Dear Nurse Beth,
I'm 50 and a professional musician and clergy looking to get an RN over the next few years. I have two young children, 7 and 9 and divorcing - could it get worse lol? I am also a chaplain at a hospital and I'm thinking the best place to start is with CNA work. At my hospital I'm a well known quantity there as I do chaplaincy rounds on all the units including behavioral, and I'm looking for any advice you have for me. Thank you so much. I'm a very young looking and feeling 50.
Dear Wants to be a Nurse,
You have a lot on your plate as a divorcing parent….it’s huge. Congrats on your decision to become a nurse. Having a professional job and job security is important as a single parent. Pursuing your nursing education tells your children that education and helping others is important.
The benefit of working as a CNA is that you stand a good chance of getting hired by your CNA employer when you graduate as an RN. This is because they know you and your work ethic. So it's a good thing, although in your case you are already known at your job.
My advice is to just to get your RN training as soon as you can. Work as a CNA while in school if you are able, but your primary focus is to get your RN.
Good luck in nursing school!
I agree with Tommy5677. I went through a very very tough BSN program when I was quite a bit older than you. It was grueling, although I did extremely well. I'm glad I did it because it got me into a job quickly, and d/t my age the idea of spending more years doing an on-line RN to BSN was not realistic. But - to anyone who has time - and believe me, you are young! I also recommend getting an ADN and then going the RN to BSN route.
Many ADN programs require a CNA, but if your chosen school does not, they may give you credit for other schooling and for your chaplain work. Otherwise, be aware that the CNA will add time to this process. Beyond that, you'll probably have to take pre-requisite courses for either Associates or Bachelors program. Things like Anatomy and Physiology, in some cases things like Microbiology, Organic Chem. For my BSN all of my prereqs took 3 FULL semesters, at 4-6 classes each. A ton of work. For most associate programs, there are fewer prereqs, so you'll start the program faster, too. Once you have an ADN and get your RN, you can work as a nurse and start an on-line RN to BSN. Some hospitals pay ADN's less than BSN's and a few in large cities don't want to hire ADN's, but believe me you will be able to find a job. My hospital, a rural regional, doesn't pay any more for a BSN and hires ADN's all day long.
So, my recommendation is also to take the associates degree path. You will save time and money. In terms of the CNA, it is very valuable experience, but it's also ok to skip it if you can. Regarding being hired at a hospital after working as a CNA - maybe, maybe not. One very large hospital system I know of uses a third party testing service for employment choices, and they brag that they don't care if you worked for them in another capacity! In other cases, working there as a CNA might help, but ask yourself, do they already know you as a chaplain? If so, might that help just as much?
Bottom line - if you want to be a nurse, go for it. You are not too old by a long shot. Check out the options, talk to admissions counselors, gather info. Be mindful of your full plate and what your support system will bear. Don't sabotage yourself by making things more difficult than they need to be. If you can manage a BSN, that's great. But the ADN is just as viable and it will get you working as a nurse, in most cases, faster.
An ABSN is great, but only if you can check out of your life for the year it will take you to get it. Literally, you won't see your kids, or anyone else except your cohort, teachers, and patients. If you can manage that then it's an option. But, from what you said about your situation, I wouldn't recommend it at all.
Last edit by RockSolid on Sep 4, '16