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How old is too old to become a new RN?

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by CathyH CathyH (New Member) New Member

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Have you thought about dental hygiene? Or would you be able to work as an RN in oral surgery, is that what you meant? I have a friend who obtained ADN at age 60. She had a previous degree in an unrelated field. She landed a job (had 2 offers) in a smaller hospital in her town, as a floor nurse. She is very fit and strong physically. She did at one point say that if she knew what she knew now, when she was in school.. she may have reconsidered nursing as a career choice, but I think it was related more to nursing as a career choice PERIOD, not to being age 60. (Demanding, mostly thankless, high responsibility, low autonomy, all the negatives present for nurses at any age).

If you think you might love nursing, consider how you liked being a CNA.. if you liked that, maybe nursing might be a good choice for you.

On the other hand, I know a doctor who was a nurse in her twenties, and felt- yes, in her twenties- that her body would never hold up to it. So she went back to school and never looked back.

It seems like the dental field could be a lot more satisfying and interesting than nursing, to me anyway. My dentist is in her mid fifties and is slowing down her practice a bit, but she loves her work. The hygienists there do too, and are involved in a lot of patient education outside of the "regular" job duties. My dentist, over the years, has often been more astute in helping figure out my health issues, than my regular primary doctors. I have a LOT of respect for those in this field.

oops- one more thought- a male neighbor in his late fifties recently obtained ADN. He had NO previous exp in healthcare. He was unable to find work except in a nursing home. He has commented to me that he finds nursing "extremely demanding"...but I believe this to be more related to his finding the expectations on nurses overly demanding- and they are- NOT due to his age.. he is fit and healthy. (many nursing homes here have terrible ratios- such as one nurse to 30 patients on a ward).

Edited by Doumbia
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jeanbeth has 6 years experience and specializes in Gerontology, Education.

30 Posts; 1,362 Profile Views

I started my career as a nurse with my ADN at the age of 56 after a career as an accountant. I am certain I made the right decision. I spent four years as a nurse in long-term care and got my BSN-MSN in the on-line program at a local university at the same time (worked 32 hours/week and so I fit in the studying slowly but surely). Now I am teaching nursing students in an LPN program and I love it. Nearing 60, no back pain! There's a life out there for mature nurses...

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12 Posts; 315 Profile Views

IMO, if you want to become an RN, go for it! But you have to take somethings into consideration like job outlook upon graduation, since every tom, dick and harry have a nursing program, will there be openings for new RN's. Also, as someone else mentioned, the cost of nursing school with books, uniforms and study time. Do you have a family, do you enjoy spending time with them, if you begin nursing school, your time to spend with them will be shortened. And with cost, will you be needing a loan? You have to look at cost vs amount of money you will make upon graduation and obtaining a position. Although the feds do not mind loaning out money, they do require you pay it back..will the amt you make as a new RN be work that payment and will your salary minus that loan payment be more than you are making currently? Cost of living goes up, but you may not receive a raise every year...just stuff to think about.

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nursejoy1 has 22 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics.

1 Article; 213 Posts; 6,231 Profile Views

No age is too old, if you feel that you are physically up to the task. A coworker/friend completed her RN at age 53. That was in 2000. She worked full time for over 10 years and now works PRN. I have another friend who works with me. She has been a nurse forever, but at age 75 still works 4-5 8 hour shift every week. So I say, if it is something you truly want, go for it!.

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11 Posts; 523 Profile Views

Too old??? Death...otherwise go for it!

EXCELLENT comment...you are an amazing asset to this thread!

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11 Posts; 523 Profile Views

One point of contention: A school with a high NCLEX pass rate SHOULD be a consideration.

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I appreciated your comment about being "appalled" at the number of comments about the age discrimination issue. I feel 100% the same way - nurses "eat their young" no matter what their age. I work with a woman that is 74 years old, she is AMAZING!

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205 Posts; 5,195 Profile Views

I don't have time to read through all of the pages of this thread. But, what women who have been nurses for decades forget is that those of us who have had less physically demanding jobs for those decades are a lot fresher in our 50s because we haven't had all of that nursing wear and tear. I completed all college prereqs and a full year of hospital based diploma RN school. I threw in the towel and decided that RN isn't for me, but it surely wasn't the physical demands of it that turned me off. I just didn't like dealing with the lower caliber of people comprising the general public, after decades of working in engineering, computers, and industry. Y'know, a work environment that isn't full of losers, liars, addicts, welfare mamas, and criminals.

