Jump to content

Should I go from LPN to RN at age 60?

Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Nurse Beth specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I'm currently enrolled in school. Would like to do my RN. I'm a LPN 30 plus years. Am I being unrealistic about becoming an RN and being able to find a job at 60 or older?

Dear Unrealistic,

A lot of people will tell you to go for it and there are successful examples of people who do get their RN at a later age. But those same people may not tell you that you will have far more challenges than your classmates. Ageism in nursing is real.

Two things are highly important as you make your decision.


First, it's important is to be realistic. By simply posing the question "Am I unrealistic about finding a job at age 60?" and because you're an LPN, you do seem to be realistic. As an LPN, you already know that bedside nursing is physically demanding and you likely have few delusions about the nature of the work, although there is a big role difference between LPN and RN.

Job-wise, you will be competing for new grad positions with candidates who are decades younger than you. All things being equal, an employer will hire the younger employee who is not as likely to use as many costly insurance benefits, for example, or who is more willing to work overtime. Some employers prefer younger candidates because they are more malleable. They are not as likely to question leadership decisions and are less critical.

Keep in mind that as a new grad, you will not necessarily be seen as more qualified because you have LPN experience. Some employers do not view LPN experience as an advantage. Those that do not view it as an advantage may actually view 30 yrs of LPN experience as a disadvantage. They will question if you will be able to successfully transition to the new role of RN. You will need to let go of your LPN mindset and adopt an RN role and mindset.

At age 60+, you will have to try harder than others to land your first position. You may need to consider settings more undesirable and locations in outlying areas. Are you able/willing to work night shift, and are you open to skilled nursing? Would you re-locate if there are no jobs in your area?

How is your stamina? Take stock of your health and estimate how long you plan to stay in the workforce. For many people, working until 70 is entirely doable. You could work a few years on the floor, then transfer to a less demanding job, such as infection prevention, or wound care consult.

You say you are already in school, and that's good. You have a student mindset, and are oriented to school in general. The RN program is intense, and not easy. Once you commit, stay the course and keep your eye on the goal. Many clinical aspects will be much more comfortable for you than for your classmates, as you will not have the jitters inserting a nasogastric tube or foley catheter.

Personal Importance

The second consideration is to weigh how important this is to you. Choosing to get your RN means choosing not to do other things. You will spend less time with family and friends and temporarily suspend most hobbies.

But ultimately, if it's your life desire to be an RN, and you will regret having not done so, do it.

If you deeply want this , you will find a way to not only earn your license, but to land a job. Your personal desire outweighs your age, your finances, and most all obstacles. Along the way, you will inspire others.

Key Tips

During nursing school, network energetically and purposefully. Don't wait until you graduate to make connections to land a job. Make yourself seen on the floor and introduce yourself to the nurse manager. Leave a personal note thanking her/him for the clinical rotation experience on their unit, with your contact information. Let them know you will be applying for a job.

Read my book below before your second year for many more such strategies . It will give you the insider tips you need to make your application stand out among others, which is needed just to land an interview. You can be amazing in person, but to impress them you have to capture their attention with a compelling resume and cover letter. It's estimated you have 3 seconds to gain the reader's attention with your resume.

Once you have an interview, you must go in prepared and at the top of your game. This means knowing what questions will be asked, and what they are looking for in your responses. An example is how to answer "What's your greatest weakness?" and what not to say.

Landing the right job for you will be a process, not an event. I hope you will keep us apprised of your decision, and I'm rooting for you!

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Start your job search today!

Nurse Johnny specializes in Rehab/Geriatric.

And while Nurse Beth brought up some valid, realistic points, those same points are also true in any profession when it comes to ageism. What you do have in your favor is a profession with more job opportunities than nurses. I say if you are passionate and determined to make the transformation, Do It!
I am 52 and have no intention of stopping my advancement in this amazing career until I decide to. It's true about being realistic, but there are innumerable jobs for the dedicated.

Rose_Queen specializes in OR, education.

1 hour ago, Nurse Johnny said:

What you do have in your favor is a profession with more job opportunities than nurses.

There is nothing universal about a nursing shortage. There are pockets of shortages and pockets of surplus throughout the country. OP would be wise to investigate the market in his/her current location to determine what their local job market is.

I say go for it. If you work in LTC, going from an LPN to an RN is a big pay increase (around $10/hr in my area) for doing the same work (at least in the facilities I've seen/worked in). Sure, it also opens up possibilities in hospitals, but new grad programs and such aren't the only option if you find your age to be a difficulty (assuming you can do this work as I think it's the most common type of job work as an LPN).

Also, practically speaking, social security benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings, so bumping it up for 10 years or so could be beneficial for you into retirement, too (if you are not already maxed).

Take all previously mentioned precautions and make certain you have a plan B or C in place for the unexpected. A steep reversal in health, the inability to find a job at all after graduation, the inability to finish school and obtain the license for whatever reason, etc. There are possible negative outcomes here. At your age, you may not have the bounce back ability or room that you would need. Think about it from every angle and choose your following steps accordingly. Mid to late 60's is no time to have your back against the wall with no one, or no way to help yourself out of a predicament. I can attest to the fact that employers are no more eager to hire a 60's something than they are to hire someone starting over again at 42. Ageism is there and it is real.


By using the site you agree to our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies.