38yo male, VERY non-traditional potential nursing student... advice?

  1. Okay y'all... giving this a shot for my first thread. I've "lurked" for a while, searched a bunch of threads... can't find something all that close to my situation, so here goes.

    Turning 38 in the end of this month. BS in Applied Physics / Computer Software w/minor in mathematics, graduated 2001 w/3.36 GPA (3.39 major GPA). 24 credits of college work since then with As in all classes, to bring cumulative GPA close to 3.5. SAT / SAT II / GRE scores all very high, not sure they'd be necessary, but they're there.

    Married, one newborn child, wife (33yo) has always had an affinity for things medical (to the point where people have told her for years that she should be a nurse or a paramedic). She is going to start nursing school as soon as she can.

    I've spent most of my working life as a professional musician. My wife and I have worked primarily as performing musicians for "senior facilities" (nursing homes, assisted living homes, senior centers, etc) for the past almost 5 years and prior to that I spent several years as a private teacher of music lessons. Prior to getting with me, my wife worked office jobs. She has no education beyond high school.

    This will be a dramatic career change, for sure! Where I'm concerned, I'm investigating all facets of medicine and want to see which is the best fit, if there are any that are good fits.

    So why medicine for me?

    1) My wife had three major surgeries in 2015 and there were many times when I was not impressed with the "bedside manner" of the doctors. Obviously they were competent, but they seemed somewhat uncaring beyond that. For example, I had a ton of questions and they didn't seem all that interested in answering them. I can't recall the same being true of nurses... though I haven't kept score, my recollection is that they seemed to be more inclined to answer questions in sufficient detail. I'd like to be able to help people understand these difficult situations.

    2) My wife and I have an "end goal" comprising the following, in no particular order:

    -ability to travel when we want, and stay put when we want (we've been full time RVers and our next RV is currently parked in our back yard, awaiting transformation from its current incarnation as a school bus... and I've known about "travel nursing" for some time now)

    -ability to help people in need (we'd love to be able to do disaster relief, among other things, and I figure that being a nurse will provide not only necessary skills for such, but also enough money to be able to help needy people in other ways even if not medically)

    -establishing a "commune" for the purposes of seeding some real change in the world (that requires money, and also it would be a huge draw if we could tell people "there are nurses on site")... okay, I'm a hippie, I admit it!

    -providing a good childhood for our son and whatever other children we may have in the future

    3) I have the intelligence to handle it. Without bragging, let's just say that I recently saw an infographic on IQ distribution for people in the medical profession (it went on to say "such as doctors", though it didn't specify nurses) and I am significantly above the 90th percentile line. Though I know intelligence doesn't predict empathy nor suitability for any particular career, at least it'd seem to predict that I could hack the requisite education.

    4) I'm a rather "young" 38, and I anticipate living a long life. It seems like everyone in my family, on both sides, who doesn't smoke nor get killed tragically lives a life of above-average length. So, even if I can't be a nurse until I'm in my 40s, I'll still have plenty of time.

    5) Being a nurse seems to provide the ability to travel, especially if you are a willing to serve "underserved" populations. Those are my people. I've always been an "underserved" person myself, in many ways, and yet I grew up in an area that might best be called "overserved". I know the contrast, and I know what I like. Many years ago, I chose to get out of where I grew up and go to more rural places. So when I read that there is a high demand for nurses in rural areas, I realized that I wouldn't be short on work were I to go into this field. (Not to mention, I could do "travel nurse" work as mentioned before. There appears to be no shortage of such opportunities!)

    6) If my wife becomes a nurse, it'd be something we could share, to an extent at least.

    7) I've always been a bit of a hypochondriac, and my dad is even worse. People generally fear going to the doctor / hospital because they think they're going to get bad news. I believe I can deliver bad news in a way that people would be more likely to accept, if I ever had to be the one to deliver bad news. Does that mean that they'll like getting it? No, but if you want to get better, you need to hear it. Having been the guy who is afraid of going to the doctor and even more afraid of going to the hospital, and having known people who are worse, I could treat people accordingly.

    8) I really want to be respected. Yes, there is a bit of vanity in this for me, but how many people go into a career field entirely altruistically? I've always been the type to work hard and become the best at what I do, and if I do that and still don't get respect (which is the way I have felt for years in my current profession), it's going to burn me out. At least when you're working in the medical field, generally speaking, people come to you or are brought to you because they want you to improve their health... so they're willing to listen to you. Are there some who don't listen? Sure. I've known a few. But they seem the exception rather than the rule. I see elderly people interact with their nurses all the time in my line of work, and the only ones who seem likely to go against what the nurses tell them to do are the ones who suffer from dementia. The others - they might go against what the nurses say, but to my not-so-well-informed mind it would seem that that's the exception rather than the rule.

    This is becoming long-winded, isn't it? I'll probably have to break this up into multiple topic-specific threads. If I did become a nurse, I might just go all the way to becoming an NP, even if that means (with new requirements coming into play fairly soon) that I'd have to get a DNP degree. I read that the nursing approach to medicine is significantly different from the physician approach to medicine, with nurses typically able to take more time to talk with their patients than doctors do (true? false?). Obviously I'm a talker, so perhaps that attests to nursing being a good fit.

    So what do you think thus far?
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    About RomaniGypsy

    Joined: Jan '18; Posts: 19; Likes: 17
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    15 Comments

  3. by   FullGlass
    If you want to be an NP, go for it! Rural areas desperately need primary care providers. NPs have full independent practice authority in 23 states and that will only grow. NPs can also work locum tenens (temp), but you need to get some experience first.

    I had classmates from all background, including the arts - visual, fine, theatre, and music. I do suggest taking a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training class first to see if you are ok with the "blood and guts" aspect of patient care.

    Good luck!
  4. by   RomaniGypsy
    Quote from FullGlass
    If you want to be an NP, go for it! Rural areas desperately need primary care providers. NPs have full independent practice authority in 23 states and that will only grow. NPs can also work locum tenens (temp), but you need to get some experience first.

    I had classmates from all background, including the arts - visual, fine, theatre, and music. I do suggest taking a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training class first to see if you are ok with the "blood and guts" aspect of patient care.

    Good luck!
    I've thought about that... but I've spent a good amount of time over the last 16 years working in nursing homes and assisted living homes, as an entertainer and a maintenance guy... and in my admittedly narrow observation, it seems as though nurse aides get the mundane and disgusting jobs dumped on them, if not by the nurses then by the mere description of their jobs. They're the ones who bathe people, wipe them off after they've gone to the bathroom, help them dress, etc... and the pay is stinko. I know that the work has to be done, and that these elderly people wouldn't have even the least dignity in these facilities if the aides didn't do the job... but I can't see myself wiping butts for ten bucks an hour. Would I do it for substantially better pay? Yeah, maybe... I do change my son's diapers, including when they're full of poop. Who knows. I won't totally rule out getting trained as a nurse aide if it'd help determine whether or not an advanced career in nursing is right for me... after all, I may at some point find myself in need of a job that enables me to work second or third shift while taking online classes and looking after my son at some other time during the day (assuming that my wife has to be away from home to take in-person classes)... and that would fit the bill even if we wouldn't get rich off of it.

    Generally speaking, though, blood and guts don't bother me that much. I was there for the entire time when my wife delivered our son last month, and that's always a mess. I didn't pass out nor vomit. I'm the guy who watches the needle go in whenever I get a shot or donate blood. Right now, perhaps due to my lack of proper training, my only real sticking point is being too anal about hygiene. I don't mind dealing with the dirty stuff... I just tend to take large measures to keep everything sanitary. (For example, I tend to get a laugh or two from the crowd when I tell them, at a show, that it takes me six wipes to clean my son after he poops his diaper, whereas my wife can do it in three because she's a ninja like that.)

    And I like rural areas... check that - I LOVE rural areas. I'm a rural kind of guy. I get into a big city and I'm like "get me OUT of here!". I guess it takes all kinds... some people hate rural areas and love the city.
  5. by   FullGlass
    I didn't say you had to be a CNA, just that taking a training class is helpful in determining if nursing is a good career choice. In addition, RNs also have to do the "dirty stuff." A CNA may not always be available. And RNs and CNAs often work as a team in patient care. Especially as a nursing student, you will have to do all the "dirty stuff" a CNA does. You have to complete a BSN RN program, or equivalent, first in order to become an NP.

    Unless you become a PMHNP, there is a lot of "dirty work" for an NP, too: draining abscesses; working with very ill patients who may be vomiting, have diarrhea, etc; caring for wounds which may be infected; examining genitals for STDs; exams for hemorrhoids and hernias, etc.
  6. by   not.done.yet
    What do I think? :shrug: I think you should go for it. Your life goals are as valid of a reason to do this as anyone's and your age is a nonfactor, "young" 38 or not. I was 41 when I got my ASN. I am now 47 and have my MSN. You can have whatever you are willing to put in the effort for. I wish you the best of luck!
  7. by   Oldmahubbard
    I think when you become a nurse, you will find you are far from the only "non-traditional" type person going into the field!

