Start Nursing School at 66?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I'm wanting to do a career change at 66 years old. I did 25 years as a firefighter/EMT and have many hours caring for patients and know exactly what the nursing profession is like. My wife has major concerns that I will put in all of my time, money, and effort only to be denied a job because of my age. If there really is a nursing shortage, will hospitals and agencies hire a new nurse who is 68 years old? I just read about Max Walton who is a nursing student at 73 years old. I currently live in the southern US but love small rural communities. Can I realistically get a position as a new nurse at 68 years old? Thank you all for your replies.

    Dear Can I Get a Job as a New Nurse at 68?

    Realistically it is going to be a challenge to land a new grad position at 68+ years old. In some areas, it is hard for all new grads to land a position, regardless of age. If you have not yet completed all your nursing pre-requisites and been accepted into a nursing program, you are looking at more like 3-4 years before graduation, which puts you at 69-70 years old.

    If you are considering this, research your area as the demand for new grads varies geographically. The fact that you love rural areas makes it less competitive, and you may find that critical access hospitals and underserved areas are more likely to have openings.

    Keep in mind that Age Discrimination is real. Employers will look at things such as your predicted workplace longevity, and even things such as how much you and your wife will use your health insurance.

    If you do attend nursing school, you need to strategically network with the goal of being hired while you are in school and clinicals, as explained in my book "Your Last Nursing Class- How to Land Your First Nursing Job"

    The bottom line is, there are no guarantees, and your wife may be right. Or she may be wrong. Or she may just want you to slow down and enjoy life with her.

    Best wishes in your decision.

    Nurse Beth

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

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,406; Likes: 4,209


  3. by   Froggybelly
    I agree that age discrimination is real, especially in medicine and somewhat in nursing. The concern is that nursing is grueling for a 35-year-old, let alone someone twice that age. Even for someone in good shape, patients are becoming steadily larger and sicker, while resources and staffing are stripped down to the bare minimum. This is sadly especially true in the south.

    Look critically at your reasons for wanting to become a nurse. If you want to help people, consider volunteering. Our hospital volunteers make a world of difference to our patients. If you want to make money, consider investing in stocks or real estate. The financial gains are better, the taxes are lower, and the physical strain is dramatically lower.
  4. by   Kaisu
    I am a new grad nurse at the age of 59. During my transitions clinical, I was offered a job in acute care psych. I had selected this as my first choice clinical. It is much less demanding physically than Med-Surg and emphasizes maturity, experience, and judgement over the ability to run from one end of the ward to the next for 12 hours a shift. It helps that I have a passion and commitment to psychiatric nursing and a gift for therapeutic communication.

    That being said, I could not stay in that area. I am now in a nurse residency program in a Med-Surg ward. I am finding it very challenging but I have learned to take care of my body. I lift weights at the gym. do yoga, and eat right. I am in an area of the country where the acute nursing shortage forces employers to seriously consider those of us outside the traditional new grad age range.

    My advice is to carefully consider what you want to do in nursing and be very smart about how you make your moves. I wish you all the best.
  5. by   sunny time
    please DO NOT do this. not only is age a factor but you have no experience., I have 28 years of experience am 65 years old and am having a hard time getting a job. this is not worth the aggravation. if you have good feelings about the medical field from your past experiences then cut your losses and go into a different field. I have gone into real estate and volunteer at the SPCA. but you could volunteer at the SNF school for the disabled. Check for employment at a community home for disabled adults that way you are taking care of people and being paid. go to work at a private school and teach MET courses, get a B L S teaching certificate there is so many things out there you can do rather than running yourself into debt and setting yourself up for failure.
  6. by   montauk8
    As a retired FDNY member and RN, I totally understand how you feel. Your years working as a firefighter/EMT, I'm sure have created the "thurst" for higher education. Nursing like firefighting are totally, "hands-on professions, requiring keen skills and endurance. Both are physically challenging, requiring a total commitment and guaranteed stress, usually working short staffed. As a recent RN graduate, most are assured of working midnights, weekends and holidays, just like the FD. Nursing school is challenging but do-able. The question about employment is a true concern as your age can be overlooked on a resume but never during an interview. Opportunities are available for anyone with the tenacity and will to do this however you have to weigh weather it will be worth the effort and expense being a graduate nurse at 68 years old or spending quality time with your wife in retirement. Good luck with your choice and whatever you choose, go for it with Zest. Don't be discouraged by anyone. My suggestion is to begin journaling positively for what you want and wonderful things will begin to happen.
  7. by   Roz, RN
    If you are an EMT-B, why not study for EMT-P certification. It will take less time and you might find a job more easily because of your experience. I work in a small, rural hospital ER and the EMT and Medic I work with are fabulous. Trust me, you will be a valuable part of the ER team!
  8. by   ppfd
    Yeah this is a horrible idea.
    I retired after 30 years as a FF medic. I went and got my RN while on the job. Your 66 and will be 69 if you do a 2 year program and then test.
    Enjoy yourself. If you just want some extra money, get a side gig at wal mart, lowes, home dept, mow grass, etc.
    Nursing blows friend.
  9. by   Pixie.RN
    You say that you know exactly what nursing is like based upon being a FF/EMT - but you probably really don't know. It's very, very different. I can tell you this coming from EMS (paramedic) into nursing. I have been a paramedic for 14+ years and a nurse for 9+ years, and they are very different professions. Both involve patients, but that is where the similarity ends! I agree with another poster who mentioned teaching BLS; that would be a great use of your expertise, and you could even throw ACLS and PALS in there too.
  10. by   Dafabb
    Quote from ppfd
    Yeah this is a horrible idea.
    I retired after 30 years as a FF medic. I went and got my RN while on the job. Your 66 and will be 69 if you do a 2 year program and then test.
    Enjoy yourself. If you just want some extra money, get a side gig at wal mart, lowes, home dept, mow grass, etc.
    Nursing blows friend.
    I will also add another concern. Just getting your RN at this stage will probably not be as plausible in 2/3 yrs because just being an RN will not get you a job. You will probably have to have at least your BSN as many right now are doing that and will not hire an RN without her BSN and some are going on to MSN. So keep that in mind for the time, definitely the money(very expensive as I hear from many Nurses)