old. starting new. self-conscious


I'm 37, nursing is my 2nd career. I have worked in a small hospital for 6 years and loved my work. Finally I got my dream job in a large hospital ICU and started there 2 months ago. Things are going well but...

Most of my coworkers/preceptors are in their early to mid 20s, one charge nurse actually graduated the same year but he started right from ICU while I worked in med-surg. I sometimes feel self-conscious for being "old" but "new" in the field.

I know I should always push myself to learn, and I always wanted to work in ICU. I am graduating from NP school in 2 years. Sometimes I wonder why I'm switching to a new field for two years. It's so much easier to do what I already know and be where I was already comfortable.

Just venting, I guess, so much to learn and still nervous.


146 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

I'm in a similar boat. I'm a 35 year old new grad just starting orientation in the MICU. I know so little and it makes me feel a lot younger/self-conscious.

No advice, just solidarity

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 27 years experience.

The choice to change specialties while in NP school -- especially from med-surg to ICU, is interesting. Unless you are going for acute-care NP (you didn't say) -- in that case I could see why you'd want to do it. Seems like a whole lot of extra learning curve that is unnecessary for you in the long-run.

But as far as the age thing? Nothing to sweat. That's the great thing about nursing... it's a good second career and you really do see diversity in graduates.


1 Post

I started in a large hospital Surgical/Trauma ICU as a new graduate at Age 36 with zero medical background. (What was I thinking?! IDK) It was brutal. I relied heavily on the grit and backbone that got me thru the rest of my life to that point. Adopt the mentality that growth happens when you are uncomfortable and be willing to be uncomfortable for as long as it takes to feel confident. A lot of the battle is your own mind and with yourself. Accept that you might not be besties with the people you work with but everyone you meet brings something to the table (as do you!) I look at some of these 20 somethings excelling in this profession in a critical environment and am IMPRESSED. I wasn't nearly as responsible at that age. Give credit where credit is due. To others and to yourself! Take things one shift at a time and as the months pass, years pass and you become competent in critical care. It's not magic and it doesn't happen overnight. Experience is the mother of all teachers. And finally, you know more than you think you do.:yes:

Specializes in Burn, ICU. Has 10 years experience.

I started as a new grad in an ICU at 35. The unit was divided at the time...several nurses were older than I was, and the rest were young to mid 20's in their first careers. I had worked for a university before, but in a very different field, so I definitely felt a bit of culture shock!

I think you'll learn a lot in the ICU, even if you don't plan to stay long. Just the other day I had a patient who looked kind of okay but very different than baseline. I called the doctors and was able to raise their level of concern enough that we started intervening before it became a crisis. This was a supposedly stable patient who had been in the hospital for several days...I can honestly say that if I hadn't been concerned, their outcome would have been much worse. As an NP, I imagine those cases will be rare but will still happen! The more you've seen, the more resources you'll have in your toolkit.


144 Posts

Specializes in Hospice. Has 6 years experience.

I started as a new graduate nurse in Med/Surg at age 59. Believe when I tell you that there are benefits to being older than the average. My patients are usually closer to my age than the age of the typical nurse. Rightly or wrongly, they are often much more comfortable interacting with me and tend to value my advice and instructions more than when coming from a younger nurse.

You have life experience, have developed judgement and maturity. These will stand you in good stead as you progress in your careers