not too old by any means. As far as being lost, we were all lost when we started.

    The first thing to do is start. Apply to your community college and start taking general education classes. Call them tomorrow. Make an appointment.

    General education courses are classes that everyone has to take such as English and Math. Your college will give you a placement test to determine which English class to best place you in. Don’t worry, it just helps you get started.

    You may want to start taking only one or two classes to get acclimated. Many colleges offer night classes to help adult students.

    A little further down the road, you can learn about nursing pre-requisites, but you have time. You will be talking to other students, and a counselor (often you learn more from other students). Basically, nursing pre-requisites are science classes such as Anatomy and Physiology.

    You have time to decide whether to pursue an LPN, ADN, or BSN. It will depend on your long-term goals and how well you adapt to school. Career-wise, an LPN is the most limiting option, then an ADN, and then your BSN.

    Don’t kick yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. The past is the past, but the future is whatever you make it. I will cheer you on, friend!

    Nurse Beth

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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,362; Likes: 4,058


  3. by   WookieeRN
    I recently met with one of our alumni from my nursing program that decided to go to nursing school at 60, and he is very much gainfully employed as a nurse!
  4. by   TheCommuter
    I was a 23-year-old factory worker with no education beyond a high school diploma in 2004. My job was in jeopardy so I took a risk by quitting to enroll in a 12-month LVN program that required no prerequisite coursework. I had a mortgage and other obligations, which meant I could only be out of work for one year.

    In 12 months I had a new career. I've since earned my ASN degree, RN license, and BSN degree. Now I am enrolled in an online MSN program.

    For someone with no college credits to his/her name, a fast-track 12-month LPN/LVN program could be what the doctor ordered.
  5. by   Hoosier_RN
    But living in NYC, look at the job market. Many new grads unable to get a job, so look to see what will get you hired
  6. by   Renee Libby
    I'm 52 and in nursing school right now. Thirty seven is far from old. : )
  7. by   sonjiro123
    I think that by reaching out to us, you have already taken the first step. I am so proud of you!
    But as far as steps go... I would apply for financial aid and list ALL the universities/colleges in the area( unless you don't need financial aid). Next, I would research the nursing programs for the universities/colleges I selected and find one that you like. Next, apply in the nursing field. From there, make an appointment with your guide. Discuss your goals. They helped me so much with achieving mine.
    I want to keep this short so you know and understand that you can do it.
    One step at a time.
    I don't know you but i feel you can do it.
    Be blessed and take care!

  8. by   momwho7
    No, you are not too old. I was 55 years olds when I passed my NCLEX and became a RN. I was gainfully employed within a week of acquiring my license. I am currently 58 years old and very happy with my decision. Good luck with your new journey.
  9. by   kristier
    I'm 55. I got my LPN last year, but I decided that I really wanted more. Im in my junior year of a BSN program, and wishing I was 37!
  10. by   NurseGirl525
    The first step is to look at your job market. Thirty-seven is not old. I started my prereqs at 37. I will graduate next year at 40. But my job market has a much better outlook than NYC. Yours seems to be over saturated with new grads. Those are the things you need to look at first.

    Then you need to look at schools. Avoid for profit ones. They will leave you in lots of debt and no career. Do not even consider a place like that.

    Next, you will start classes. I had to take remedial algebra for a year before I could take the prereq college algebra. I don't regret those remedial classes. I'm now a math whiz and very rarely miss dosage calculations. Do extremely well in your prereqs, you are going to have lots of competition when applying. Get as many As as you can and no Cs.

    There will be an entrance exam and do well on that. Once you have completed your application packet, it's the longest wait of your life!!!! Good luck!!
  11. by   kristier
    This is great advice-- I just want to add that since you are unemployed right now, and I don't know if you have worked in health care or not, you could check into Nurses Aid programs. Usually within a few weeks you can get certified to work as a CNA and there are always jobs for them, especially in long term care centers. You can get a taste of nursing and see if you like it while also making contacts for the future. If you like long term care, you might want to consider getting your LPN first, which only takes a year, then continue your education while you're working. Some ltc centers have tuition reimbursement and, at least here in Kansas, many of them will pay your loans off if you stay with them for a certain number of years. Good luck to you, there are so many different directions you can go, the important thing is to START.
  12. by   NurseDiane
    NYC is a TERRIBLE place to be in for a nurse. There are no jobs & you don't want to end up with $50,000+ in school loans & not be able to get a job to pay them back. I say this as a nurse with 30 years of experience that lives on Long Island.

    If you're going to go to college, don't go into nursing in NYC. It is over-saturated with nurses & it is virtually impossible to find a job as a new grad unless you go to a university-hospital connected program, like NYU or Columbia. NYU & Columbia will cost you well over $100,000 for a BSN, but at least you'll most likely have a job at the end of it.

    Continued education is always good. So is initial college education & a degree. However, don't underestimate the power of a trade. I have neighbors who are union electricians & plumbers & carpenters, and they do very well with full medical benefits & retirement plans.

    You don't say what you're doing now, or what other interests you have besides nursing. If I had to do it all over again, I would pursue engineering or computer sciences or even a business degree. A degree that is not so "focused" like nursing is will most likely yield you some kind of job at the end of college. Many people think of nursing as a way to automatically get a job when school is done, and it is not like that anymore. I was interviewed and hired by NYU over the phone in my senior year of college---that would NEVER happen today. I never even met anyone face to face until my first day of work!! Today there are 2 or 3 interviews, background checks, etc., which I think is foolish. Someone can have experience & give a great interview, but be very lazy & a gossiper, which is never good. Another person can be fresh out of school, a real go-getter and an excellent worker. For some reason H.R. treats hiring staff nurses like they are staffing senior level Fortune 500 executives, and it is ridiculous.

    Are there jobs in NYC? Yes. But not for new grads.
  13. by   lavenderskies
    My best friend in nursing school was in her early 40's, newly divorced and looking for a new career. I was young, naive and barely focused. I admired her immensely. After we graduated she went on to get specialty training as a surgical asst and got a great job in her hometown. We lost touch but I will never forget her
    Last edit by lavenderskies on Nov 1, '15
  14. by   hopefulhdr
    I'm starting an accelerated program at Johns Hopkins in January - 22 months.
    I'll be 34 years old with a 2 and a half year old and a husband. Not saying it will be a breeze and it's hard to go back to school but age is not such a big deal.

    Do factor in time for pre reqs though - it's taken me 8 months to do mine and take the GRE.

    Best of luck!