I would think long and hard about it. I was in a similar position several years ago and decided to go the nursing route. I had taken some time off from my prior career after having my children and was working in a family business that offered more flexibility related to child care. Once my children were both in school, it was back to my former career or give nursing a try. After 3 years of school (including pre-reqs), 9 months post graduation, hundreds of applications later and I still don't have a job. Is it the economy? Maybe. My age? In my early 40's, I'd hate to think that but I have heard that from some. Is it my lack of prior healthcare experience? That could be, too. Just some things to consider.
At this point, if I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn't. At the very least, I would have been more proactive about finding a healthcare related position while in school. (Although I know a CNA and someone that worked in a physicians office while in school, they've just been able to find jobs in the past 2 months and one of those is not an ideal situation.) Of course, if I were to land a job tomorrow, I'd probably feel differently. One of the things that struck me about your post is that you want your time away from your family to be worth something. Nursing school
was much more difficult than obtaining my first degree and I gave up a lot of family activities and outings to do well and succeed. So far those sacrifices have not paid off.
I'm currently pursuing positions in both nursing and my prior career. I've come to the conclusion that neither is perfect; they both have their pros and cons. I love nursing. Even as a student I found it very rewarding. If I could find my dream job, I'd probably be quite happy. Nights/weekends/holidays don't thrill me to death, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for a job that I enjoy. 3 12 hours shifts in a hospital setting is attractive. 5 8 hour shifts working 3-11 or 11-7 in LTC not so much (though I've applied to those, too). My old career isn't looking so bad these days. I've discovered that the position I hold doesn't define me, it's what enables me to enjoy those things that are important to me - namely my family and children. I'm fine with the salary reduction, but tuition, books, unemployment (although I continued working while in nursing school, I have since been laid off) is starting to take its toll. While our hearts may be in the right place, the reality of it has been quite different.
I don't want to dissuade you from pursuing nursing, if you feel it will truly make you happy. Just trying to point out some of the things I wish I had considered in more depth before giving up so much.