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Is 63 to old to start nursing school?

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by Mallory Sunset Mallory Sunset (Member) Member

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Most of these suggestions seem to gravitate towards you going to nursing school.  I will be the voice that says no you definitely should not, but there are valid reasons for that.

1. More than likely you have decades of experience in another field and also likely that you are making as high or higher salary in that field than a new RN will make, and your retirement/benefits are vetted.  Should you leave for RN school you will be putting 7+ more years of work (at least 2 for school and 5 to get vetted for retirement in another job).  This point is moot if your IRA is well-funded and/or you are already wealthy from other means.  This is on top of the time to actually get thru RN school so if you are seeking benefits/retirement from an RN job you won't be able to draw on them until at least 75. 

2. You will face ageism.  You will likely be 67+ by the time you graduate nursing school and thus would be able to draw social security and be able to retire anytime.  Employers will be extremely hesitant to hire someone who they might feel is a liability as you will be able to suddenly retire whenever you want to. You might not want to retire yet or at all, but employers will think of these things making your first job as an RN very difficult, far more so than usual for a new grad.  Regardless if you are as healthy as someone half your age or not, these will be concerns for someone in an HR office somewhere who you will never meet and they will never meet you except your resume and application.  They will have concerns like these, but might rationalize these concerns as other things to avoid the appearance of ageism but do not think that these types of concerns aren't being considered by all of your potential employers.  They'd see you high school graduation date and decades of experience and be able to piece this together, they don't even need to know your exact birthdate.

3.  Costs of school.  There are more costs to school than simply the money and time.  You will face mental and emotional challenges that you may not be prepared for.  As mentioned in point 1, you most likely have decades of experience in another field and thus would be used to a certain level of mental/physical exertion from that career.  RN school is rife with challenges that many people your age are simply unwilling to face as at that point in their lives they desire the well-earned comforts of retirement and not the hectic challenge of schooling right before retirement.  Nursing school instructors will not take it easy on you because of your age and you will be expected to keep up with students half your age or younger.  This means being able to lift heavy patient/objects and being on your feet for 10+ hours with little opportunities for rest and possibly being at a fast walk/slow run the majority of that time.  Do you think you can physically handle that?  Sure in many SOP's it's said you can simply go get a lift assist device.  In actuality those aren't used much and you will be expected to move heavy patients by yourself or with 1-2 other people.  Can you imagine yourself and 1 other person lifting a 200 pound person deadweight from a bed to chair or vice versa?  Do you want to spend 8-10 hours a day at school and then study for 1-3 hours after that each day?  Do you want to be full of stress and anxiety right before you reach retirement age and constantly be stressing about the next test or some assignment?  These are the types of questions you need to ask, and I advise talking to the school counselors at programs you are interested in to get a glimpse of what to expect and then evaluate yourself if you want to go thru that.

4. Time is against you.  Evaluate why you want to go and try to modify your plans accordingly.  If your plan is to treat patients and/or try to do good for others than going to LVN school may be better as it's cheaper and quicker than RN school.  You will be able to get out there working quicker and thus be able to have at least a few years of work before you hit retirement age.  RN school usually requires some prerequisites in addition to the 2-4 years required to complete the curriculum.  That means if you are 63 now you most likely won't be a new-grad looking for work until you are 67-68.  How many years of your life do you expect to be working?  As mentioned, you must begine drawing social security within a few years of that and you'd be eligible for retirement during nursing school.  You are trying to maneuver yourself into disappointment by going thru such a long program that close to retirement.  I seriously advise you to consider LVN instead if you are dead-set on becoming a nurse as the program is far quicker at usually less than a year with little/no prerequisites.

5. What is the reason for the sudden career change?  If you simply want the letters "RN" behind your name then definitely do not do it.  If you simply want to become an RN to fulfill a life goal, but don't plan on reasonably using such license then go ahead.  If you want to get that license to try and get more money for retirement then you will fail.  You will have lost opportunity costs from the years of school.  Assuming average US income of 40k/year and your schooling takes you 5 years you would have lost out on 200k on income you could have gotten from your previous job.  Assuming the average income for a RN of 70k, that is a 30k boost, but you'd then have to make up for that initial 200k lost income, AND THEN add the actual costs of schooling on top of that.  I won't go further, but suffice to say you will have to work several decades to make up that lost income and increased expenses and that probably isn't what you originally intended.  If you simply wanted to go help out somewhere then I suggest volunteering at a hospital.  That will take care of any altruism wants of yours and allow you to keep your current income/benefits/retirement.

Sorry to be the dissident one here, but many seem to be advising you from an idealistic point of view.  The reality of the situation is that unless you already are wealthy this would be a terrible decision for you to undertake being so close to retirement.  If you are already wealthy and simply want a change of pace then think about what I said and then go according to what you decide is correct.

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no.intervention.required has 5 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in stroke and cardiac nursing.

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Yes, realistically, too old.

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TriciaJ has 38 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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My immediate response was "Oh, hell no!"  I retired at 58 after 37 years of nursing.  I can't imagine doing now what I did all those years.

Then I read your post where you're currently working 12 hour shifts as a CNA.  So at least you won't be going into it completly blind.  Also, it seems your RN coworkers are encouraging you and they certainly know you better than we do.  If it's on your bucket list to become a nurse just so you can say you did, and money is no object, then go for it.  If money is an object, then this is likely going to be a money loser for you in the grand scheme of things.

Keep in mind that nursing school is grueling and starting a nursing career even more so.  Whatever stress you currently experience as a CNA will be multiplied as an RN and multiplied more just by being a new grad.

If you really need a big challenge and bungee jumping won't do it for you, then go for it.  Good luck and best wishes, whatever you decide.

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18 hours ago, FullGlass said:

Don't worry about getting into nursing school.  Many schools are looking for diversity and your age is an advantage in this regard.  In addition, you have life experience and maturity - an asset in nursing.  Good luck.

Thank you for that positive feedback.  🙂

 

10 hours ago, TriciaJ said:

My immediate response was "Oh, hell no!"  I retired at 58 after 37 years of nursing.  I can't imagine doing now what I did all those years.

Then I read your post where you're currently working 12 hour shifts as a CNA.  So at least you won't be going into it completly blind.  Also, it seems your RN coworkers are encouraging you and they certainly know you better than we do.  If it's on your bucket list to become a nurse just so you can say you did, and money is no object, then go for it.  If money is an object, then this is likely going to be a money loser for you in the grand scheme of things.

Keep in mind that nursing school is grueling and starting a nursing career even more so.  Whatever stress you currently experience as a CNA will be multiplied as an RN and multiplied more just by being a new grad.

If you really need a big challenge and bungee jumping won't do it for you, then go for it.  Good luck and best wishes, whatever you decide.

Thank you so much!  Take care.

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15 hours ago, Xance said:

Most of these suggestions seem to gravitate towards you going to nursing school.  I will be the voice that says no you definitely should not, but there are valid reasons for that.

1. More than likely you have decades of experience in another field and also likely that you are making as high or higher salary in that field than a new RN will make, and your retirement/benefits are vetted.  Should you leave for RN school you will be putting 7+ more years of work (at least 2 for school and 5 to get vetted for retirement in another job).  This point is moot if your IRA is well-funded and/or you are already wealthy from other means.  This is on top of the time to actually get thru RN school so if you are seeking benefits/retirement from an RN job you won't be able to draw on them until at least 75. 

2. You will face ageism.  You will likely be 67+ by the time you graduate nursing school and thus would be able to draw social security and be able to retire anytime.  Employers will be extremely hesitant to hire someone who they might feel is a liability as you will be able to suddenly retire whenever you want to. You might not want to retire yet or at all, but employers will think of these things making your first job as an RN very difficult, far more so than usual for a new grad.  Regardless if you are as healthy as someone half your age or not, these will be concerns for someone in an HR office somewhere who you will never meet and they will never meet you except your resume and application.  They will have concerns like these, but might rationalize these concerns as other things to avoid the appearance of ageism but do not think that these types of concerns aren't being considered by all of your potential employers.  They'd see you high school graduation date and decades of experience and be able to piece this together, they don't even need to know your exact birthdate.