There were several older women and a couple of older men in my cohort. As far as I know, none of the career-changers age 45 or greater had any problem landing jobs. The oldest woman was in her early 60s and she went into hospice nursing, but she said all along that was her goal. One went into psych. The hospital itself had a rule that no employee lifts more than 35#. In theory, that was great, but in practice, I suspect it might not always work out that way. I had no problems performing the physical requirements of clinicals. I did find that choice of shoe is very important to my feet, but I'd have the same problem in teaching or retail or any job that requires walking around on concrete floors all the time. The emotional wear and tear was too much for me, personally. I am too much on an introvert who likes to just work and not be bothered by people, so you can see why nursing would wind up feeling like taking a whipping all the time. lol

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VANurse2010 has 6 years experience.

1,526 Posts; 12,476 Profile Views

I would say if you're only doing it for personal interest/enrichment and have no intention of actually practicing as an RN - then you're too old (I've known someone who basically did this). In those cases, they really are taking spaces from young people who need a job and income.

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freesia29 has 5 years experience as a LPN and specializes in Urgent Care.

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I work in a walk in urgent care clinic and love it. So ambulatory care is always an option too. I already have a bad back at 45 so hospital nursing would be be tough on me physically. Lots of openings in offices, surgery centers, where most patients walk in and out. :)

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12 Posts; 516 Profile Views

I am currently in a two year RN program, just finished year one. I am 31 years old. I worked a desk job for 10 years and I know how it feels to want to get on your feet, see people face to face and help them. There are two women in my class above the age of 50 (not sure of exact ages). One was a vetranarian and is divorced and bored. She is VERY active and healthy. The other is divorced and needs to be able to support herself so she chose nursing. The first is doing really well, the other is struggling because she has been out of school for so long and is not good with technology. If you are healthy, active and good with technology and were generally a decent student, you can do it. I will tell you that I have become very unhealthy during the program. I gained weight, I spent most my time on my butt studying/reading and get very little exercise....not to mention the stress eating!!! At clinicals, i'm dying by the end of shift because i'm not used to standing on my feet all day. If I were you, I would hate to go through all the time and trouble and money to do something this hard at your age. If you need fulfillment, you can always volunteer, use your CNA or go back ONE year and be an LPN or a nurse tech. Nurse tech's make 17.50 an hour where I am from. Since you are already a dental assistant, I would actually recomment you be a dental hygienist. Where I live, it is an 8 month program!! This would be perfect for you. You have patient care, higher education, more money and stay within your field of experience. Also, ultrasound technicians make more than nurses initially and i think the program is also only a year. A lot less work too and overall a very satisfactory job. ***Keep in mind not only the time it takes to get pre-requisites done, but also the wait lists!! My program is a lottery and sometimes it can take 5 years to get in. Another one in my area is interview based and they turn away people without medical experience. Its rough, everyone is trying to get in to nursing. Good luck with your journey!

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tacticool has 3 years experience as a ASN, BSN, RN, EMT-P and specializes in Trauma, EMS, Neuro.

290 Posts; 3,617 Profile Views

I am currently in a two year RN program, just finished year one. I am 31 years old. I worked a desk job for 10 years and I know how it feels to want to get on your feet, see people face to face and help them. There are two women in my class above the age of 50 (not sure of exact ages). One was a vetranarian and is divorced and bored. She is VERY active and healthy. The other is divorced and needs to be able to support herself so she chose nursing. The first is doing really well, the other is struggling because she has been out of school for so long and is not good with technology. If you are healthy, active and good with technology and were generally a decent student, you can do it. I will tell you that I have become very unhealthy during the program. I gained weight, I spent most my time on my butt studying/reading and get very little exercise....not to mention the stress eating!!! At clinicals, i'm dying by the end of shift because i'm not used to standing on my feet all day. If I were you, I would hate to go through all the time and trouble and money to do something this hard at your age. If you need fulfillment, you can always volunteer, use your CNA or go back ONE year and be an LPN or a nurse tech. Nurse tech's make 17.50 an hour where I am from. Since you are already a dental assistant, I would actually recomment you be a dental hygienist. Where I live, it is an 8 month program!! This would be perfect for you. You have patient care, higher education, more money and stay within your field of experience. Also, ultrasound technicians make more than nurses initially and i think the program is also only a year. A lot less work too and overall a very satisfactory job. ***Keep in mind not only the time it takes to get pre-requisites done, but also the wait lists!! My program is a lottery and sometimes it can take 5 years to get in. Another one in my area is interview based and they turn away people without medical experience. Its rough, everyone is trying to get in to nursing. Good luck with your journey!

Veteranarian going to nurse? Something wrong here. That's like an MD going to nursing school- going backwards.

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12 Posts; 516 Profile Views

Not really. She is a very intelligent individual with extreme zest for life and tons of energy. She has many interests and wants to pursue them all. Nursing will be her 4th career. She did mention an issue with the lack of commitment from other coworkers as well as it being difficult to carry on with her own practice and the hours were insane. It was also hard to put furbabies down. She obviously knew that was part of the job, but after so many years it becomes emotionally exhausting. She wanted more human to human interaction and human physiology is fascinating to her. I think she is actually going for nurse technology.

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