Published Mar 14, 2014
Hey everyone! So I was talking to my near and dear aunt about my plans to pursue a BSN. I'm currently a RMA and planning to start general ed courses this fall.
However, I just don't know if I'll make it as far as after graduation on the employment end. Yes, I have medical experience from being a Corpsman in the Navy and as a RMA. I'm 31 and won't be able to do it in 4 years because.. I don't know, I've been out of school since high school. I'll be well into my mid 30's and I know that there will be much younger candidates in the field than myself and feel that they will be given priority because they are younger despite the whole "no age descrimination". It is what it is and business is business. Case in point, my cousin is in her 40's. She is a nurse and has been for maybe over ten years but her only experience is in mother and baby, L&D. She wants to change but has for whatever reason not had any other experience. she applied for an outpatient nursing position in oncology and got passed up. I guess it was because she has limited experience which includes zero experience in oncology + age.
What are your thoughts and experiences?
NICU Guy, BSN, RN
You are absolutely right. Why would a hospital hire a new grad that has experience as a Navy corpsman and RMA experience when they would rather hire a new grad whose only experience is working at Wal-mart?
You are 31 yrs old, not 71 yrs old. There are several threads of people going to nursing school older than you (including me, 47). You actually have an advantage over younger grads, your relevant work experience and maturity (I hope). Don't let "what ifs" deter you from becoming a nurse.
The reason that your cousin is having a hard time switching specialties is due to the fact that L/D is different nursing than a medical floor and not because of her age.
Forget about your age. There were a lot of 40's and quite a few students in their 50's in my class. In the end nobody cares as you all suffer the same hardship. Some people I know are like that. They think they are too old to start over. But as the years go by, they regret not starting when they had the chance.
I really doubt your age will set you back. Life experience counts for a lot, and going into school with your HM experience will help you BIG time. People will be able to tell from day one that you've worked with patients, and that's something that your fellow students will likely have to work to overcome. You'll have certain skills down that you did during your enlistment that you don't have to stress about (though you may need to learn new methods, as I know I did) and you can focus on the new stuff you didn't learn or use on duty. You will have to work to shift your focus, however. I know my focus was very medical when I came into nursing school, because my patient care experience was as a HM, and the nursing approach is very different. You'll need to be open-minded to the change in thought process.
Once you're in clinicals, make yourself known. If the nurses like you and give you good feedback, tell them to tell their managers. Introduce yourself to the managers. I have a job offer for once I'm licensed because of this. I'm 34, BTW. Most managers don't necessarily want 22 year old nurses that have no prior work experience. The maturity that comes with age is well appreciated in the nursing profession, where you may not see it elsewhere (though if you were 70, it might be different).
Your cousin is likely having a hard time because L&D is very specialized, and uses a pretty narrow scope of skills. She hasn't had someone who wasn't of childbearing age or male in years. She hasn't had a COPD, CHF, or cirrhosis patient in 10 years. There are other applicants who have. The market is rough right now, and having no prior med/surg or critical care experience is setting her back. This is the drawback of going right into a specialty unit, and why it's generally recommended that you start out in med/surg for awhile.
Just FYI (and you may already know this), your HM experience won't be counted for anything when you're a new grad, because they technically only count RN experience, but it will set you apart from other new grads for jobs that ARE open to new grads. Talk up your experience, and draw upon it in clinicals and in school. If your teachers are good about it, like mine have been, teach them to your classmates. My instructors had me teaching IVs, and liked a lot of the tricks I learned in the Navy.
If you have any questions about going from HM to RN, feel free to send me a message, as that's been my path as well. I was also a phlebotomist when I got out, so different from MA, but still civilian medical experience. Again, doesn't count for RN experience, but helps some when applying.
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