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. 12 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.
  10. by   NGONZO
    I have been a nurse for over 27 years now. And last year I signed up to return for my BSN. It's not easy at my age, I am 57. But I take one day at a time, only taking 2 classes at a time helps a lot. I am working to first get my BSN, then I'm going for my Masters in Health Informatics. This is a project for me, by me and all for me. So if you feel the need to go back, I say GO FOR IT GIRL. Be amazing at what you do.

    Good luck in all you do
    Nancy Gonzalez RN
  11. by   riggy3
    Obtaining the BSN is a long time recommendation by the NLN. When I started out in 1978 the NLN 1985 proposal was in place..... If you did not have a BSN in 1985 the thought was you no longer would be considered a Professional Nurse. We all know how that went the proposed changes were delayed again and again. Now the current NLN trend is by the year 2020, 80 % will have a BSN or MSN. The ADN and Diploma programs will essentially be eliminated.
    The Affordable Care Act of 2010 will influence greater education needs for the RN. Making the BSN even more necessary as responsibilities are increasing for the RN.
    Some states, New York and New Jersey, are working on legislation that will require a BSN in 10. The ten years is from the date of licensure will require a BSN.

    It is interesting to see the the major comment concerns of going back to school at 50 is more about cost, than the value added education brings to the Profession of Nursing.
    The hospital in our area currently will not offer a position without a BSN or some indication of enrollment in a BSN program.
    Most hospitals offer tuition assistance to return to school. My actual amount of cash out for my BSN was not that great and on completion allowed Career Ladder step pay increases of 5 to 10% .
    I started back to school at age 50 finished my BSN at 53 continued school finishing my MSN at age 56. I graduated with my MSN 30 years after starting as a Diploma RN. The added education did require effort to finish.... The accomplishment of the MSN gave me a great deal of satisfaction, also makes the available positions for a Registered Nurse much greater.
    My recommendation is to go back to school finish the BSN on to MSN. You will find the DNP or PhD will soon be the next goal on your mind.
    Never too late to go back to school.
    Last edit by riggy3 on May 26
  12. by   567 SeaOtter
    Hello OP.
    Your previous degree may advance you along quickly.
    I found a RN-BSN program that accepted much of my previous college work.
    Also, I used CLEP exams to test out and get course credit.

    I only had a few pre-reqs to get out of the the way before the nursing classes.

    My employer is requiring the BSN and they offer tuition assistance. A flexible manager helped when I needed a bit of time off here & there for classes.
    Finished the BSN in my mid- 50s. The whole thing took about a year and a half. I feel very employable, and also I feel very lucky to have supportive management and the generous tuition assistance benefits.
  13. by   sallyrnrrt
    My humble diploma program, plus next month 45 years in nursing, because of my experience....have been afforded many non bedside jobs as DON in various LTC?.....& I could return to our local community hospital ER tomorrow.......if I wanted to.......but at 68yr/age
    ... I see no reason ---- if I were younger I would definitely pursue higher degrees......but I enjoy what Ido in an integrated doctor office position...love my time off major holidays etc.........these old bones are relaxing wher I an.....but this situation is very geographic....

    I know "I'm a dieing breed", but my diploma program served me well......definite earned my crusty ole Bat title...best wishes
    Last edit by sallyrnrrt on May 27 : Reason: Sp
  14. by   englishgarden
    I would definitely encourage everyone to get their BSN degree. I just finished my MSN-Ed through UOP at age 55. There is a lot of competition in nursing and age discrimination can be a factor when looking for a job; better to have the advanced degree.
    Some of the traditional colleges will make you repeat your sciences if you graduated more than five years ago and take a year of foreign language. Sometimes in the long run it is lees expensive to earn your BSN online.

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