A nursing student at 48. My journey could be yours...

by sewnmom

21,206 Views | 67 Comments

This is my story and what brought me to this point in my life. While our stories are all unique, maybe you are thinking of a similiar journey. I am so happy I made the LEAP into nursing. Maybe it is right for you too - but you won't know unless you try!

  1. 17

    A nursing student at 48. My journey could be yours...

    In my 49 years of life I have had many life-changing events as we all do. I was born the eldest of two children. My younger brother was born in 1963 and diagnosed as “severely mentally retarded,” a vegetable that would never walk or talk. Danny proved them all wrong. My parents brought him home rather than institutionalizing him. Did my parents know the force of nature contained within their tiny frail son with the oversized head? I don’t think anyone knew what was in store for any of us – only Danny knew.

    He learned to walk then he ran everywhere. When he was 19, Danny had a stroke. He was in a wheelchair which did not slow him down. The wheeled instrument just got him to his destination faster, running over anything in his way.

    I grew up with my brother as a constant companion and shadow. To his chagrin, I went off to college leaving him behind. He became a resident at Allegheny Valley School where he was happy in his own world at the Brown House. I got married and had four children. He was happy for the marriage (he brought twenty of his closest friends to the reception) and loved my children. They adored their Uncle Danny. During this time my mother had several heart attacks and my dad was having health issues. I felt like a true part of the sandwich generation, but mine was a triple- decker with brother and his issues. My parents were not able to be with him in the hospital each time he was there. The hospital was close to my home so I took over.

    Danny could not communicate verbally. One had to be in tune with him to understand him. A staff member from his school would try to come and help out but it just didn’t always happen. Some of the nurses figured out how to communicate with him immediately. These would be the “good” visits. He would co-operate with them in his care and recuperate enough to go home to AVS. If the nurse made no effort or poor effort to communicate with Danny, it just did not go well at all. He was frightened and would not do as instructed. He refused to eat and drink. I was called in to get him to comply.

    The next year found Danny in the hospital more than he was out. By this time he was totally paralyzed except for some movement in his neck. The level of care and his response to care came down to one thing: the nurse and her willingness to decipher him. I stayed with him many nights. I saw things with his care that enraged me and other that touched my heart. I did not set out to be his advocate. Danny had his parents and AVS staff to be his voice. Since I was put into this role unexpectedly, I did what any mom has trained herself to do. I stepped up the challenge and become a loud voice that everyone heard. I took this job seriously and addressed every issue with his care in a professional manner with the staff at the hospitals.

    Danny passed away in March of 2010 at 46 years of age. He was in the hospital on a ventilator and with a temporary pacemaker. I was with him for his last conscious moments, singing the Sponge Bob song to him with the staff of the care unit singing along. Danny slipped into a coma from which he never awoke. I am so thankful that his last stay in the care unit was with some of the most skilled and caring staff we had ever met. Life support was disconnected the next day with family, friends and AVS staff there with Danny.

    During the last two years of Danny’s life I had been thinking a lot about my own life. What was I going to do when my last child was old enough to not need me all the time? My identity was as their mom, no longer an engineer or a professional woman. I thought maybe nursing was for me. I called the local community college to find out about how I could enroll. I was told I had to retake my Biology class because it was too old. Umm, no thank you. Maybe I was too old and a career in retail was in the future for me. I just knew I wanted to be in the medical field and with people. Nursing was what I wanted but having to retake that stupid biology class was annoying.

    I just kept thinking about nursing. My oldest daughter insisted that I reconsider the biology requirement. She insisted on driving me to campus that day where I met with an advisor. I found that I only needed a few classes to apply to the nursing program. My first semester took care of all of my prerequisites and I scored well on the required entrance exam. I applied to the CCAC nursing program the next semester. I continued with my co-requisites not knowing if I would make the cut into their competitive program. Studying was difficult being a full time mom, especially with four teens in the house!

