Hey Nurse Beth.... I'm a licensed psychologist working for a federal agency. I've been thinking about lack of job flexibility as I get older, with plans to work a long time because I'm in great health and have no reason to stop. I've also developed a great love for working with mind/body conditions (board certified in biofeedback and lots of experience now with chronic pain, insomnia, and all kinds of stress-related disorders), and I've begun to really thinking about a career change to nursing. If I got into school in the next couple of years (and truly left my other career behind), I'd have an Associates and be starting as a new nurse in my late 50s. It's a late start and a big pay cut. But I think I'd love the work (probably in a local hospital setting depending on what opportunities are there) and would be in it for the long haul. I've been a psychologist for 22 years. Any thoughts? Is this a crazy idea? Signed...not actually a nursing student yet
Dear From Psychologist to RN,
Wow, you would bring so,so much to your nursing practice with your background, depending on the setting you work in.
But I just want to be sure you aren't setting yourself up for disappointment. Many nursing students have a romanticized idea of nursing until they're smack dab in the middle of a 12-hour shift with a blood transfusion and an infiltrated IV, a fresh post-op patient needing narcotics with a worrisome looking abdomen, 3 patients in isolation, and a patient who may or not be in early sepsis.
It's entirely possible to be therapeutic (we all try to be) but not to actively practice biofeedback and alternative interventions, much as we'd like to. Unfortunately, hospitalized patients are discharged at the earliest possible moment, leaving scant time for effective patient education.
Now that's in the hospital setting, and there are other settings that are not as intense.
As far as getting an Associate's degree, I'd go for an accelerated Bachelor's program with your educational background. An Associate's degree in nursing can be very limiting as far as job opportunities.
Starting in your late 50s depends a lot on your "real" age. Everyone is different. I landed a job I had only dreamed of at an age older than that
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!