Questions For Those Who Switched Careers In Their 30's And Up To Become A Nurse?



My name is Julie. I am 35 years old, (soon to be 36) and a full time, married, working mom in Sunny South Florida.

After 15 years in the sales/customer service/management industry, I have finally decided to fulill my dream of becoming a nurse.

It's just that at 35, I am at a crossroads and it's either NOW or never. Plus with the critical nursing shortage in south Florida, it is so important to get nurses to work here too.

My questions are:

How did/do you manage working full-time and going back to school? Has it been worth it? Do you feel you did the right thing? Is nursing what you thought it would be or not?

Any advise, comments, etc are appreciated :)

Thanks so much!




283 Posts


This post doesn't exactly fit my situation, but I'll post because I did enter Nursing School when I was 30. I was a stay at home mom of 2 children, but not employed outside the home. But something inside me has always wanted to be a Nurse...

While I did not have the challenge of raising a family, going to school AND working an outside job, I did have a challenge in that my husband (ex-husband now) wasn't exactly supportive. He'd try to shame me into not going to study groups..."but the kids need you, how can you leave them with a sitter?"... that sort of thing. Or my favorite was..."yeah, you're doing OK now..(i was getting straight A's)... but if you start getting B's or C's you might want to consider stopping this school stuff." :rolleyes:

I LOVE, absolutely LOVE Nursing. It's not unlike any other work, in that there are always challenges, personality clashes, frustrations and the like. But knowing that my work can actually CHANGE another person's LIFE... there isn't too much that can compare... parenting and raising a child notwithstanding.

I say, if you can find anyway at all... GO FOR IT.

I'll leave the "working mom" comments for those women who truly had to work their arses off to earn their degrees. Kudos to you all.

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Hi Julie:)

I worked numerous other occupations before returning to college to become a nurse. The last job I held was as a Realtor.

I was attending college for the longest majoring in Psych since I wanted to originally be...still do to an extent...a Psychologist. I met a woman in one of my Psych classes that became my best friend...still is to this day. She asked me if I had ever thought of becoming a nurse since she picked up my love for helping people. I said to her that as a child, becoming a doctor was my goal, but many obstacles stood in my way of that dream. She is the one responsible for urging me into the nursing field, thus I switched majors from Psych to Nursing, but still took more Psych courses than my other nursing student peers did.

At one point in the nursing program, I did work part time as a Nursing Assistant, but not until my final year of nursing. I did this to get my foot in the door of the hospital since they paid more to nursing grads who previously worked as Nursing Assistants (didn't have to be certified in those days).

I was married, in my early thirties, mother of three school-aged daughters, very active in my children's school, our church, and the community, so to say I had taken on the roll of "Super Mom" would be putting it lightly. :chuckle

You can do it! Go for whatever you know you can feasibly handle. Perhaps taking your courses one or two at a time...depending on your family and financial situation...will get you closer to your goal. There's nothing wrong in starting out slow this way (I did it as have many nurses). The end result is what matters to you, not how long it takes you to get there. I wish you well in your endeavors. :kiss


148 Posts

Go for it Julie! I am 38 and will be 39 soon and I start nursing school in the fall. I will be 40 when I graduate and almost 41 when I get my first job :D

It's never too late to start a new career! I can't answer your question about working and going to school, because right now I'm not working - BUT I know LOTS of people who are doing it. It's not impossible and with your go get attitude you will do just fine!;)

Specializes in Trauma and Pediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

Julie.... when there is a will there is a way! I just turned 35... and just started my nursing pre-reqs! I hope to start nursing school fall of 2003. I also have 2 children..8 and 5 1/2....and work full time. My hubby has been great and taking on more around the house....we have explained to the kids... that mommy is going to school to become a nurse..... they have been great just have to be determined and NEVER GIVE UP! So the house is a little messier....... so the laundry didn't get done on Wed's like it usually does..... You just have to look at the big picture and focus on your goal and Pray, Pray to God Everyday for his guidance and help! GOOD LUCK!



113 Posts

I had, many times, wanted to go back to school, not that nursing was my lifelong desire exactly, was never the right husband would say things like "if you take a class this summer, how am I going to go on vacation".....etc.

Well, after my marriage dissolved (wonder why?) I moved into my new house in December, started nursing school in January.

I had 3 kids, ages 5,3,1. worked nights as a server in Houlihans, was as poor as dirt. Had to take student loans to pay for the daycare!!!

It was PURE HELL !

As they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

No matter how crappy the day is at work, I thank God every day that I am a NURSE! (and now i am slightly richer than dirt! haha)

Nursing IS what I thought it would be, and I am good at it.

