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Nursing as a 2nd Career. Beginning after 50 yrs.

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by cnpeterson2000 cnpeterson2000 (New) New

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After almost 30 years in a totally unrelated field, I seem to be being led to a career in nursing. I have done a lot of research and self-evaluation. I think that I have the stamina, persistence, intelligence, and attitude to be a good nurse. I have received mostly positive feedback from the nurses that I have talked to. My big question is whether this is really a practical path for me to pursue. In the best case scenario I would be starting my nursing career at 54 years old. Physically, I am not worried. My present career requires me to be physically fit, able to work on my feet for really long hours, and deal with a lot of stress. I wonder whether I would be hired. I wonder if I would fit in at school and as a new nurse possibly older than his supervisors. It is a risky and expensive step to go to nursing school. One that might have some people who know me shaking their heads in surprise; but one that might fulfill a number of unfulfilled desires. I wonder whether I would have time to have a rewarding career, that would make the investment worthwhile, before I became physically too old to do it. Any feedback, both positive and negative, will help me. Thanks

Carl

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32 Posts; 1,360 Profile Views

Carl -

I too am over 50. I went to nursing school because it was a childhood dream. If I didn't have that dream and a love of learning - there were many times when I might have just quit (horrid teachers, mean spirited co-workers, tough days when we were short shifted, etc.....)

I have found both age discrimination and the "eat the young" syndrome when I worked in the Hospital - I also found some great co-workers that really did try to help (and for that I am greatful!) I had worked over 20 years in Info Systems before nursing. Nursing has a very different culture - learning that culture was one of the most difficult things - learning the skills was easy by comparison... I am guessing you might be male - you may have an even harder time.

I say go for it - even though right now it seems there is a nursing glut (no new grad opportunities, hiring freezes and layoffs) who knows - in a couple of years or so it could all turn around quickly.....

I'm really glad I went to nursing school, I am happy with my choice. I am able to do good things for people and I have the knowledge to make a difference, even if I don't work in hospital (I work in a Blood center collecting donations and working on software for collections) and mostly advise my friends and family.

Good Luck!

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llg has 43 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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Another consideration = finances. Are you able to get the education you would need without having to take out any loans. I am 53 years old, and the last thing I would want to be doing at this point in my life is to be draining my savings and/or taking on a big debt.

Think that part through very carefully before "quitting your day job."

Are there other options that would be less risky, but that would give you some of the personal satisfaction that you believe nursing would give you? Can you adapt your current skills and credentials to the health care setting? Would taking just a few courses in something give you "something extra" that would allow you to adapt your current skills for the health care setting? Have you looked at othe health care careers -- or helping careers in general -- that might offer similar satisfaction without requiring such a big investment and risk in education?

Have you volunteered in a hospital? I would definitely do that before making any big committments.

I'm not saying "don't do it." Some people who enter the profession late in life are happy with their choice. However, I've known several who regreted it -- or who at least had very serious doubts when they took on a lot of debt and then discovered that nursing was not as wonderful as they dreamed it would be.

Do LOTS of homework on ALL of your options before you make a big investment.

Edited by llg

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suzy253 is a RN and specializes in Telemetry/Med Surg.

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I graduated nursing school 3 years ago at age 53. Best move I've ever made. Go for it.

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When you wrote "Nursing has a very different culture" it made me wonder whether this was something that could be articulated. The work that I do now (motion picture and television production) has a very different culture and not the one that you might expect.

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243 Posts; 3,996 Profile Views

I graduated from nursing school at 52, 1/2 years ago after many years of school. Yes, you will be studying in a class with students 1/2 your age, nursing school isn't a walk in the park, there will be a number of prerequisites. Here in California it's very difficult to even get in---lottery in some cases.

BUT, I too think it's been one of the best investments I've ever made. I work in a hospital. Giving care to those who so need it-the rewards are worth the efforts despite the hard work physically, mentally, emotionally. Yeah there's a nursing culture...as in any career world. To get in to it would take another couple threads. Start with nursing school or as someone suggested volunteer--you'll begin to grasp a feel for that culture without investing too much time or money. Best of luck to you! :wink2:

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61 Posts; 2,261 Profile Views

I, too, would like to hear more about the "very different culture." I have been volunteering in a local hospital emergency room. Some of the nurses seem overly consumed in interpersonal drama, but it's a tense environment, and that just seems to be a different flavor of office politics that I know well.

Within the next week, I am going to have to make a decision whether to attend an ASN program, accelerated bachelors, direct entry masters, or forget the whole second career obsession. I "retired" at age 47 when my company closed its regional office. Retirement is overrated! Taking on a huge amount of debt and entering a new profession makes little financial sense. I could consult within my previous field and do reasonably well. I am not getting a huge amount of support from family or friends regarding a career change. If they don't explicitly ask me if I'm crazy, they're thinking it.

That said, I like to think that I can do more than one thing in my life. I've always traveled, and nursing is more internationally transportable than my previous occupational skills. I also like the fact that the hours are flexible.

I don't have any specific questions, but would like to keep this topic alive.

When you wrote "Nursing has a very different culture" it made me wonder whether this was something that could be articulated. The work that I do now (motion picture and television production) has a very different culture and not the one that you might expect.

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2 Posts; 767 Profile Views

I am a 50 year old nurse, a male, and nursing is a new career. I got my nursing degree when I was 48, got licensed at 49, and now, at 50, am racking up experience at the hospital. Oh, and also doing my M.A. in Nursing Education.

The pay's nowhere near what I used to make but the change in career is - like fresh air - such a welcome relief. I'm glad I made the shift from the boardroom to the ER.

I would have to agree with those who caution you to audit your finances versus the opportunities in Nursing. I have had to make a substantial investment in my studies and continue to do so. However, in my assessment, I have better prospects of being productive workwise in the Nursing career till retirement age than I would in my previous work. Also, there is the universal applicability of Nursing as a career, something that cannot be said of my former work for which there are limited potential employers.

Finally, there is the importance of assessing your own frame of mind. As a new and much older nurse, I have to gamely pursue trimming down as well as be willing to go through anything that a younger nurse would go through. It's part of the self-training. If you find that you have reservations of putting up with what a new nurse has to put up with on account of your being older and more mature, you might create a self-fulfilling scenario of not being able to hack it in the nursing profession. I treat it as a mind game and, at the end of the day, I savor the thanks that patients give me for all it's worth. :)

Edited by maginoo

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