Advice needed: yea or nay to nursing??

Students Pre-Nursing


I really need everyone's two cents :twocents: on this one. The basics are:

1. I'm 54, soon-to-be empty nester

2. I have a bachelor's in biology, minor in chemistry from waaaay back

3. I've worked in the legal field for 20 years

4. I don't hate what I do, but I don't love it, either

5. I'm two classes shy of getting a paralegal certification

6. Have wanted to be in the medical field since I was 14

7. I'm single and finances are always an issue

Very soon I need to decide whether to take my nursing pre-req or finish the paralegal certification. I've had many of the pre-req but they are too old and I need to take them over. I'm a very good student (previous science gpa 3.75, current paralegal gpa 4.0) and I'm not worried about how I'll do with the pre-req. My concern is spending the time and the money to start nursing school and find out that either (a) nursing school and the financial strain are more than I can handle; or (b) I am no happier than I was in law.

There are several reasons why I want my nursing degree. First and foremost is the desire to help others. While you can get some of that in the law, most of the work is behind the scenes and frankly, it's all about the financial bottom line for law firms, which I hate. I want to work hands-on with people, not shuffle papers around. Second, I love science. The combo of being in a helping profession that involves science is like a dream.

But I hear what people hate about nursing and they would be the same things I would dislike. When I was an undergrad, I worked in the ER as a unit clerk. I saw what the nurses did and while some of it bothered me, mostly I was enamored of their jobs.

I'm also reading about others having difficulty finding a job when they graduate. That would be devastating for me since I'm the sole breadwinner. Although I'll be an empty-nester, my kids are in college and I have to have some kind of decent income to help them when they need it. And, I'm terribly concerned about how I'll support myself while in nursing school. I know I can't do it without working and if I can only work part-time, I'd have to make some major life-style changes. For example, I would probably have to move and share a rental with someone. That concerns me because I've only lived with my kids the last 18 years. I also live in one of the most expensive areas of the country (DC Metro area).

I know no one can make this decision but me, but if anyone has struggled with the same kinds of questions/decisions, I'd love to hear from you.



196 Posts

WOW! your question is EXACTLY what i have asked myself. i am currently 46 and separated from my husband. i also have an 8 year old son. i also have been in law for the past 25 years, working first as a police officer, retired when i had my son, began working as a legal assistant for a general magistrate. while i enjoy what i am doing now, i, like you, want more. i enjoy working behind the scenes, but like in law enforcement, i want to help people first hand like i did as a police officer.

i've wanted to be a nurse ever since i could remember, but being single and having to work full-time, i was never able to financially afford to just quit and go to school. the other problem i had in the past was being able to get into a nursing program due to the extremely long wait lists.

after years of waiting, i pursued being a police officer, but only because i found an agency that would hire me, pay me a full-time salary, put me thru the police academy and then work for them for 3 years after that. this was the only way i could have accomplished that dream.

so, on to nursing. i am 46, and just now trying to pursue my dream since i was in high school of being a nurse. after wait list, after wait list and being rejected over and over again, i've found there are in fact hospitals that will pay for you to attend school (as i did to become a cop) and then all you have to do is commit to a 3-year contract with them. after trying to find these programs, i've finally been able to do so, recently had my first interview - was told i would be recommended for the program and would have the last and final interview within the next couple of weeks for the job offer. it's funny how things work out in life. you just have to keep pursuing your dreams. i feel at 46 i was too old to do this, but i'm finding it just makes me "more mature" to those interviewing potential students and life experience helps a great deal as well.

a friend of mine was a school teacher for 30 years - loved the work, but now that she has retired, she is also pursuing her first dream of becoming a nurse. she is 58 yrs old. it's never too late ..... and if there is a will, there is a way.

i've found so much valuable info on this website .... so use it as a good source of info for you .... not sure what is available in your immediate area, as i am in florida.

good luck to you in pursuing your dreams :nurse:


63 Posts

Thanks! It's good to hear from someone else trying to deal with the "what do I want to be when I grow up" question. And you still have a child at home!! I wish I could find a program like yours that will pay me a full-time salary. There is an accelerated program that pays 80% of the tuition if you commit to 3 years with the hospital, but that's through a private school. I would still need to come up with the other 20% of the tuition plus find a way to support myself. And I suspect that with an accelerated program, working would be a very difficult thing to do.

As far as the finances go, since I have most of my pre-requisites or will have by the time I start, I would be able to attend school part-time for the ADN program. Tuition is low low so I would not have to borrow much, if any, to pay for it. But trying to find a job that will support me while going to school will be tricky, especially given the current economy. I don't have recent hospital experience so I'm not real competitive when it comes to the unit clerk positions.

On the other hand, the CNL program is a graduate level program, which means that I would have access to more student loan monies which would make financing my education and living expenses easier. But I don't want to owe megabucks when I graduate. At my age, I'd end up paying on them until the day that die!

I'm just so conflicted. It's easy to sit back and stay in one's "comfort zone" but that's not a happy place for me right now. Plus I really believe that stretching yourself, continuing to learn and grow, is what keeps you young. Get those neurons firing and really push your limits, you know?

Congratulations on following your dream. I hope your follow-up interview goes well and you get good news.

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