    Nursing is not medicine, just so you know. It takes awhile to get used to all the lingo.

    Why not get started? You have much to offer.
  8. by   Forest2
    Wow, you are really want to go from left brain work to right brain work. Are you super organized?
    To travel you will find that most will need one to two years of experience before signing with an agency. If you have a child and travel are you going to homeschool? Being a talker is not necessarily a good thing. You have to be able to cut people off, nurses try to be helpful but don't have much time. I think you need to think all this over really well. If you make the decision to go ahead, then I wish you all the luck in the world. Sounds to me you have talked yourself into thinking nursing is a perfect job, It isn't.
  9. by   Forest2
    Yes, there is a lot of primary care in nursing. Feeding, cleaning up pee and poop. The works.
  10. by   heythatsmybike
    Not all RN's work on floors, and there are other things, well-paying things you could do with this degree so don't let any naysayers try to deter you with the whole poop and pee speech. You sound like you have your heart set on being a nurse and you should go for it. I'm in my 30's and had a prior degree in something else and am in an accelerated BSN program now. There are even 12 month ABSN programs out there once you get your pre-reqs done. Online BSN-DNP programs exist and you could potentially get your BSN and DNP done within 4-5 years if you had most of your pre-reqs done and were super motivated, which it sounds like you are. Best of luck to you.
  11. by   Oldmahubbard
    It's not going to be all rainbows and unicorns, far from it, but the field is very broad.

    RN was not for me, so eventually I became a PMHNP.

    It took a long time, but I am very happy with it.

    No one here can predict what the job market will be in 5 or 10 years, nor the twists and turns your life and career may take.

    But nursing is an above average career.

    One thing is true, though, nurses in most jobs seldom have time to talk. Especially the entry level positions.
  12. by   djh123
    I didn't read your whole post, but we've got a few similarities. I was a programmer for a long time. Graduated w/a BSN at 54 after a couple of bumps in the road once I headed down this path. Like you, I'd like ot do some disaster relief nursing or something along those lines, whether on a volunteer or paid basis, and/or after I retire.

    I say go for it!
  13. by   adventure_rn
    I completed an ABSN program which only included second-degree students. One of the girls in my class was a professional flutist with a masters degree in music performance; another was a new dad about your age (wife was a nurse) with a Ph.D. who had taught high school history. We also had a former ski instructor, a doula, a police officer, and an actor who had a small role on the TV show House. Many nurses have 'typically atypical' backgrounds, especially in second-degree programs.

    Nursing is an incredibly dynamic field in terms of advancement opportunities, grad school programs, and job flexibility. Having your RN license will open a lot of doors, and it sounds like it could complement your personal and professional goals very well.

    I do want to note something important, especially because this can sometimes create more unrest for men in nursing than for women: You say that you, "really want to be respected." Sometimes, you are going to get a lot of respect from coworkers, doctors, and patients. Sometimes, you are going to have patients, doctors, and coworkers who belittle you are ignorant and condescending. Due to inaccurate media portrayal, nursing can be a very misunderstood field in the public eye. There are certainly still people in the world with the "you're too smart to be a nurse" or "I can't believe you're just a nurse" mentality, especially amongst people who have never been hospitalized. IMO, nurses have a great deal of self-respect within the profession; you'll never hear a nurse say "It's too bad I'm not smart enough, otherwise I'd be a doctor." We recognize and appreciate our own value and skills; some, but not all, doctors and patients do, too. However, you should be aware of this phenomenon before entering the field.

    Best of luck, whatever you decide.
  14. by   0.5GPA
    I'm a 36 yo male. I got a year down and a year to go in my ADN program. I went to college before and got a bachelors in business (never used it)

    Married no kiddos

    You can do it. Clearly you have the intellect for it. It is a major time commitment though. You will have to work that out.

    Some of the things you mentioned are reasions I am working on getting into this line of work (travel, helping others ect)

    Personally I do not want to be an APRN seems like everyone and their sister wants to do that or be a CRNA but I do want to be the best and most certified I can be in what I want to do. I am going for my BSN afterwards but I dunno about after that. The more education you can get the better for sure.

    I think as age was mentioned in your post Nursing has the potential to be a career that can go with you as you age.
    I mean if your a construction worker or a cop you don't have time on your side get hurt and you may not get to see retirement. It seems to me that not really the case with Nursing.

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