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

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Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Hi Hoosier_RN,

I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Your honest answers are very helpful. If I were to fail a class, it could cause added financial stress. Not counting my modest retirement account, I have about four or five months of liquid savings. I have an established life in Los Angeles, and the thought of moving for both a RN program AND a first job doesn't sound very appealing. It's starting to look like the best route would be the cheapest: community college ADN and hope to get a first job. 

shinyhappy1, BSN

Specializes in Home dialysis training coordinator RN. Has 4 years experience.

I graduated nursing school at 40 with way too much student debt and I have no retirement savings, but I still don’t regret it. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like my soul dies a little every time I go to work.

I went through Chamberlain in Las Vegas to get my BSN, but after nursing school, my desire to work in a hospital left me. I didn’t like how I felt when we discharged patients that I knew were no going to be successful at home, either due to psychosocial issues or their health status was still precarious but their insurance was done. I made the decision to go into home health to pick up where hospitals left off. That didn’t make enough money, so I went into acute dialysis, which is super easy to get into because the need is so great. So I worked for a year in hospitals doing that, and then I applied to work in home dialysis. Now I train people to complete their own dialysis in their own home and the sense of satisfaction that I get from giving people with kidney failure their lives back cannot be overstated. Everything I’ve done in my nursing career can be done with an ASN. My BSN has been unnecessary for me.

I tell you all this because the journey of every nurse is different and not all of them require the traditional “nursing school to hospital” route that so many complete. If hospital work is the only thing you want to do, definitely get your BSN. You won’t be competitive otherwise. However, if you’re open to other types of nursing: dialysis, home health, hospice, long term care, etc, then the BSN won’t matter as much. 

I think the LPN route is underrated. I know several successful RNs in California who’ve gone that route because the bridge programs are way easier to get into than the straight RN programs. Then, if you decide a BSN is necessary to your career goals, there are online BSN programs that are under a year long.

One route nobody has mentioned is the PCT route. We hire people to be dialysis techs with no medical background and train them all the time. DaVita does this also. After a year of working as a PCT, all of the major dialysis companies will pay for your RN degree through the school of your choice, then you can go where you want if you find nephrology isn’t your gig. 

Sorry to be so long, but I just wanted you to know that not everyone’s nursing journey is traditional and that’s okay. Don’t lose heart. There’s always a way.

amoLucia

Specializes in retired LTC.

On ‎1‎/‎24‎/‎2021 at 8:47 PM, FallingInPlace said:

.....  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!

I just finished a course of oncology radiation for newly dx'd CA. I was amazed at the professional knowledge that my 2 major therapists exhibited. Not: they are 'therapists', more than 'technicians'. Both obtained their education thru 4 yr university programs at schools I recognized in my locale.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

10 hours ago, shinyhappy1 said:

I graduated nursing school at 40 with way too much student debt and I have no retirement savings, but I still don’t regret it. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like my soul dies a little every time I go to work.

I went through Chamberlain in Las Vegas to get my BSN, but after nursing school, my desire to work in a hospital left me. I didn’t like how I felt when we discharged patients that I knew were no going to be successful at home, either due to psychosocial issues or their health status was still precarious but their insurance was done. I made the decision to go into home health to pick up where hospitals left off. That didn’t make enough money, so I went into acute dialysis, which is super easy to get into because the need is so great. So I worked for a year in hospitals doing that, and then I applied to work in home dialysis. Now I train people to complete their own dialysis in their own home and the sense of satisfaction that I get from giving people with kidney failure their lives back cannot be overstated. Everything I’ve done in my nursing career can be done with an ASN. My BSN has been unnecessary for me.

I tell you all this because the journey of every nurse is different and not all of them require the traditional “nursing school to hospital” route that so many complete. If hospital work is the only thing you want to do, definitely get your BSN. You won’t be competitive otherwise. However, if you’re open to other types of nursing: dialysis, home health, hospice, long term care, etc, then the BSN won’t matter as much. 

I think the LPN route is underrated. I know several successful RNs in California who’ve gone that route because the bridge programs are way easier to get into than the straight RN programs. Then, if you decide a BSN is necessary to your career goals, there are online BSN programs that are under a year long.

One route nobody has mentioned is the PCT route. We hire people to be dialysis techs with no medical background and train them all the time. DaVita does this also. After a year of working as a PCT, all of the major dialysis companies will pay for your RN degree through the school of your choice, then you can go where you want if you find nephrology isn’t your gig. 

Some jobs that OP is interested in may require some hospital experience. Even in some areas, BSN is necessary out of hospital. I live in a rural area that is saturated with nurses of all levels. The better LTCs only take BSNs with experience for RN roles, dialysis is the same way in my area. Again, poster needs to look at what is going to get them hired for most jobs in their area. I agree about trying the pct route, that role, like CNA, can give a taste of the nursing environment

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Hi shinyhappy1,

Thanks for your advice. It's nice knowing it could be possible to get a job as an RN without a BSN in non-hospital settings. Dialysis sounds rewarding. I don't know exactly what home health entails; I'll research it. 

asil17

Specializes in FNP. Has 18 years experience.

Hello! I am a second career nurse. I decided to go into nursing around same age as you, I had a background in autolgous transfusion and my degree was in Communication. I did an Assoc Deg at local Com Coll and it was best decision I ever made. Since that time I have worked as an OR nurse, pain management, tele and went back to school again in my 50s and got my FNP. That assoc deg paved the way, it was afforable and a great program. BSN is wave of future, but you can at least start there.  Good luck!

