Quote from Bricoleur
Thanks for all your help so far. What I meant by overeducated, was that I already have too many degrees and I wonder whether admission committees would wonder why someone with 2 bachelors degrees and so much time, would want to go to nursing school now and not earlier. So, why did I do this earlier: (1) because I did not think I was smart enough; (2) I let my NGO work consume my time and life: Although I live in the U.S., the people who run the NGO are highly-dependent on me as their OR guy. I've tried retraining replacements, but the replacements never last. (Being able to say "no" has never been easy for me.)
I understand the issue with the NP, like physician assistant, being an America-only degree. However, in addition to being an NP, I can be an RN, which is generally universally recognized, so I can continue to do international health work as an RN, which is fine with me. (Indeed, some international NGOs, like Doctors Without Borders, won't take on PAs as workers, but they will accept nurses.) I could do NP within the U.S., but work as an OR nurse internationally.
I understand the risks of being older, but given that I have almost exclusively worked with the poor and medically-neglected populations (such as the homeless, day laborers, farmworkers, in both the U.S. and Mexico), I might be able to get a nurse job working with these populations as an NP in the U.S.
I also worked in global health before nursing, and I found that the RN role was much more widely recognized than any of the advanced practice nursing roles (NP, CRNA, CNM, etc.) Some organizations will recognize it, and others won't. It appears that MSF is now accepting NPs (still no PAs), although I don't know if their NPs practice in a true NP capacity or as RNs.
Registered Nurses / Nurse Practitioners | MSF USA
One prior poster mentioned direct-entry NP programs, which are highly controversial on this site and have their own host of problems and risks (including difficulty finding employment, in addition to your ageism concerns). A direct entry program would allow you to become an NP more quickly (~3 years); however, I definitely wouldn't bypass bedside nursing via a direct entry NP program if you anticipate that you'll be working in an RN capacity on global health projects.
If you wanted to work in an OR nurse capacity internationally and an NP role domestically, you'd first have to get experience as an OR nurse before NP school. Having an NP (or even an RN) degree without actual OR experience would be pretty useless for NGOs. Most NGOs require that you have a certain number of years of bedside experience in your specialty before you're able to volunteer, since they need people who are able to hit the ground running and don't require an extensive clinical orientation. Having OR experience as an RN likely wouldn't be very helpful as an NP candidate, since the roles are so vastly different. OR nursing is also a competitive field to break into, so it may take you several months or even years of applications to get an OR residency after you graduate.
Operating Room Nurses | MSF USA
In the scenario you've described, that would mean that you'd spend 1-2 years on pre-reqs, 1-2 years on nursing school, and 2 years getting bedside RN experience before you'd even be eligible to volunteer for global organizations. Then you'd spend 2 years getting an NP degree, and potentially 2 more years getting NP experience before being eligible to volunteer as an NP for global organizations. I believe that MDs volunteering for these organizations also need a certain number of years following their residency before they can apply.
You may already be aware, but it sounds as though you'd be a candidate to work on projects like MSF at a coordinator level given your extensive background. I'm not sure if that would interest you at all.
I understand what you mean about the additional bachelor's degrees, although some people may find the phrase 'over-educated' offensive. As others have said, you can never have too much education. I had a friend with 2 bachelor's degrees (one in Biology and another in Clinical Laboratory Sciences) who wanted to be a nurse, but refused to 'waste time' on a third bachelor's degree and instead went to med school; I think that's a ridiculous reason to attend med school and is purely a matter of ego, but it isn't my life or my student loan debt so to each her own.
Nursing admissions committees love people with diverse backgrounds. I'm sure they'd appreciate your healthcare background, and you could elaborate on why you want to make this career change in your essays. My ABSN programs only included second-degree students; many had graduate degrees (in all kinds of random fields) and one had a PhD.