    My acceptance letter came just weeks later. I was 48 years old and I was a nursing student! My family was overjoyed and extremely supportive. I started nursing school in August of 2011 with ananticipated graduation date of May 2013.

    This story is not over yet. There is more to come but so much has happened during my first year of nursing school. I was accepted into the honors program which requires special projects or designated honors courses to maintain the honors distinction for graduation. My first semester project was on platinum drug therapy. My second semester was supposed to be a continuation of that project. On a pediatric rotation everything changed and my topic became advocacy for the developmentally disabled adult. At the end of the semester, I presented my project to my entire class. They learned a lot about me that day but more than anything else, many were introduced to the challenges of working with a developmentally disabled adult patient.

    My facebook updates are often about the demands of my nursing school schedule. Many friends or acquaintances will pull me aside and ask how hard going back to school really is. I tell everyone it is hard, no doubt, but worth every effort. I encourage anyone that will listen to make the first step - the rest will fall into place. I warn that going into nursing school is like jumping into a raging rapid. If you hang on, it is an exciting ride!

    My kids joke that they can see if the part on my head moves because my nose is always in a book these days. They know I am in the stands at their games but I am more than likely toting a book or pda to study during down time. They are proud of me and more supportive that I could have ever imagined. I was elected President of my nursing class and completed my first year of the nursing program.

    I am not only learning to be an advocate for all of my patients as I did for my brother, but also for those that are thinking about a life-changing direction in life. I am 49 years old and halfway through nursing school. This is not where I would have imagined to be at this stage in life.

    I can offer advice to anyone that is thinking of going back to school. Do it!

    You have nothing to lose and if you put forth the effort your life experience can serve you well in your journey. If you are contemplating a career change to nursing, call local schools to see what you need to do to get into the program. Then you have to make that one big leap – DO IT! If it is in yourheart, go for it. You will never know if you don’t try. Be ready to work and drive hard. It can be done. I will finishmy program when I am 50 years old. I will then be embarking on a new career after being a stay at home mom for over21 years!

    I could never have imagined this is where I would be now, but it is.

    It could be for you, too!
    Last edit by Joe V on May 23, '12
    LoveTaper89, kay0324, ~miss_mercy_me, and 14 others like this.
  2. Read more articles from sewnmom

  3. About sewnmom

    I was the stay at home mom of four (ages 21, 19, 17 and 15) for over 20 years. I decided to not return to my previous engineering career and make a complete 180 degree change in careers. I chose nursing and have not regretted it. I have doubted my sanity at times but know this was the right choice for me.

    sewnmom joined Mar '11 - from 'Pittsburgh, PA'. Posts: 88 Likes: 63; Learn more about sewnmom by visiting their allnursesPage


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    67 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    As you said everyones story is different. At age 49 I found myself at a career crossroads. Having lost my job in I.T. and my marriage on the rocks, I decided that a career chage was in order. Nursing is something that has always been of interest to me. I come from a family of service (mother was LPN, 2 sisters who are RN's, teachers, priests...). So, at age 50, I started my prereq's. There were many times when I thought I would give up. Working full time in a hospital as a nursing assistant and going to school is what 20 somethings do. Not 50 year old divorced men!

    Now here it is 4 years later and I just completed my second semester of nursing school. It is indeed the most difficult, financially challenging thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding. I will be graduating in May, 2013 and after the birth of my children, it will be the proudest day of my life.

    If you're a little older and feel that it's too hard or that you'll be too old when you graduate think of this...you'll be too old anyway so you may as well do something with the time. I can't think of anything better than training yourself to be in service to others.

    Quote from sewnmom
    In my 49 years of life I have had many life-changing events as we all do. I was born the eldest of two children. My younger brother was born in 1963 and diagnosed as “severely mentally retarded,” a vegetable that would never walk or talk. Danny proved them all wrong. My parents brought him home rather than institutionalizing him. Did my parents know the force of nature contained within their tiny frail son with the oversized head? I don’t think anyone knew what was in store for any of us – only Danny knew.

