At age 45, would you start an RN program? Honest advice please

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Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

At your age, I would advise against obtaining that amount of student loan debt. It seems that you have done extensive research into all of your options. Have you considered applying to out of state RN programs and potentially moving, even if it is temporary? I think that would be much cheaper than the amount in tuition dollars you listed. Once you get your RN, you could always move back to California. Not to mention, out of state programs may be easier to get in with shorter ( or no) waitlists.

At your age I went your route with nursing and wasted my retirement nest egg, only to be disappointed in the results.  I would not do it again.  When a person is 45, their concern needs to be on what is their life going to be like at 65 or 70.  Do you have a solid retirement in place apart from your emergency fund and day to day savings?  What will you do if midway through the program, you become terribly ill and can not complete it?  Can you afford to spend good money and your time and not reach your final goal?  These are questions you should ask yourself before you succumb to the allure of nursing.  At 25 a person can better afford to make career mistakes or start over than they will find possible at 45.  You don't have those bumper years to work with.  Make a well thought out decision based on several "what ifs".

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Hi StrawberryblondeNP,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Yeah, going out of state seems to be an option for sure. I hadn't even thought about that before I started reading the comments to my post. 

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Hi caliotter3,

Thanks for taking the time to reply and for your candor. You're right - I wouldn't be able to afford to not complete the program. Not in the least. I have some retirement savings, but it isn't nearly enough. If you don't mind me asking, what made you "disappointed with the results?" Is it the day-to-day tasks involved with being an RN? Something else? 

SpokesAndCoffee, ADN

Specializes in ICU.

First, you need to get the most thorough portrayal of nursing you can. Talk to nurses, shadow if possible, and maybe go through CNA training. While a desire to help people is important in this profession, I don't think that alone is enough. Will you still feel like you're helping someone who defecates in the bed because they think it's funny that you have to clean it up, or someone who shows up on your floor every few weeks due to repeated substance abuse? I'm not saying that such things are the norm, but they do happen, and something has to drive you forward despite such instances.

If nursing is your ultimate passion, go for it. Just realize that even if a program is two years, you'll have to add at least another year for prerequisites. And, no, you probably won't work much during that time. That's not to say people don't juggle both, but many of the people who try end up failing out or having to drop down to part-time school.

At 45, with little savings, I don't think you need to completely switch gears and go deeper in debt just to help people. You could use your business degree at another company, or maybe take online courses for a masters degree in health administration.

NDNurse

Specializes in CWOCN, PMH-BC, graduating with MSN in April. Has 9 years experience.

I started nursing school as an older than average student - I was 40. I worked VERY part time as a clinic CNA and my children were in elementary school. It wasn’t easy, but you can do anything you set your mind to. My school was affiliated with a local hospital and by agreeing to work for them for 2 years, they paid half my tuition. That would be one suggestion.  I don’t know if moving is an option, but I know a few nurses who moved to our area because there are more opportunities for new grads. 
I have my BSN, and will graduate with my MSN in April. Personally, I would not recommend the associate degree programs. For starters, it can be limiting. Hospitals in this area require a BSN. Nurses with 2 year degrees can work in clinics or nursing homes.  I have a WOCN certification and a BSN is required. I have looked at the curriculum for the community college in my town and the requirements simply aren’t the same.  
The first year or so was rough, and I really questioned my decision to become a nurse. Now, I love my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. 

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

SpokesAndCoffee, 

CNA training keeps being mentioned, including by you, so I have started looking into that. Thanks for your honest advice. You told it like you see it, and that's exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you. 

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

NDNurse,

Thanks for taking the time to give your advice. Yes, it seems like the BSN route is leaps and bounds about the ADN, especially in my area. If you don't mind me asking, what about your first year or so in nursing made you question your decision to be a RN?

NDNurse

Specializes in CWOCN, PMH-BC, graduating with MSN in April. Has 9 years experience.

Hello again,

It took me a bit to get my feet under me.  I had an awful preceptor and really just had to figure things out on my own.  I also started at the same time the facility was changing from paper charting to an electronic medical record. The first year I ran around a lot, going from computer to computer.  Of course you complete your assessments, change dressings, pass medications, but I never felt like I was able to give each of my patients enough time. It improved as the year went on and I think some of this can be attributed to learning better time management.  As one of the other commenters mentioned, following someone would give you a great idea of what you might be signing up for.  

FallingInPlace, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Hospice, Wound Care. Has 8 years experience.

I went to nursing school at 48 and finished at 50.  Some days I regret my decision more than others. Although I find I enjoy my work most days, I don't always enjoy the circumstances under which I work.  I would do it again only if I were convinced I had a true passion for nursing and a good understanding of job conditions.  I thought I knew what nursing would be like, but it's more difficult and I have far less autonomy than I thought I would.  I would also not go into much debt for nursing school at 45, because of the need to save for retirement.  I was able to get an associate's degree from a hospital system that repaid my debt as I worked for them as a new grad, which was a great deal for me financially.  If I had been just a little bit younger, I probably would have gone on to a FNP program, but decided that the costs far exceeded the benefits at my age.  My last piece of advice is to research the subspecialties that will allow you to advance in your career most easily.  A background in critical care (ED, ICU) will boost your options more than others, in my opinion.  Have you considered another role in healthcare, such as becoming a radiology technician?  That field definitely allows you to advance to more lucrative jobs with more responsibility, such as being a dosimetrist.  Best of luck in your decision!

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

Another what if: what if you fail a class? It happens, and if your savings are iffy, you need to think on it. Also, you want to work in CA. Many new grads in the Bay Area (and CA in general) have a hard time landing that first job, especially in the acute (hospital setting)-there are many threads and posts on AN regarding this.  Besides possibly moving for school, are you prepared to move for your first job if necessary? Nursing is also physically tough, and not all settings have assistive personnel, you know, cost cutting and all.

I'm not trying to dissuade you, but want you to go into your decision making process with eyes wide open. I've been at this for over 25 years. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have chosen differently when I was younger. I used to feel like I was providing good care instead of rushed care, staffing was better, and it was good to be a nurse.  Now, short staffing and upper management that worships the bottom line more than concern for patients is causing nurses to leave the bedside in droves. I'm glad that I work in a clinic setting, and like what I do. I avoid the hospital setting like the plague. There's my 2 cents, good luck with your decision. Let us know what you decide.

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Hi FallingInPlace,

Thanks for your input! I wasn't aware some hospitals reimburse the costs of a RN program. That sounds like a good deal! You and others are advising against going into debt at my age, so that is really hitting home. I did look into the Radiologic Technician route, but it seems a little monotonous to me (correct me if I'm wrong).