Age Discrimination in Nursing

Updated | Published
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

This writer says it exists, and it's real. Maybe you are having a hard time getting hired, or worse yet, you've lost your job for flimsy reasons. Here are some tips to help.

You are reading page 3 of Age Discrimination in Nursing. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Q_rnc, RN

Specializes in Maternal-Infant. Has 40 years experience. 8 Posts

Thank you for posting your plans. I'm 57, have been a nurse for 37 years, worked all over the country, and have two graduate degrees. And I'm feeling restless and considering a PhD program vs. DNP - I love being a bedside nurse, but I also would love another intellectual challenge. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by family and friends that think school is only about "getting a job away from the bedside so you can take it easy as you get older." Aaaaaggghhhh! Yes, I am older but I'm not dead! And for me, getting older is about having more experiences, not less. And no, I don't want to jump out of an airplane, but I have flown a few. So why not get a doctorate, at any age? Best of luck in your educational endeavors!


brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. 2,718 Posts

I believe there is ageism. As an LVN who is 55. I have applied to get my RN doing the bridge program. I have to take 4 science classes. I have been working as an LVN for 10 years. Mostly clinical work. I now work in Occupational health.

My employer is willing to pay for my return to school. I fear age discrimination in accepting me into nursing school. I don't know how I will do but I know it will be challenging. I don't plan to do hospital work and I plan to stay at my current employer if they bump up my pay. I enjoy Occ health work as it is 75% administrative.

I don't know if I will be accepted to the school. Can anyone give me any feedback on age discrimination in being accepted into a nursing program?

I don't think there is age discrimination with getting admitted into a RN program. Money talks and colleges will take anyone that pays tuition as long as their prior grades are ok. For profit schools may even overlook bad grades in the chance of getting their hands on govt student loans.

I think the only problem might be in clinicals if your preceptor believed in stereotypes, but that could be a problem for many other reasons such as race, physical appearance and weight. This is not right or fair, but real life isn't always fair. If you to be an RN and can afford it and still be able to retire and pay the bills you have to take a chance and apply. Put your best foot forward and be proactive about proving the stereotypes wrong! Many of my coworkers become nurses as a second career as older students in their 40's to even 60+.

My hospital actually has a fair amount of older nurses and has received a reward for being older worker friendly. While another hospital system is known for laying off or driving out their older workers and have mostly young new grads. I think it is safer to have a mix of experienced nurses and not all new grads.

Good Luck!



23 Posts

I'm currently 60 (or as a female friend would say 30-30), although I look younger than my chronological age, and I'm more fit than any 19 year old I know, I get the stares and multiple questions about what I'm doing in nursing school from the RNs when I go on clinicals. I usually just smile, tell the truth that its something I've always wanted to do, and drive on. Ageism is real, it is not a figment of anyone's imagination. I encounter it every day but I cannot let other peoples biases stop me from pursuing my passions. If you run into a brick wall in life (ageism, racism, sexism, whatever 'ism',) and your not tough enough to knock it down, then climb it or go around it, or even under it, but don't pound your head against it because that really hurts! My pontification for the month.


adnrnstudent, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience. 353 Posts

Blatant! It's called no grandfathering like other careers, must get BSN. Blatant and why I'll never join the ANA.

dream'n, BSN, RN

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych. Has 29 years experience. 1,162 Posts

When I was a young nurse I didn't believe that ageism really existed, at least not to the extent that older nurses said. Now that I am 40ish :rolleyes: I can say without any hesitation that ageism exists and is a bigger monster than I could have ever imagined.



Specializes in Medicare Reimbursement; MDS/RAI. Has 27 years experience. 50 Posts

This thread depresses me. As a 50 year old LPN of 25 years returning for the third time to finally complete an ADN, I'm wondering now, why bother?

I do have a rather "niche" job carved out in that I am an MDS nurse at an LTC facility, and can completely stay in this position with a pay increase, but what if I wanted to try something else? Guess I'd better do some thinking.


bagladyrn, RN

Specializes in OB. 2,286 Posts

I seem to have found a niche with little to no ageism: travel nursing. There's no hiding my age, it's obvious from the length of my resume. All of my interviews are on the phone, so appearance isn't a factor - they don't see my gray hairs and facial lines until I arrive. All they really want to know is if I can fill the gaps in their schedule. Many of us are older in the travel business.

My son is of the opinion that I'm going to keep doing this until I quietly keel over in the corner one night.