    He learned to walk then he ran everywhere. When he was 19, Danny had a stroke. He was in a wheelchair which did not slow him down. The wheeled instrument just got him to his destination faster, running over anything in his way.

    I grew up with my brother as a constant companion and shadow. To his chagrin, I went off to college leaving him behind. He became a resident at Allegheny Valley School where he was happy in his own world at the Brown House. I got married and had four children. He was happy for the marriage (he brought twenty of his closest friends to the reception) and loved my children. They adored their Uncle Danny. During this time my mother had several heart attacks and my dad was having health issues. I felt like a true part of the sandwich generation, but mine was a triple- decker with brother and his issues. My parents were not able to be with him in the hospital each time he was there. The hospital was close to my home so I took over.

    Danny could not communicate verbally. One had to be in tune with him to understand him. A staff member from his school would try to come and help out but it just didn’t always happen. Some of the nurses figured out how to communicate with him immediately. These would be the “good” visits. He would co-operate with them in his care and recuperate enough to go home to AVS. If the nurse made no effort or poor effort to communicate with Danny, it just did not go well at all. He was frightened and would not do as instructed. He refused to eat and drink. I was called in to get him to comply.

    The next year found Danny in the hospital more than he was out. By this time he was totally paralyzed except for some movement in his neck. The level of care and his response to care came down to one thing: the nurse and her willingness to decipher him. I stayed with him many nights. I saw things with his care that enraged me and other that touched my heart. I did not set out to be his advocate. Danny had his parents and AVS staff to be his voice. Since I was put into this role unexpectedly, I did what any mom has trained herself to do. I stepped up the challenge and become a loud voice that everyone heard. I took this job seriously and addressed every issue with his care in a professional manner with the staff at the hospitals.

    Danny passed away in March of 2010 at 46 years of age. He was in the hospital on a ventilator and with a temporary pacemaker. I was with him for his last conscious moments, singing the Sponge Bob song to him with the staff of the care unit singing along. Danny slipped into a coma from which he never awoke. I am so thankful that his last stay in the care unit was with some of the most skilled and caring staff we had ever met. Life support was disconnected the next day with family, friends and AVS staff there with Danny.

    During the last two years of Danny’s life I had been thinking a lot about my own life. What was I going to do when my last child was old enough to not need me all the time? My identity was as their mom, no longer an engineer or a professional woman. I thought maybe nursing was for me. I called the local community college to find out about how I could enroll. I was told I had to retake my Biology class because it was too old. Umm, no thank you. Maybe I was too old and a career in retail was in the future for me. I just knew I wanted to be in the medical field and with people. Nursing was what I wanted but having to retake that stupid biology class was annoying.

    I just kept thinking about nursing. My oldest daughter insisted that I reconsider the biology requirement. She insisted on driving me to campus that day where I met with an advisor. I found that I only needed a few classes to apply to the nursing program. My first semester took care of all of my prerequisites and I scored well on the required entrance exam. I applied to the CCAC nursing program the next semester. I continued with my co-requisites not knowing if I would make the cut into their competitive program. Studying was difficult being a full time mom, especially with four teens in the house!

    My acceptance letter came just weeks later. I was 48 years old and I was a nursing student! My family was overjoyed and extremely supportive. I started nursing school in August of 2011 with ananticipated graduation date of May 2013.

    This story is not over yet. There is more to come but so much has happened during my first year of nursing school. I was accepted into the honors program which requires special projects or designated honors courses to maintain the honors distinction for graduation. My first semester project was on platinum drug therapy. My second semester was supposed to be a continuation of that project. On a pediatric rotation everything changed and my topic became advocacy for the developmentally disabled adult. At the end of the semester, I presented my project to my entire class. They learned a lot about me that day but more than anything else, many were introduced to the challenges of working with a developmentally disabled adult patient.

