50 Yr Old Experienced RN; Should I go back to school for my BSN or MSN?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,
    Trying to decide if I should go back to school to earn my bachelors or Masters. I am 50 years old and I have been an RN for 10 years. Previous to that I was a social worker for 15 years and I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. I am curious about my future job prospects in nursing and how difficult it might be to get a job without a BSN as I age. Frankly going back to school seems daunting to me at this point, but since I know I will have to work 15 more years or so, I am trying to realistic. Will I someday be an un-hireable 58 year-old associate's degree nurse?



    Dear Realistic,

    You are right to be concerned and realistic. If you want to qualify for a non-bedside role
    down the road, you will need a Bachelor's in Nursing.

    You may be able to find an accelerated Bachelor's program because you already have a degree, or consider an ADN-to-MSN program (which would take longer).

    There’s a good forum here on allnurses that talks about different programs.

    I would really shop around and discover all the options, but move forward in your education.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   amoLucia
    Dear Beth - I think you need to take your advice another step beyond.

    The biggest concern I would caution OP about would be about taking on too much debt at this stage of her career. I'll definitely concede that a BSN will be most advantageous for any of her long range job prospects.

    But it needs to be remembered that she has a prior Bachelor's degree so her ability to finance some loans might be limited. Acquiring a BSN is prob not too problematic at this time. But the bigger concern would be how to finance a Master's.

    Considering that she has approx 12 to 15 + years remaining for her working career opp'ties, will she be able to pay back any considerable debt? Enough to retire comfortably? So unless she has some big retirement nest egg socked away, she will really need to crunch the numbers and weight out her options.

    Will she be able to find a job that meets her needs and liking for the duration of her career? The Master's degree would offer her the most safe hedge for her future. Hopefully, no serious catastrophic life-changing event befalls her. But life has a funny way of happening all on its own despite well made plans. And having debt equates with having to work.

    And then there is the reality that pursuing a degree means setting aside the time & effort to achieve it. OP has to consider that also.

    So unless she finds educational pathways that are reasonably affordable in proportion to her work/job (real time and future), she has a lot to think about in that BIG picture.

    I do wish well to anyone thinking along this line in the circumstances that face OP. Daunting decision making at best.
  4. by   CrunchRN
    Love your response. I am a 54 year old ADN and this is a concern for me also. I have no debt other than a mortgage and don't want any. Also, I have aging parents and only so much time and money to devote to things that may or may not pay off.
  5. by   amoLucia
    To Crunch - BSN. HERE. TO. STAY. So for anyone (in OP's situation or NOT) I support pursuing a BSN. NOT a second thought about it. With a lot of planning and tweaking some life-style changes, it can prob be done not too painfully. In order for a nurse to secure a nsg future, it DOES require the right combination of education and experience for job stability, promotions, better compensation, etc. Best to get it done as soon as possible (one thing to remember - it'll never be any cheaper and you'll only be older!)!!!

    Seriously, all it takes is for one to trip over a pet cat or stumble on the bottom basement step with the laundry basket to LITERALLY stop one in their tracks. And NO pun intended here.

    Your post links into my line of thinking exactly. If advanced education can be worked in, do it too. Again, ASAP. But it does take preplanning and support systems in place.

    I truly respect and admire those who've done it.
  6. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from amoLucia
    Dear Beth - I think you need to take your advice another step beyond.

    The biggest concern I would caution OP about would be about taking on too much debt at this stage of her career. I'll definitely concede that a BSN will be most advantageous for any of her long range job prospects.

    But it needs to be remembered that she has a prior Bachelor's degree so her ability to finance some loans might be limited. Acquiring a BSN is prob not too problematic at this time. But the bigger concern would be how to finance a Master's.

    Considering that she has approx 12 to 15 + years remaining for her working career opp'ties, will she be able to pay back any considerable debt? Enough to retire comfortably? So unless she has some big retirement nest egg socked away, she will really need to crunch the numbers and weight out her options.

    Will she be able to find a job that meets her needs and liking for the duration of her career? The Master's degree would offer her the most safe hedge for her future. Hopefully, no serious catastrophic life-changing event befalls her. But life has a funny way of happening all on its own despite well made plans. And having debt equates with having to work.

    And then there is the reality that pursuing a degree means setting aside the time & effort to achieve it. OP has to consider that also.

    So unless she finds educational pathways that are reasonably affordable in proportion to her work/job (real time and future), she has a lot to think about in that BIG picture.

    I do wish well to anyone thinking along this line in the circumstances that face OP. Daunting decision making at best.
    ,
    It is a daunting decision and a daunting situation.

    I receive so, so many questions like this one "I am older, have an ADN and want to leave the bedside (or need to leave the bedside). What should I do?"

    A friend of mine in her 50's is a nurse manager but doesn't like the job as administration keeps adding pressure to meet HCAPs scores and other performance metrics. She worked ICU a few years ago but knows she can't return to the floor and 12 hour shifts. She has her ADN but does not want to go back and get her BSN. May I say she is a talented nurse and nurse manager.

    We sat and talked for awhile, and considered her options- there are very few desirable options for her with an ADN only. She feels trapped. What should she do?

    Getting your BSN at a state university is often much less expensive than most private online schools. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, and many programs are designed to accommodate the adult, working nurse.
  7. by   gettingbsn2msn
    I do not want to hear anybody at 50 is too old to go back to school I was 50 years old and in a MSN program getting my NP degree. I am now going to be 57 this year and opened my own practice in January. So so happy to be out of the hospital arena!!!!!
  8. by   Spangle Brown
    At her age, I would not even look at the private schools. They are to costly. However, some community colleges have BSN programs. The CC programs are the cheapest way to go. Most BSN programs are on line. Many different options out there. Google is your friend. Try searching for RN-BSN prgraoms in your state, focus on State run schools and check outCommunity colleges for the price savings. maybe talk to some of the new graduate nurses to see what options they are considering.
  9. by   thayden
    i want to thank those that commented on my question. I thought I would share that I have decided to pursue getting my Bachelor's degree online. Since I only have like 9 (or so) courses left I figure this will be the easiest (and cheapest) path to staying employed as I grow older. The rumblings around the hospital where I work is that they want nurses to have their BSN or be enrolled in a BSN program by 2020. So if I want to keep being a nurse the decision is already made, so to speak.... Now to just take a deep breath and get going..... currently I am working with Thomas Edison State University for review of my transcripts and hopefully take the plunge this September.

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