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57+ and starting a nursing career

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Is 57+ too late to begin a nursing career?

  1. 1. Is 57+ too late to begin a nursing career?

78 members have participated

Hi, I'll be resigning my position as a 1st grade teacher to complete prerequisite courses before applying to nursing programs. I'm 54 and will be graduating about 57/58. Needless to say I'm concerned about employment upon graduation. Is there anyone 54 or older currently enrolled in an accelerated BSN program or BSN to DNP program willing to share their experience with me? Your likes, dislikes, regrets, what's it like to be back in the classroom or are you completing an on-line degree? Also I'd like to hear from new graduates 57+ who have secured or are currently seeking employment? Anyone a recipient of the NHSC scholarship? Really looking forward to your feedback.

Thanks, Kelley

Kelley, I am a guy, and I too went back to school to study nursing as a second career. I graduated with my ASN when I was 55, and I am 57 now.

It was nice to know that I still had the mental ability to learn totally new things at the college level. I earned my first degree - a bachelors degree in engineering - almost 30 years ago. I suspect you will do fine in your classes.

Now, as for whether it is worth it for you - only you can decide. Be warned that the so-called "nursing shortage" is just that - "so-called". There IS no nursing shortage. Long-time nurses are staying in the profession longer, and health care in general is moving away from acute-care hospitals, and towards LTC and home care. If your dream is to become an acute-care nurse in a hospital, you WILL be frustrated, unless you live in one of those rare pockets of the country where there really is a localized nursing shortage.

Otherwise, you will be working in LTC or home care. There is certainly nothing wrong with either field, and there are even some advantages, such as 8-hour shifts instead of the typical 12-hour hospital shift. Just go into it with open eyes. You may find yourself missing your days as a teacher, as I have found myself missing my days as an engineer.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

Welcome!

What has you seeking a nursing career at this point in your life?

Bear in mind there is no nursing shortage. As Dewman said above....many areas of the country has a plethora of nurses and many who have flocked to the profession in the last 5 year are finding it difficult to find employment. California has an almost 47% unemployment rate. A BSN is really the hiring standard these days and while some of your course work will be online.

Nurses by Metropolitan Area (city and its surroundings)Nurses Schools, Salaries, and Job Data

In the table below, a Job Density near 0% means the area has an average number of people in this occupation, for its population. A higher or lower Job Density (e.g., +22% or -45%) tells you there are that many more or fewer workers of that type there than in the average US metro area. So, the higher the number, the more common the occupation

ALL programs have an onsite clinical component. Nursing is a challenge for most second career seekers. Nursing is unlike any other profession for it's all encompassing nature and find it challenging. Nurses think differently and all answers are correct but you must seek the most correct for any situation. As far as the school goes it's their way or the highway.

NHSC scholarships...depending on where you live can be limited to nurse practitioners only and may only include correction facilities. Look BEFORE you leap.

Edited by Esme12

Ruas61, BSN, RN

Specializes in MDS/ UR. Has 38 years experience.

It's never to late.

However, I can't imagine doing this for anything other than indulgence for personal fulfillment or such.

Thanks for your response, Dewman. Why don't you go back to engineering? One of the reasons I feel confident about "trying" a second career is that I know I can always go back to teaching. It gives me a sense of security.

Hi Ruas61. Helping others makes me feel good. I love teaching but know I couldn't retire as a elementary school teacher. I believe that working one on one with people would be more rewarding, particularly geriatric care. As I am in that population, my parents too, I'd like to specialize in this area. And better pay is also a plus. So you're right, it's all about personal fulfillment.

Thanks, Kelley. I probably WILL go back to engineering - even if I have to travel MUCH farther to work. And it IS nice having that as a fallback position.

Good luck in your decision. And BTW, I have nothing but respect for teachers. My mom was one, my MIL, my sister, my SILs and BIL - all teachers. It's a very important and noble profession.

The pay sucks, but there you go... ;)

Good evening, Esme12. I like your quotes. Especially the one about insanity. Which is why I have to leave the teaching profession. I'm interested in primary care. I'm in the Virgin Islands and things are probably very different here. We have many travelling nurses from the Philippines. Most nursing student graduates from UVI relocate to the continental US for better pay once they've gained experience locally. Those who leave to continue their education typically don't return. I'd also like to mention I've read that 2nd degree students do very well academically. That was a motivator. But after reading your post, I think I better look into that claim diligently.