    My facebook updates are often about the demands of my nursing school schedule. Many friends or acquaintances will pull me aside and ask how hard going back to school really is. I tell everyone it is hard, no doubt, but worth every effort. I encourage anyone that will listen to make the first step - the rest will fall into place. I warn that going into nursing school is like jumping into a raging rapid. If you hang on, it is an exciting ride!

    My kids joke that they can see if the part on my head moves because my nose is always in a book these days. They know I am in the stands at their games but I am more than likely toting a book or pda to study during down time. They are proud of me and more supportive that I could have ever imagined. I was elected President of my nursing class and completed my first year of the nursing program.

    I am not only learning to be an advocate for all of my patients as I did for my brother, but also for those that are thinking about a life-changing direction in life. I am 49 years old and halfway through nursing school. This is not where I would have imagined to be at this stage in life.

    I can offer advice to anyone that is thinking of going back to school. Do it!

    You have nothing to lose and if you put forth the effort your life experience can serve you well in your journey. If you are contemplating a career change to nursing, call local schools to see what you need to do to get into the program. Then you have to make that one big leap – DO IT! If it is in yourheart, go for it. You will never know if you don’t try. Be ready to work and drive hard. It can be done. I will finishmy program when I am 50 years old. I will then be embarking on a new career after being a stay at home mom for over21 years!

    I could never have imagined this is where I would be now, but it is.

    It could be for you, too!
    liebling5 and annlewis like this.
  5. 0
    Quote from sewnmom
    In my 49 years of life I have had many life-changing events as we all do. I was born the eldest of two children. My younger brother was born in 1963 and diagnosed as “severely mentally retarded,” a vegetable that would never walk or talk. Danny proved them all wrong. My parents brought him home rather than institutionalizing him. Did my parents know the force of nature contained within their tiny frail son with the oversized head? I don’t think anyone knew what was in store for any of us – only Danny knew.

    He learned to walk then he ran everywhere. When he was 19, Danny had a stroke. He was in a wheelchair which did not slow him down. The wheeled instrument just got him to his destination faster, running over anything in his way.

    I grew up with my brother as a constant companion and shadow. To his chagrin, I went off to college leaving him behind. He became a resident at Allegheny Valley School where he was happy in his own world at the Brown House. I got married and had four children. He was happy for the marriage (he brought twenty of his closest friends to the reception) and loved my children. They adored their Uncle Danny. During this time my mother had several heart attacks and my dad was having health issues. I felt like a true part of the sandwich generation, but mine was a triple- decker with brother and his issues. My parents were not able to be with him in the hospital each time he was there. The hospital was close to my home so I took over.

    Danny could not communicate verbally. One had to be in tune with him to understand him. A staff member from his school would try to come and help out but it just didn’t always happen. Some of the nurses figured out how to communicate with him immediately. These would be the “good” visits. He would co-operate with them in his care and recuperate enough to go home to AVS. If the nurse made no effort or poor effort to communicate with Danny, it just did not go well at all. He was frightened and would not do as instructed. He refused to eat and drink. I was called in to get him to comply.

    The next year found Danny in the hospital more than he was out. By this time he was totally paralyzed except for some movement in his neck. The level of care and his response to care came down to one thing: the nurse and her willingness to decipher him. I stayed with him many nights. I saw things with his care that enraged me and other that touched my heart. I did not set out to be his advocate. Danny had his parents and AVS staff to be his voice. Since I was put into this role unexpectedly, I did what any mom has trained herself to do. I stepped up the challenge and become a loud voice that everyone heard. I took this job seriously and addressed every issue with his care in a professional manner with the staff at the hospitals.

    Danny passed away in March of 2010 at 46 years of age. He was in the hospital on a ventilator and with a temporary pacemaker. I was with him for his last conscious moments, singing the Sponge Bob song to him with the staff of the care unit singing along. Danny slipped into a coma from which he never awoke. I am so thankful that his last stay in the care unit was with some of the most skilled and caring staff we had ever met. Life support was disconnected the next day with family, friends and AVS staff there with Danny.