Breezey, BSN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

Hi all,

      I am a variable private duty RN BSN whom has bilateral dorsal pedal arthritis with cysts. Looking to the future, when I can no longer perform direct care, I would like to be a remote CCM who directs pts to different services they are entitled to. So I guess I would be working with/for a company that gets referrals from hospitals. I have 2 clients that had fallen through the cracks, both seen at world renown children's hospitals. One client, w/ MD,  just found out 5 yrs ago they were entitled to nursing, he's almost 40 yo. My other client's mom stated she found out they were entitled to services "because she asked the right question". This is something I could not fathom and decided right there that I was going to be a CCM. A remote/independent CCM, that hospitals refer pts to, so I can help facilitate/direct them to all the services available to them.

  My question is,.... are there companies out there that may fit what I'm looking for?  if yes I would love to know company's name.

               Thanks

asil17

Specializes in FNP. Has 18 years experience.

Hi Daniel. I am a second career nurse, started out around same age as you with a BA deg. and graduated with Asoc Deg from Comm Coll. Got job right away. This was about 15 years ago. I know I made the right choice. Went on the get Masters and become FNP. I suggest you go for it. Re: cost, many employers will pay or forgive student loan debt if you commit to them for a while.  Also, we can surely use male RNs in this field! Good luck!

 

What are you looking for, and can you get what you are looking for by applying to other jobs? Or by getting additional training, like a certification?

 

 

I am younger than you, and these are things that I wish I knew before I chose nursing:
 

1. Hospital work is stressful, intense, fast paced, and the stakes are high.  If you make a mistake, not only can the repercussions on you and your career can be major, but you can hurt your patients. Imagine you’re an ICU nurse and one patient is on several drips and keeps crashing and the other keeps trying to get out of bed and is a high fall risk. The one CNA on your unit has been assigned to be a sitter for someone else, and there is no one else on hand. If you make one mistake someone could even die. And the blame could fall on you.

 

2. You can find good work outside the hospital (which I did) but you will forever be limited in what kind of jobs you can apply for without at least a year or two acute care experience under your belt. And other nurses may second guess your judgment and skills without that experience. I am OK with this—- I don’t really care anymore what people think, but when I was younger I would be sensitive to other nurses making comments. 

 

3. Expect to work night shift for a year or two. Expect your 12 hour days to extend to 14 hours from time to time. Staying up all night to work 3 nights a week for an extensive time with no set end date in sight is taxing physically and mentally for some people. Some people like nights though or it’s with it for them for things like childcare or family care

 

 

  4. Expect to work weekends and holidays. And the holidays and weekends you have off, expect to be working on the surrounding days (Friday, the day after thanksgiving, the day after Christmas, July 5, etc) . Don’t count on being able to take a 2 week vacation to see family during the Winter holiday season. Expect that especially in the beginning, you may find yourself working every weekend rather than every other weekend for a while if they need you to come in. My friend who is religious missed church for like 12 weeks or something because he worked an extended stretch of weekends. You get other days off, though, so some people don’t mind because they should still get their fair share of days off, but if you like having specifically Saturday and/or Sunday off, take that into consideration. Things like running errands or going to the mall are less crowded on weekdays,, but dynamics in things like religion, partners, and family may demand that you be available on weekends 

 

5. getting your first job will be competitive. I graduated between 5 and 10 years ago and at that time, it took most of my classmates about 6-12 months to get a “good” job in the area, with a few outliers at 18 months. I got “a” job right away, but it took me about 18 months to get something that I wanted to stick around in. I am not sure how the market is now. Some people moved out of state 

 

6. nurses are known for lateral violence  IMHO all professions have their fair share of bullying, but in nursing the stakes are higher than office work, especially if the ones training you are bullies and you are a new nurse who needs help and counts on your coworkers for support  see number 1

 

 

 

that is all that I can think of. I don’t mean to scare you or to be too negative. I have never been without a job as a nurse, except for a period of like 6-8 months when I was a new grad between jobs. My lowest RN salary was $25 an hour at 40 hours a week, so I always have had a decent income.  I am extremely happy with the job I ended up in, and plan to stay where I am at for my entire working career unless “life stuff” happens. I work with a good boss and friendly people. I like what I do. I don’t work in acute care  

 

 


 

 

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Hi Shrek,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such detailed advice for me, a complete stranger! I really appreciate it. Nursing will be tough, that’s for sure, and your post hit that home even more. I have heard from many people - yourself included - that a few years of working in a hospital are key, like working in a Big Four accounting firm for a CPA. You simply need it on your resume somewhere. Can I please ask what kind of non-acute care facility you work in and do you still enjoy it? 

 

Thanks again for your honest insight! 

Possible Career Changer

Specializes in no nursing experience, potential career changer.

Also, what’s the deal with nurses bullying each other, or “eating their young?” Is this because it’s a female-dominated profession? I thought females were nowadays supposed to be all about female empowerment. I have never heard of construction workers, long-haul truck drivers, airline pilots, or underwater welders “eating their young.” I guess us men know how to get along - when we aren’t shooting each other LOL. 

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

6 hours ago, Possible Career Changer said:

Also, what’s the deal with nurses bullying each other, or “eating their young?” Is this because it’s a female-dominated profession? I thought females were nowadays supposed to be all about female empowerment. I have never heard of construction workers, long-haul truck drivers, airline pilots, or underwater welders “eating their young.” I guess us men know how to get along - when we aren’t shooting each other LOL. 

Read other posts on here re: bullying. There are so many different takes on it