Good luck with your decision.

Always remember, you can follow your dreams or not, but in 5 years you will still be 5 years older no matter what.


50 Posts

I went back to school at 37 years old and graduated at 40.

I have been in nursing for ten years and though there are things I don't like about the profession, there has been more good than bad.

I say go for it. If it is what you want, you will get through it and be glad you did it.

Try to get student loans and grants, so you don't have to work full time. That's what I did. The longer you are in school, the more grant money becomes available.

Good luck!!


1,244 Posts

I went back to school at age 45, and had to work fulltime and had one child home. Working over 32 hours a week as a CNA qualified me for tuition reimbursement. The schedule that worked best for me was to work 3 pm to 7 am on Friday and Saturdays. I also got more for weekend and shift diff. The rest of the week was free for studying. Hubby stayed home and kept the home fires going, the computer working, and did everything for me except open the textbooks. Son was absolutely gold, helping out wherever and whenever he could--and still does.

Worked doubles during school breaks, and did nothing but study, and work my tail off for 3 years, but I finally graduated with my ADN. Phi Theta Kappa invited me to join, but I didn't have the money.

Advice: join. You're on the honor roll with them at a 3.0, but I missed the general honor roll--had to have a 3.30-- by 0.002 of a point with a 3.298.

A few months after graduation, Hubby got a job--I actually made LESS money as a graduate RN than as a top-level CNA. Now, after 2 years, we're doing ok financially, plus I don't have any loans to pay back.

Don't forget that FL passed a new law to help pay off your loans too, so that might help. If you can do it without working, do it that way; this program places incredible stress on your relationships and really changes who you are.

Is it worth it? Oh yes! I love what I do!



27 Posts

Go for it. Do whatever you need to do.

I was 32 (I think) when I started nursing school. I was blessed with an understanding (already a nurse) wife who encouraged me to keep plugging away. Besides marrying my wife, going to nursing school was the best decision I ever made. :)


182 Posts

Specializes in Neuroscience ICU, CNRN, SCRN. Has 13 years experience.

Hello from North Florida! I'm 46 and just started my prereqs the first of this year...I hope to be accepted into the nursing program next spring. Being a nurse is something I've always wanted to do, and I don't mind the classes after a long day at work (I currently work full time for a major brokerage firm) because the material is very interesting to me. Nursing has always been my dream, but the timing never seemed quite right until now. I think the events of 9/11 really helped me make the decision to change careers. Plus, my youngest child got her driver's license this spring, and that freed up more time for me to devote to my goals. My husband and children are very supportive, and I think the hardest thing for me will be sacrificing my income (I'm currently the primary breadwinner for our family) until I graduate with my ADN. But I think it will be worth it in the long run, because this is a goal I've always longed to reach. I've received nothing but positive feedback from my co-workers who know that I'm back in school, and I'm wise enough to accept that there are negatives in the profession (the shortage, "low" pay, dealing with managed care and administration). I also know, since I've been part of corporate America since I graduated high school 28 years ago, that you have those things to deal with no matter where you work. The bottom line is, you will never know what you can do until you try. And if nursing is your goal, than I say, "Go for it!" Best of luck to you!


1,041 Posts

Um 37, and I started my prereq's at 35. I MADE it into Portland Community College School of Nursing and will have my RN in Spring 2004. I work 32 hours a week as a CNA at a cardiac telemetry unit.

I have no kids and am single and soak up information like a sponge. I can't wait to begin school. This summer I will review all my notes from two years and really be the best nurse on planet Earth


I just wish I had a manager who could set me up with dates because almost all the student nurses are married with children. :chuckle

Best of Luck to all the "thirty-something" nurses


180 Posts

i work seventy hours a fortnight in a nursing home (ltc i think you call it), i have four boys (10,8,5 & 4) all of whom have extra curricular activities( mon free, tues karate for two, wed gym for one, thurs gym for one, karate for two, fri soccer for one , sat swimming for four and soccer for one, sun free) and i study nursing full time at uni.

and it's one of the best decisions i ever made. i'm thirty-one this year, hubby is thirty-two and works full time but we still manage to fit in the occaisional weekend away and i think that's what keeps us sane.

new mantra for meditation is

" it's only three years, it's only three years"

you can do it, the house work is never done, the washing gets hung up and ironed if it needs it five minutes before we leave, i'm no longer so obsesive about the kids and they're more independant of me and we treasure the times we have together all the more because we have to plan it. we always have dinner together as i'm able to leave the ward for most dinner breaks.

if i can do it, anyone can, i promise.[/color/] you wont regret a thing. good luck and best wishes!! :) :) :kiss :kiss