    During the last two years of Danny’s life I had been thinking a lot about my own life. What was I going to do when my last child was old enough to not need me all the time? My identity was as their mom, no longer an engineer or a professional woman. I thought maybe nursing was for me. I called the local community college to find out about how I could enroll. I was told I had to retake my Biology class because it was too old. Umm, no thank you. Maybe I was too old and a career in retail was in the future for me. I just knew I wanted to be in the medical field and with people. Nursing was what I wanted but having to retake that stupid biology class was annoying.

    I just kept thinking about nursing. My oldest daughter insisted that I reconsider the biology requirement. She insisted on driving me to campus that day where I met with an advisor. I found that I only needed a few classes to apply to the nursing program. My first semester took care of all of my prerequisites and I scored well on the required entrance exam. I applied to the CCAC nursing program the next semester. I continued with my co-requisites not knowing if I would make the cut into their competitive program. Studying was difficult being a full time mom, especially with four teens in the house!

    My acceptance letter came just weeks later. I was 48 years old and I was a nursing student! My family was overjoyed and extremely supportive. I started nursing school in August of 2011 with ananticipated graduation date of May 2013.

    This story is not over yet. There is more to come but so much has happened during my first year of nursing school. I was accepted into the honors program which requires special projects or designated honors courses to maintain the honors distinction for graduation. My first semester project was on platinum drug therapy. My second semester was supposed to be a continuation of that project. On a pediatric rotation everything changed and my topic became advocacy for the developmentally disabled adult. At the end of the semester, I presented my project to my entire class. They learned a lot about me that day but more than anything else, many were introduced to the challenges of working with a developmentally disabled adult patient.

    My facebook updates are often about the demands of my nursing school schedule. Many friends or acquaintances will pull me aside and ask how hard going back to school really is. I tell everyone it is hard, no doubt, but worth every effort. I encourage anyone that will listen to make the first step - the rest will fall into place. I warn that going into nursing school is like jumping into a raging rapid. If you hang on, it is an exciting ride!

    My kids joke that they can see if the part on my head moves because my nose is always in a book these days. They know I am in the stands at their games but I am more than likely toting a book or pda to study during down time. They are proud of me and more supportive that I could have ever imagined. I was elected President of my nursing class and completed my first year of the nursing program.

    I am not only learning to be an advocate for all of my patients as I did for my brother, but also for those that are thinking about a life-changing direction in life. I am 49 years old and halfway through nursing school. This is not where I would have imagined to be at this stage in life.

    I can offer advice to anyone that is thinking of going back to school. Do it!

    You have nothing to lose and if you put forth the effort your life experience can serve you well in your journey. If you are contemplating a career change to nursing, call local schools to see what you need to do to get into the program. Then you have to make that one big leap – DO IT! If it is in yourheart, go for it. You will never know if you don’t try. Be ready to work and drive hard. It can be done. I will finishmy program when I am 50 years old. I will then be embarking on a new career after being a stay at home mom for over21 years!

    I could never have imagined this is where I would be now, but it is.

    It could be for you, too!


