Nursing or medicine? BSN vs MSN; already overeduated.

  1. Hi all:

    As you can see, I am new poster/member of AllNurses. I have been working in the healthcare field, doing both local and international health as a medical assistant, phlebotomist, and clinic coordinator, all of it with the medically-underserved in the US and across the border in Mexico. After nearly 30 years, I would like to take the next step and further my career. So, I am considering either nursing or medicine. Having worked alongside nurses and physicians for decades,I have seen much of what each route offers. One of the reason that I like both of these fields is that I want a new career that allows me to make clinical level decisions, and to work both within and outside the U.S. For this reason, I have ruled out PA as I don't want to have to work under a doctor all the time and PA is not well understood outside the U.S. My personal preference is to go the nursing route as I prefer the nursing model, but I wondering if I might be overeducated. I already have 2 bachelor's degrees (a BA from one university and a BS from another university). Unfortunately, the science classes for the BS are 10 years out-of-date, so I am retaking them again. My only other concern is whether I can get a job as an much older (late 50s) new grad in nursing? I have already met one nurse who got her RN in her 60s and complained about not being able to find a job, which she attributes to her age. As far as the time is considered, I am willing to put in the years. (Lastly, I am not averse to going the MD/DO route.)
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    About Fermer

    Joined: Jan '18; Posts: 2
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

    10 Comments

  3. by   meanmaryjean
    Just in terms if time- MD/DO is REALLY stretching your timeline. A year or two to get your sciences updated and complete any med school prerequisites, four years of med school than then residency/ internship.

    The timeline is only slightly shorter for NP (clinical level decisions- I'm guessing you mean NP) -and you run into NP being not recognized / understood in every country. 3-4 years for RN, 1-3 years more for NP.

    RN you could be done in 3-ish years, depending on how quickly you get your sciences updated.

    Ageism IS a factor in hiring (legal or not), and you certainly do NOT want to go out in the field as a new grad.

    Lots to consider. I'm curious, what are your other degrees in?
  4. by   Sour Lemon
    The types of positions available to new grad nurses are often labor intensive with less desirable schedules. Little to no credit is given for "other" experience in the medical field. It's not something I'd choose to do if I would be graduating in my late 50s, but every individual is different.
    MD/DO seems like an insane dream to me considering your age, but there's probably someone, somewhere in the world who's managed to accomplish that, too.
  5. by   caliotter3
    Unfortunately, the age discrimination is going to be there, whether you choose this area or not. You could encounter it in any line of work. The story about workers having problems getting work starting in their forties is no myth. If you want to become a NP, then do so, but always be aware that once you have the credentials in hand, you will still face a labor market where age discrimination is nurtured.
  6. by   Here.I.Stand
    Why would you think you would be "too educated?" That's a very strange thing to say. I mean we're not talking about working as a personal care attendant with your nursing degree... You have no nursing degree. Once you complete the degree, you will be appropriately educated -- not overeducated in any accurate sense of the term.

    And if time is a factor, you should pick almost anything but medicine. Add your age + time to update your science classes + study and ace your MCAT + application process + 4 yrs med school + 4+ yrs for residency (during which you can expect to work 80+ hrs/week)......... THEN be hired as a staff physician.
  7. by   KatieMI
    Quote from Bricoleur
    Hi all:

    As you can see, I am new poster/member of AllNurses. I have been working in the healthcare field, doing both local and international health as a medical assistant, phlebotomist, and clinic coordinator, all of it with the medically-underserved in the US and across the border in Mexico. After nearly 30 years, I would like to take the next step and further my career. So, I am considering either nursing or medicine. Having worked alongside nurses and physicians for decades,I have seen much of what each route offers. One of the reason that I like both of these fields is that I want a new career that allows me to make clinical level decisions, and to work both within and outside the U.S. For this reason, I have ruled out PA as I don't want to have to work under a doctor all the time and PA is not well understood outside the U.S. My personal preference is to go the nursing route as I prefer the nursing model, but I wondering if I might be overeducated. I already have 2 bachelor's degrees (a BA from one university and a BS from another university). Unfortunately, the science classes for the BS are 10 years out-of-date, so I am retaking them again. My only other concern is whether I can get a job as an much older (late 50s) new grad in nursing? I have already met one nurse who got her RN in her 60s and complained about not being able to find a job, which she attributes to her age. As far as the time is considered, I am willing to put in the years. (Lastly, I am not averse to going the MD/DO route.)
    1). NP profession as it is understood in the US is, basically, not existing anywhere else in the World, leaving alone immigration issues. So, your dreams about working "both within and outside of the US" in this capacity will, for all probability, remain as such unless you're talking about some humanitarian/religious missions.
    2). You can NEVER be overeducated.
    3). Unless you have some independent source of money, you won't have time to make it sensible, in financial terms, to go to medical school. Med school means roughly 6 years with prereqs as bare minimum while you spend $100000+ doing so and at least 3 years after when you are paid just enough to cover basics (residency) with zero chances to do something on the side, as you're working at least 60 hours/week. If you're now about to cross your 50 birthday, you, under the best circumstances, will have only 15 years (counting you'll get done around you 60 birthday, plus working till you are 75) to deal with debths you are going to accomodate. Unless you can afford to pay for medical school completely out of pocket right now it is just not gonna happen. And I won't even go into what does it mean to work 60 to 80 hours/week while you are in your 50th.
    4). The age discrimination is common in nursing, as well as discrimination toward highly educated, mature new nurses just for the fact that they are highly educated and more mature.
    5). Your previous experiences will mean nothing for MD pathway and just a tad more for RN one (well, being phlebotomist might help a little).
    6). Overall, I would recommend, IF you can afford it without piling up more debths, ABSN program in a place which has reputable MSN program as well. Being streamlined from one to another will take as little as 3 years total full time (which is less than typical 4 to 5 years for direct-entry MSN) and you'll have full BSN degree which can be used. In addition, ABSN programs are typically more flexible and used to work with second-career students.
    7). You definitely can be hired as a new grad at the age of 50, but for the reasons mentioned above by myself and other posters I wouldn't suggest bedside nursing as an optimal route. With BSN, though, you'll have more choices even as a new grad.
  8. by   elkpark
    Quote from meanmaryjean
    The timeline is only slightly shorter for NP (clinical level decisions- I'm guessing you mean NP) -and you run into NP being not recognized / understood in every country. 3-4 years for RN, 1-3 years more for NP.
    Are you forgetting about the direct entry NP programs? Three years and done.
  9. by   meanmaryjean
    Quote from elkpark
    Are you forgetting about the direct entry NP programs? Three years and done.
    Not forgetting....just ignoring.
  10. by   db2xs
    Hello OP. Welcome to All Nurses. Awesome that you are forging ahead to go for your dreams. Here are my two cents' worth:

    Quote from Bricoleur
    One of the reason that I like both of these fields is that I want a new career that allows me to make clinical level decisions, and to work both within and outside the U.S. For this reason, I have ruled out PA as I don't want to have to work under a doctor all the time and PA is not well understood outside the U.S.
    Whether you are a PA or RN or NP, you will have to work under an MD. And as several people have stated, PAs and NPs both are not well understood or used outside the USA (I know a few number of countries are trying to implement the NP role, but it is not as prevalent as in the States).

    Quote from Bricoleur
    I wondering if I might be overeducated. I already have 2 bachelor's degrees (a BA from one university and a BS from another university).
    I wanted to echo what some other people have said: Overeducated for what? What are your other degrees in?

    Quote from Bricoleur
    Unfortunately, the science classes for the BS are 10 years out-of-date, so I am retaking them again.
    As a third-career nurse with no science background, I was able to do my science prereqs in 1.5 years full-time while working part-time.

    Quote from Bricoleur
    My only other concern is whether I can get a job as an much older (late 50s) new grad in nursing? I have already met one nurse who got her RN in her 60s and complained about not being able to find a job, which she attributes to her age. As far as the time is considered, I am willing to put in the years. (Lastly, I am not averse to going the MD/DO route.)
    You bring up a legitimate concern about hiring desirability related to your age. If you want to be an RN, there are accelerated BSN programs just under two years. If you want to be an APRN, there are direct-entry programs that are three years. PA school is about two or three years as well. If you take the MD/DO route, you may be in your early 70s by the time you complete everything. I say do the MD/DO route only if it's for personal learning because a person in their 70s is more likely to not get hired than someone in their early 60s.

    Hope this helps.
  11. by   Fermer
    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.
  12. by   adventure_rn
    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.
    Last edit by adventure_rn on Jan 22

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