Is 46 Too Old for Nursing School?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I have been reading your advice you have given to hundreds of aspiring nurses/current nurses etc. I admire you for the love and dedication you have for your career. I would like your advice on a concern I have. I am 46 years old. Do you think I'm too old to go back to nursing school
    , and become an RN? I am currently working as a CNA and also am a CHHA, as well as a Medical Assistant. I feel I have a strong background, and thus feel that I can do so much more, but I afraid that by the time I finish school I will have a hard time finding a job.

    Dear Is 46 Too Old,

    I don't think 46 is too old for the right person who is committed and determined. The forties are a great productive time in life. It won't be easy, but nursing school is not easy for anyone. Age discrimination exists in nursing as well as in other industries but can be overcome.

    As far as landing a job, start strategizing for that in your first semester. In an excerpt from my book "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job", several strategies are offered for students like yourself.

    "Select a hospital you would like to work in as an RN once you graduate. While in school, apply to work as a CNA or PCT on weekends and school breaks. While working, strive to make good working relationships with co-workers and charge nurses. Keep in close contact with your manager and and let her know you would like to work there after graduation. A good impression goes a long way, and you will have insider advantage".

    When there's a will, there's a way. It is a wonderful thing to realize your dream .

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Dec 5, '17
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,407; Likes: 4,211


  3. by   pinkuu
    I couldn't agree with Beth's response more!

    I personally do not believe 46 is too old. I had a person in my cohort in their mid-forties, and they were able to score a new grad position sooner than others who were much younger than them! No doubt discrimination exists, but you just gotta keep trying and apply to everywhere and anywhere. With your extensive healthcare experience I believe you have the potential to shine in your nursing clinicals which can leave a lasting impression with preceptors and instructors who can later be your LOR writers and references.
  4. by   solarjohn
    I graduated RN school at 52 with almost no background in healthcare. Four interviews three job offers. Age can be a true advantage in patient care. Best of luck to you.
  5. by   eh14
    I just graduated at age 48. No regrets whatsoever - my life experience, confidence levels and soft skills dealing with patients, families and other professionals has made me far more valuable as a new grad ( I do have some med background - EMT).
    It also makes me less disillusioned than some of the younger students who have no idea about the realities of healthcare in America. I hear turnover is high among new grads due to this. I know nurses in the their 30's already looking for new careers. Also you know yourself and know where you will be happy at this point in your life as far as specialties go. As long as your focus is there and you are going into the career for the right reasons Nursing is a great choice. Just my two cents.
    Last edit by eh14 on Dec 21, '17
  6. by   RNrhythm
    This question pops up every month or so. I posted it myself a few years ago. I am 54 and have been a working RN for a little over 2 years. I love my job in a very busy telemetry unit.

    Short answer: No, you are not too old. Some thoughts:
    • You have healthcare experience, so you know what it is like. This is a big plus.
    • Have you done your pre-reqs yet? I would not worry about your future as an RN until you finished your Anatomy, Physiology, and other tough classes. No offense, but a lot of people do not make it over that first hurdle.
    • What is this going to cost you? Some private, for-profit nursing schools are crazy expensive. You can get a ton of loans and you will have pretty big loan payments, but do the math and you might be OK with it.
    • Worried you might not have the stamina for bedside care in a few years? A lot of my friends, young and old, have gone on to other areas and are very happy in Case Management, research study coordination, school nursing, public health, etc.
    • I experienced age discrimination which made finding my first job harder but not impossible. You can read all about that sort of thing here on AllNurses.
    • Nursing school is very hard for everyone, not just the older student. You will need the sustained support of your friends and family. You will be studying in another room on family holidays, just popping in for the highlights. You will have no social life for the duration.

    You can totally do this. People do it all the time and they are not smarter or stronger than you.
  7. by   Legonurse
    I'm in the second year of my BSN, and will be graduating at 51. Nursing school is tough, but with perseverance and by finding a good study partner, it is certainly doable. Experience really helps give you perspective too! You're more able to see how each course and each part of your learning fits into the construction project of creating a new nurse. I too was worried about how my age might make it more difficult to learn, especially among classmates who are high-achievers from their own previous schooling. I am happy to report that I've been Acing every single subject, despite having to be wife and mom whenI get home, so age has not been an issue. Go ahead and pursue your dream, if Nursing is your passion!
  8. by   Kaisu
    I graduated this May at the age of 59. I had 5 years of experience as a paramedic, which was a second career after 23 years as a systems consultant. I am currently working in a busy telemetry unit, earning my chops. I am blessed with good health and for me, age is only a number. Good luck to you.
  9. by   grifton66
    Graduated with my BSN at 47, had three job offers at graduation. I'm working on a med/surg floor at our state's best hospital and gaining tremendous experience. My age has been an asset in all ways except my physical endurance. My advice? Go for it!
  10. by   Tommy5677
    I would estimate that half the students in my class of 1980 were over 40 so no.