    All colleges have requirements you have to be willing to do the extra work even if it means taking a class over. I am and I am 27. Try to get a good grade.
  6. 0
    Not sure I understand the comment. I took the biology class my first semester back. Not sure if the comment was directed at me or in general.
  7. 0
    Just curious. What college did you get accepted into? I've been turned down twice by the same local college even with a 3.92 GPA. I was told technology had passed me by the 1st time & that I was'nt a good fit the 2nd.
  8. 0
    aWESOME STORY!! Thank you Thank you Thank YOU... Im 43 with a 2 yr also have a 22 yo that JUST graduated college (on Mothers Day) I am sooooo scared of how will handle studying, working (FULL TIME) and taking care of my lil boy... Im going to do it... next fall..God Willing..I have to take care of a student loan then I can reapply for financial aid... Thank you sewnmom... YOUR story was sooo encouraging... RIP Danny...God Bless you guys!
  9. 4
    I went back to school after almost 20 years in the business world. I had 4 children ranging in age from 3 to 11, I worked full time and held a part time job at night on the weekends. Yes I was married (and still am) but he was in the midst of his own career change with full time classes and studying. I honestly don't know how we did it. I remember yelling at the kids to go to bed so I could study. "Do you want mommy to fail!? Get back to bed NOW"! Oh the guilt!I am proud to say I completed all my prerequisites, corequisites and RN classes in 3 years.We all survived and I graduated 2 months after turning 40. Do you want to know some benefits of being an older new grad? The whole "nurses eat their young" doesn't scare you because you've had the life experience to deal with those jerks. You also have family and friends who have had health issues and you know what they expected from their nurse. Being a parent you have already learned to mouth breathe when dealing with a code brown and you have learned how to not vomit when holding someone's head while they vomit. You have dealt with blood and choking and tantrums and know that it's mostly the TLC that makes it all better. Your children can't complain about how hard school is because you're doing it while taking care of them and working! Kids do what you do, not what you say and this is the ultimate example to set. You have also had loved ones die and know how that feels. Pillow fluffing doesn't save lives but as an older new nurse you will understand the importance of it. I commend you and wish you all the best! I hope more will follow in our footsteps.
    MA_Davis, Autymn, annlewis, and 1 other like this.
  10. 4
    I am 55 years old and starting the clinical portion of Nursing School in Sept. Despite having a 4.142 GPA and a BS degree, I was rejected in 2010 and 2011. I did'nt give up! Nor should anyone who is passionate about being a nurse. It has been my dream since I was 13 yrs. old. I also have a 10 yr. old child, my only son. NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!
    MA_Davis, grmann, student forever, and 1 other like this.
  11. 2
    THANK YOU! I am 46 years old and went to work at a hospital as a "tech" three years ago to see if this career change/path was indeed for me. Turns out I loved it as much as I thought I would and have used this time to do my prerequisites, earn phlebotomy and telemetry monitor certification and just generally sponge up all I can.

    I turn 47 in October and will begin the first term of nursing school thruough my employers nursing affilated program in January 2013. I, too, tote my books and notes to kids events, church, Dr. appts and cram in everywhere possible. Sometimes I think "I must be crazy" then other times I think "Heck yes, I will finish this. I have 15-20 good working years left in me and I am LOVING learning!"

    I, too, hold it over my kids heads that if I can work full-time, take classes and still get A's then they can too. They are proud of me and my husband has been so supportive. WHen I finally get that R.N. behind my name THEY will have earned it alongside of me.

    Thanks for the encouragement!
    G
    MA_Davis and Janit like this.
  12. 3
    grmann, I am at a community college program in my home town that happens to be one of the top Associate Degree programs in the country. It has earned the distinction of being the community college that grants the highest number of associate degrees in nursing in the country. It is VERY competitive to get into the program. THOUSANDS of people apply for a few hundred seats. This semester it was rumoured to be a waiting list of 250 people at EACH campus, with five campus locations, day and night sections at each. I am kind of glad I didnt know this when I applied. It is a bit overwhelming.

    grmann - do not accept that decision as fact. Keep plugging away! Are there other schools in your area? Go in and talk to someone there. If they have that attitude, you need to show them the error of their ways. There is a nursing co-ordinator at our school that is phenomenal.

    I can say that I have been in contact with many 4.0 students that did not get into their choice program. Many that had excellent gpa's that didnt get into the program at all. You just have to keep trying. There are many nursing schools in my home town. Several of the hospital programs offer tuition forgiveness. One person in my one coreq class could not get into the community college program after one attempt. She finished up the coreqs and applied to the community program and to a few hospital programs (taking the required entrance exams for each program). Didnt get into community but got into one of the hospital program, signed up for tution forgiveness and will be a nurse in two years with a guaranteed job and a promise of tuition being paid after her time is done in that position. Win - win. Just keep trying.
    liebling5, MA_Davis, and annlewis like this.


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