Midlife Career Change to Nursing - Advice, please

  1. 0
    Hi all,

    I'm a 42-year-old lawyer who's seriously considering making a career change to the nursing field. (I've been an unhappy lawyer, in several different law positions, for 18 years now...). I am looking for a career that allow flexibility in scheduling and geographic location (although I am by necessity in the NYC area now as I have two aging parents) as well as an active, on-my-feet kind of job that involves significant person-to-person contact, and nursing seems to fit that bill.

    I'd still need to get my pre-reqs done (as all my science classes from college are too old to be considered, unfortunately) and then would go for an accelerated BSN degree.

    What I'm suddenly concerned about is an article I've read as well as posts I've read here which all state that there truly is no nursing shortage and jobs are very hard to come by, especially for new nurses. Can anyone give me any advice about that?

    Thanks so much
  2. 73 Comments so far...

  3. 10
    Whether or not there's a nursing shortage depends on your geographic area and willingness to relocate. Honestly, it seems like anywhere that most people would actually want to live (such as NYC or California) - jobs are hard to come by. If you live in BFE, Virginia, you'll have no trouble finding a job - even with an ADN.

    I can certainly appreciate needing a career change, just realize that you will not get the professional respect or courtesy that you may be used to - or may be expecting. Nurses may rank highly in public esteem polls, but the reality on the floor is something different entirely.
    Bortaz, RN, brian, Soon2BNurse3, and 7 others like this.
  4. 6
    It is very true that CURRENTLY there is no shortage of nurses. There is, in fact, a huge glut of unemployed new grads who have searched in vain for months and even years for positions. There are some rural pockets of America apparently that still hire new grads.

    Having said that, the aging populations of both nurses and Americans points to an inevitable change in that situation. It's anyone's guess as to when that shift will start.

    In your favor is a current trend toward legal nursing positions. You've got one half of that nailed down - you just need some years of nursing experience to be able to open your own practice in that arena. And sorry to say, a few years on a nursing floor may just cause you to run towards a non-hospital based career.
    brian, salvadordolly, Marshall1, and 3 others like this.
  5. 7
    Also consider that your pay will be very low compared to your earnings now.
    JZ_RN, Soon2BNurse3, Marshall1, and 4 others like this.
  6. 2
    Thanks all -- to be honest, it's somewhat a misconception that lawyers are treated with respect as well. In the field I'm in (entertainment), clients treat lawyers like their servants. So I'm used to it! And I've calculated my pay per hours worked, and it comes to about $40/hr, so although I will be making less, I will also be working fewer hours, which is actually another part of the reason for the change.
    HomaShahabzadah and brian like this.
  7. 4
    Quote from VANurse2010
    If you live in BFE, Virginia

    Haha. Been a long time since I've heard BFE, that is if you meant what I'm assuming


    OP, If I were you I would not pursue nursing.
    captain-janeway, seanynjboy, Fiona59, and 1 other like this.
  8. 3
    Quote from mcgocara31
    Thanks all -- to be honest, it's somewhat a misconception that lawyers are treated with respect as well. In the field I'm in (entertainment), clients treat lawyers like their servants. So I'm used to it! And I've calculated my pay per hours worked, and it comes to about $40/hr, so although I will be making less, I will also be working fewer hours, which is actually another part of the reason for the change.
    How about $20 per hour in some of the places that might be hiring nurses. You'd have to move as well. Not saying that you won't find a better paying job, but know that is out there. Also, your law experience will not be given any consideration as "work" experience. It'll be like this is your first job ever in the minds of recruiters. Clean slate. Lots of people change careers to nursing, and it's been the same for them if they have a non healthcare degree. All your past might get you is some college transfer units to your nursing degree. Nurses are a dime a dozen now.
    Marshall1, Fiona59, and anotherone like this.
  9. 12
    Nursing is a troubled industry these days. There absolutely, positively IS NO "shortage" right now and the job outlook, especially for new grads, is bleak and will be for a while. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but nursing is in no way what it used to be. Your perspective is noble, but not realistic. Peruse this forum carefully, talk with nurses and maybe shadow a few if you can. You'll see quickly - it's not the cheerful, active, helping profession it once was.

    Your experience and age would both help and hinder you; bringing on a 45 year old former lawyer with no nursing experience is a gamble for any employer. A lot of nurses in that age range are almost expected to have or be pursuing a Masters degree. And right now the market is clogged with new grads, a good portion of them 40-something "2nd careerists." When the recession hit, scores of people ran to nursing, believing it to be a "recession proof" vocation that was about helping people. Again, read this forum carefully and you'll see many posts from those very people who are now unemployed, in debt and cannot find work.

    Nursing's career track today looks roughly like this:
    Languish on a college waiting list to be accepted, 1-2 years;
    Toil away for 2-4 years in a brutal, competitive nursing program;
    Pass NCLEX;
    Begin job hunt;
    After several months to a year maybe find a nursing home/HH agency that will hire new grads;
    Put your time in the trenches passing meds, dealing with psychotic families and 40:1 ratios, and Medicare fraud, 1-2 years;
    Maybe land a hospital job with a decent Magnet joint that hires BSNs;
    Work a med surg floor 12 hour nights to start;
    Be forced into OT because of the documentation demands, be chewed up and spit out by more experienced nurses and snotty managers, your back and feet get destroyed from the physical expectations, and be worked to death by management who have profit in mind over people, be treated like a glorified waitress, multiple UTIs from holding pee for hours, 2-4 years;
    Burn out;
    Make another career change, or go for a Masters to get into management or teaching
    By then, you'll be what age?

    Compound this with your aging parent situation.

    Still appeal to you?

    Again I'm sorry to be so blunt. I'm not cynical, I'm a realist. I went to BSN school at the age of 32 after 10 years in IT. Graduated in 2007 and have had very good luck because I managed to sneak in under the door pre-recession. I've keenly observed how drastically the profession has changed in just 6 years. I think at some point the baby boomers will finally retire like we thought they would pre-recession, but the turnaround will be slow. Obamacare will also place more emphasis on preventative care - and I anticipate nursing education to scramble to adapt their model to prepare students for that.

    If you still want to go for it, at your age with your law experience, I'd go for an MSN with a strong concentration on Public and Community health nursing & case management. It'll be nurses with that training who will be sorely needed once O-care kicks the dollars down to fund community clinics and preventative health education.

    Hope this helps. Good luck to you.
  10. 7
    Quote from netglow

    How about $20 per hour in some of the places that might be hiring nurses. You'd have to move as well. Not saying that you won't find a better paying job, but know that is out there. Also, your law experience will not be given any consideration as "work" experience. It'll be like this is your first job ever in the minds of recruiters. Clean slate. Lots of people change careers to nursing, and it's been the same for them if they have a non healthcare degree. All your past might get you is some college transfer units to your nursing degree. Nurses are a dime a dozen now.
    Also agree on this. I've been a BSN RN, with a PHN license and two specialty board certifications for 6 years, and I JUST started making over $40/hr in case management. I made peanuts for years and was ridden like a mule. Nursing has wrecked my health and aged me 20 years, I swear. I want to get my Masters but I'm just too exhausted.
    LifeLearner776, Marshall1, Fiona59, and 4 others like this.
  11. 8
    Sounds like nurses are about as happy as a group as lawyers.
    Last edit by mcgocara31 on Mar 22, '13
    rn2b513, brian, seanynjboy, and 5 others like this.


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