21 Posts

I find that in my workplace it is the complete opposite. I am 23 and always asked by patients/ family members about how old I am. A day doesnt fail where I recieve comments like "Youre a baby you look 14." Or " Youre too young to be a nurse." It annoys the heck out of me because I know I am competent and honeslty love what I do. I can do the same work as a nurse who is 30 or "looks older" than me. This was also true for me when I was a nurses aide- many people (staff) would try and take advantage of me because I was young. Some people would talk down to me or look at me up and down when I floated to other units as if i wasnt competent enough to fulfill my duties. So yes, age discrimination in the workplace is REAL and you would only know it if youve experienced it!



1 Article; 193 Posts

I work with much younger nurses. I am close to 50 and while I have over 20 years of experience in area of nursing, the younger nurse, who didn't have the experience to even be hired for the position was, apparently, was hired for her looks. My boss who has approx 15 years on me keeps dragging me into comments at staff meeting regarding "way back when" and keeps asking me "remember when." She also refers to the younger nurse as "eye candy." This same nurse flirts enough with our department director so much it makes me and my other (young) Co worker extremly uncomfortable. Whenever there is a post or presentation or other "education" opportunity it is offered to the younger nurse first. My boss is always falling all over herself when talking to this younger nurse. My boss also hired an extremly young (22 year old) for an ancillary position on my unit. It is a big job that this person is failing at. Ear buds in the ears all the time, punches in and is gone off the unit for 20 min while getting breakfast. Takes 1 hour lunch breaks 2 times in 8 hours. My boss is a poor judge of character. It is clear my boss likes young people around her, but while acting like a fool and dragging me into "old" status with her comments during meetings and referring to how "cute" someone is that either works there or comes in for an interview.



2 Posts

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and this is mine. At age 70 and 40 years of vast and solid nursing experiences I feel to "hide" my life, performance and bodily changes are the epitome of the term ageism! I was recently hired for the very fact that I had superior experiences to share, but after that "younger" admin person got what she wanted for personal gain I then became an aged nurse rather than appreciated resource. The company effectively hid the fact that I was ineligible for many benefits due to my age, ie disability insurance for 6 months claiming systems and personnel resources were in flux and information was in the process of being updated. I could not attend certain family funerals because it was not a mother, father, grandparent ( all of which, for me, were already deceased).

But all that is an additional story. I wish to digress and restate, to hide who I really am, not talk about the normal process of body aches with aging and other behaviors only makes us a further victim of age discrimination.

I love/d helping patients and sharing experience with cohorts but once being proud to say I am a nurse/RN, B.S.,Psy I am disgusted with the system and in the process of leaving this industry. When I trained in the 70"s I was told "nurses eat their young" well they also kick older nurses to the's now called Ageism.



3 Posts

I am 60 and am in LPN school second level. Go for it!!


Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 25 years experience. 20,962 Posts

Thanks for saying what was on my mind. These suggestions, while well-intended some of them, come across as a bit trite. Making myself "look" younger can only go so far. And it embarrasses my teen daughter to even hear me listen to her kind of music, "Mom you are too old for this!" or some sort. Women esp, who try too hard to appear younger, IMO, look pitiable, silly, and I feel a bit sorry for them. In other countries and wiser cultures, age is celebrated and revered. NOT the USA. Youth is eternally worshiped. How annoying.

I am my age and with all its warts-----so, I don't think the solution is to just tell older nurses to "try harder" or listen to more modern music, etc. but a change in attitude and trend is in order. The baby boomer generation, the most influential in decades, what say you? All I heard was "baby boomers this and baby boomers that". Where are ya now? Why is ageism such a factor when so many are in that bracket?

Frustrating to say the least and makes me dread the next decade or so. Depressing actually.

Just have to say about some of the "tips" for older nurses like "stay fit and healthy" Really? Some age related illnesses are beyond our control. Arthritis? One of the worst things for a nurse to have. Back issues from all the years of lifting and bending even if you use proper body mechanics? It is a fact of life that as we age we don't have the energy a younger person, who is not lazy, has. We don't bounce back from 12 hr shifts and night shifts. Give us a break. How about allowing older nurses to have less taxing postions if possible instead of saying things like "sit up straight", don't complain, don't even mention your reading glasses (not good to try to start and IV without them) You would think as nurses we would understand the aging process. And believe me I know about ageism. My last job was phased out and do you think a hospital is going to hire a 63 yr old as opposed to a younger nurse? Uh, no...