3.  Costs of school.  There are more costs to school than simply the money and time.  You will face mental and emotional challenges that you may not be prepared for.  As mentioned in point 1, you most likely have decades of experience in another field and thus would be used to a certain level of mental/physical exertion from that career.  RN school is rife with challenges that many people your age are simply unwilling to face as at that point in their lives they desire the well-earned comforts of retirement and not the hectic challenge of schooling right before retirement.  Nursing school instructors will not take it easy on you because of your age and you will be expected to keep up with students half your age or younger.  This means being able to lift heavy patient/objects and being on your feet for 10+ hours with little opportunities for rest and possibly being at a fast walk/slow run the majority of that time.  Do you think you can physically handle that?  Sure in many SOP's it's said you can simply go get a lift assist device.  In actuality those aren't used much and you will be expected to move heavy patients by yourself or with 1-2 other people.  Can you imagine yourself and 1 other person lifting a 200 pound person deadweight from a bed to chair or vice versa?  Do you want to spend 8-10 hours a day at school and then study for 1-3 hours after that each day?  Do you want to be full of stress and anxiety right before you reach retirement age and constantly be stressing about the next test or some assignment?  These are the types of questions you need to ask, and I advise talking to the school counselors at programs you are interested in to get a glimpse of what to expect and then evaluate yourself if you want to go thru that.

4. Time is against you.  Evaluate why you want to go and try to modify your plans accordingly.  If your plan is to treat patients and/or try to do good for others than going to LVN school may be better as it's cheaper and quicker than RN school.  You will be able to get out there working quicker and thus be able to have at least a few years of work before you hit retirement age.  RN school usually requires some prerequisites in addition to the 2-4 years required to complete the curriculum.  That means if you are 63 now you most likely won't be a new-grad looking for work until you are 67-68.  How many years of your life do you expect to be working?  As mentioned, you must begine drawing social security within a few years of that and you'd be eligible for retirement during nursing school.  You are trying to maneuver yourself into disappointment by going thru such a long program that close to retirement.  I seriously advise you to consider LVN instead if you are dead-set on becoming a nurse as the program is far quicker at usually less than a year with little/no prerequisites.

5. What is the reason for the sudden career change?  If you simply want the letters "RN" behind your name then definitely do not do it.  If you simply want to become an RN to fulfill a life goal, but don't plan on reasonably using such license then go ahead.  If you want to get that license to try and get more money for retirement then you will fail.  You will have lost opportunity costs from the years of school.  Assuming average US income of 40k/year and your schooling takes you 5 years you would have lost out on 200k on income you could have gotten from your previous job.  Assuming the average income for a RN of 70k, that is a 30k boost, but you'd then have to make up for that initial 200k lost income, AND THEN add the actual costs of schooling on top of that.  I won't go further, but suffice to say you will have to work several decades to make up that lost income and increased expenses and that probably isn't what you originally intended.  If you simply wanted to go help out somewhere then I suggest volunteering at a hospital.  That will take care of any altruism wants of yours and allow you to keep your current income/benefits/retirement.

Sorry to be the dissident one here, but many seem to be advising you from an idealistic point of view.  The reality of the situation is that unless you already are wealthy this would be a terrible decision for you to undertake being so close to retirement.  If you are already wealthy and simply want a change of pace then think about what I said and then go according to what you decide is correct.

Thank you for putting all these thoughts together.  I really appreciate the time you took to prepare this information.  You have given me a lot to think about.

Thank you.

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never too late specializes in gerontology.

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I am in nursing school and am in my sixties. I have spent my life in various aspects of long term care. the kids in nursing school, half of whom are pregnant, or have their own very young kids,  are passionate about taking care of children, but when they get out they will find that the jobs are mostly taking care of elderly. there are no courses in gerontology. maybe one or two courses as electives in a masters program, but not in nursing school. I think it is unfortunate that the industry is simply not preparing students for care of an aging population. and, I have seen that the elderly people prefer being cared for on a daily basis by aging nurses with experience and judgment.  ---of course, I recognize that  the gruelling, heavy physical work is best done by young people, but that is not the whole story!  the onslaught of baby boomers on the scene are not going to stand for the current situation. they dont wanna spend their 70's , 80's, and 90's under the care of  20 year olds who cant relate to their problems.   anybody encountering age discrimination in getting hired as a nurse at 60, faces exactly the same problems getting hired as a banker or teacher at 60. the training programs generallly dont want you because young trainees are a better investment.   the answer  for older applicants is entrepreneurship. start your own business, the eldercare field is getting ready to explode with opportunity.  the skills you get in nursing school necessary but inadequate.  who the heck needs a whole required course devoted to breastfeeding and prenatal care, and no course devoted to care of alzheimers, diabetes, arthritis, chronic conditions.  so, I am going to nursing school to get the technical skills and then going out into a world where people are fascinated with old people and love old people

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1 hour ago, never too late said:

I am in nursing school and am in my sixties. I have spent my life in various aspects of long term care. the kids in nursing school, half of whom are pregnant, or have their own very young kids,  are passionate about taking care of children, but when they get out they will find that the jobs are mostly taking care of elderly. there are no courses in gerontology. maybe one or two courses as electives in a masters program, but not in nursing school. I think it is unfortunate that the industry is simply not preparing students for care of an aging population. and, I have seen that the elderly people prefer being cared for on a daily basis by aging nurses with experience and judgment.  ---of course, I recognize that  the gruelling, heavy physical work is best done by young people, but that is not the whole story!  the onslaught of baby boomers on the scene are not going to stand for the current situation. they dont wanna spend their 70's , 80's, and 90's under the care of  20 year olds who cant relate to their problems.   anybody encountering age discrimination in getting hired as a nurse at 60, faces exactly the same problems getting hired as a banker or teacher at 60. the training programs generallly dont want you because young trainees are a better investment.   the answer  for older applicants is entrepreneurship. start your own business, the eldercare field is getting ready to explode with opportunity.  the skills you get in nursing school necessary but inadequate.  who the heck needs a whole required course devoted to breastfeeding and prenatal care, and no course devoted to care of alzheimers, diabetes, arthritis, chronic conditions.  so, I am going to nursing school to get the technical skills and then going out into a world where people are fascinated with old people and love old people

Wow!  So awesome!  On my own time I help out with some AMAZING people much older than I am.  And I love it!  Their life stories (living  in San Francisco during the summer of love)  I never fail to ask more questions about their life.  You will rock in your chosen role.  And maybe I'll have a chance.  Thanks again. 

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My opinion, you are too old. I could barely do it when I was 30.

Unless you are doing one of those skip everything, and go straight through to NP.

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On 8/13/2019 at 10:37 AM, Snatchedwig said:

Do YOU think it's too old?  Never ask or care about advice regarding  life from strangers. 

LOL So true.

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If you want to go to school do it.

I am in my second semester of a two year program and I started at 65 (I applied for Medicare in the same month I started school). What people are telling you is all true but there is no reason why you cannot go to school as long as you can meet the academic prerequisites and you can meet the physical requirements. I know of a disabled student in a wheel-chair who graduated with a BSN, anything is possible.

Do your homework. I went to college before and used all my financial available to me, I get no financial aid (not even loans). I had to make a choice, pay for rent or pay for my education (tuition, books, supplies - first semester I spent more than $1,200.). I am homeless living on the street, In the past I would sleep in the subway (I live in New York City) and would get robbed regularly, the last time they took everything including my computer and personal papers). I now regularly nap/sleep at school when it is open as well as shower there. 

I work two jobs full-time (recently had a third but had to drop it because of a conflict with my clinical hours) and I am always tired to the point that I would get yelled (not really) out to "wake-up" and then I would be asked "did I work the night before?" I would sheepishly answer "yes" and the professor would smile. I never missed a class and there is an attendance policy. Nor was I ever late submitting any assignment.

There's a saying "I have no life, I'm a nursing student" which is kind of true. I have classmates who are parents and have children from pre-school to college and they all passed doing good. People do have lives outside school but it takes some discipline and classmates help each other a lot; study groups and chat groups are helpful. I will just mention that the exams (the questions I mean) are not like regular college exams where you might be able to guess an answer by eliminating two choices and then guess between two remaining choices. It's challenging because all the answers are correct but one is better than the others.

Being a nurse is physically challenging for anyone. If you have to move a patient (especially a big person) get help and use proper body mechanics to avoid getting hurt yourself. Everyone in my clinical group were exhausted at the end of the day, even the 19 and 20 year olds.  I usually went to a senior center I am involved with and I would have dinner there after my clinicals. 

I will end this by telling you I go to the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and their nursing programs start either in September or January. There are four prerequisite classes needed before you can take the Kaplan Nursing Entrance exam which is a requirement for admission. It is competitive to get in. 

Btw it's still summer break for most students but for my classmates and I (who have this particular professor) we have four quizzes to do online and several written assignments to submit before class officially begins. And on the first day of class we have a math proficiency exam (required every semester here at BMCC). 

There's a lot I didn't mention ...any questions, ask...glenrubin2016@gmail.com.

Good luck

Glen Rubin SN

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Dear Glen Rubin,

I loved reading your post. The words you have written encompasses the human spirit, daring, brave and resilient.

I have printed it out and when I am ever feeling I cannot complete a task or assignment I will read it.

Thank you

 

 

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