Esme 12, thanks for the word documents. I'll look for more Daytonite posts. Apparently she loved nursing and educating others.

applewhitern, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 30 years experience.

Also please be aware that nursing jobs in "geriatrics" usually involves patients who have dementia or Alzheimer's, and often get confused and can be quite a handful to care for. I rarely have anyone in the geriatric population who is completely oriented. I also rarely have much "one on one" time, either, as I usually have more than one patient. You said you are in that age group, as are your parents; people in their 50's are not considered "geriatric;" I am 57 and am NOT geriatric, thank you very much! I know you are not in my area; I live on the Florida panhandle, but school teachers around here make about the same as nurses do, plus the teachers get lots more benefits. As a nurse you will work nights, week-ends, holidays, etc. Anyway, good luck in your decision.

Fiona59

Has 18 years experience.

Geriatrics is the least rewarding area of nursing I can think of. Under funded and understaffed.

It isn't full of sweet little old people who will be grateful for your assistance. Dementia is a horrible disease. You find yourself wondering why you are assisting in prolonging life in many of your patients.

And there is a huge risk of injury in this field. I know of people who have been seriously assaulted and injured while caring for this population.

Nursing school is tough on the mind and the body. Knees, shoulders and backs just aren't what they used to be after 45.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

Esme 12, thanks for the word documents. I'll look for more Daytonite posts. Apparently she loved nursing and educating others.
We sadly lost Daytonite to cancer in 2010...her legacy lives on....we have student forums you might want to visit

General Nursing Student

Nursing Student Assistance

Hi Applewhitern, it's a relief to know that we're not in the geriatric group yet, whoa. However, my interest in geriatrics has to do with my grandmother. She was in her 80s and had thyroid cancer. Before the illness consumed the person I loved, she made it clear that she wanted to die at home and so she did. I saw what being ill did to her as she slowly became a stranger to me. She no longer spoke. She sat around, spat on people and bit them. She was once very funny, always had food and coffee ready for visitors, and she always had guests. But, that became my memory of her. Now, I was scared of her and stopped visiting. As I said she died in her bed. When I arrived, apparently something was abnormal about the sound that escaped my mouth because everyone got frightened and tried to calm me down. But they didn't know why I was heart broken. We all knew she was going to die. No one was surprised. I was ashamed. I wondered if she realized that I stopped coming. Did she want to see me (I once visited several times a week, every week, for years). My grandmother was fortunate to have soooo many people who loved her and cared for her until her death. I abandoned her like many others must abandoned their elderly. I believe everyone should have someone who cares about them present during the times when they need someone most even if the only someone is a nurse. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I guess I might be trying to right a wrong that's only in my head.

Hi Fiona59. That makes me extremely anger. Animals, children, and especially the elderly are always abused physically and emotionally because they are the most vulnerable among us. I don't know if we (society) can ever rights this wrong but the sad truth is I don't think we ever will.

Thanks Esme12. I'll visit those sites.

Ruas61, BSN, RN

Specializes in MDS/ UR. Has 38 years experience.

Not everyone abandons their elders. Compassion and empathy are a wonderful thing but it needs to extend to everyone. I would gently remind you that someone not present might have reasons or circumstances that are unknown.

pmabraham, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care. Has 3 years experience.

Good day, kelleytison:

When I looked into starting nursing at age 50 last year, my vocational counselor gave me the name and number of a gentlemen who was a mechanic for decades who started LPN nursing school at age 65. He's retired now, and shared two main things: 1) it was the best decision he made in his life, and 2) he would have went for an RN had he known better.

Thank you.

Hi Ruas61,

I know that everyone doesn't abandon their elderly family members. I stopped visiting my grandmother but as I mentioned, she passed away in her own bed. My aunt stopped working to take care of her mom and my grandmother's other children, grandchildren, siblings, pastor, and friends were always present. I also agree that there are those who will be absent for reasons/circumstances unknown. I had a reason for not being there that nobody knew. I only wish to extend the compassion and empathy I didn't give my grandmother to individuals who have love ones who can't be for reasons or circumstances unknown. And for those who do have someone (many do), a little more compassion might only make them feel better.