What to do, what to do?


I'm nearly 56 years old, have a 10 year old son and am a single mom. I used to be in hi tech but got laid off in 2001. Since then employment has been sporadic and I need to move a career that has a decent future where they'll emply me even if I'm 60.

I live in Orlando, and right now RN jobs are scarce, but we're building a new VA hospital, Nemours Children Hospital, etc. By the time I would get out of school I'd have chance at employment (I think).

My original plan was to go to RN school out of high school, I was accepted by 3 schools (this was in the 1970s), but I didn't go. I'd love to get back into nursing but have to way the cost of school versus the cost of time (at my age). My long term desire would be to be a nurse anesthetist .

I'm apparently elligible for a Pell grant up to $6000. But I still have to feed and clothe my son and me!

I know this is long, but bear with me.

I have a BFA, but none of the pre-reqs. As I see it here are my options -- but I can't figure out which makes the most sense for me.

1 -- Go for an accelerated BSN at Remington College. $36,500 (tyvm), but in and out probably in 18 months with a BSN so I can then go on for my MSN in a chosen field. After about 3 years I should have an advanced degree;

2 -- Go for an LPN with the Pell Grant, get a job with benefits after a year. Do the online RN (another year to an ASN), go for the BSN (another 2 years?) and then MSN. This looks like 4-5 yeas to me and although the costs for school would be cheaper I still have the cost to live. Of course hopefully after the LPN I could get a job and at least live while continuing school. . .

3 -- Go for a BA to BSN program at SCC. 6 months (at least) for pre-reqs. 2.5 years at SCC to get first the ASN and then the BSN. Total 3 years for the BSN and then another 1-2 for the MSN. Timeframe seems similar to choice #2, but with no income potential (the LPN I can get a job and do most course work online). I did interview at SCC and was very impressed with what I saw, plus they seem to be willing to help me figure out the financial aid. . .

As a child I read Sue Barton nursing books and always dreamed of being a nurse. Now, given my age and the "roadblocks" (financial, time and single motherhood) I simply don't know which way to turn, or who can help me (advice wise). I've lurked here for a long time and know there is a wealth of knowledge here. What would you do if you were me?

PS -- for the prereqs what is the best route here in Orlando? SCC?

If I go the LPN route which is the best way to go? I'm thinking Orlando Tech for the LPN IF I can get in -- I understand there is a waiting list! :sniff:


43 Posts


I admire you! I think that in your situation the LPN route is a better option. Orlandotech is a great school and they don't require prerequisites. Another option for LPN is SCC but you will have to complete a few classes before applying to the program. TECO is in Kissimmee, maybe a little far for you but I've heard good things about them too. Good luck in your journey!!!!


44 Posts

Read some of the other posts here...hospitals are not taking LPNs anymore, and the ones that still do are forcing their LPNs to get their RN...soon all will go the way of RN. Something to think about so you don't waste your time and find yourself as an LPN competing with a bunch of RNs for work

allnurses Guide

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

I suggest you do a search of this site and read the threads in which people discuss the downside of starting a nursing career when you are over 50 years old. Many, many of us older nurses advise against doing that -- particularly if you have to go into debt to do it.

Beginner-level nursing roles a lot of physical labor and many older nurses have problems working in those roles as they age. Yes, there are jobs that require less physical strength and stamina, but those jobs usually require advanced education and/or considerable nursing experience.

I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide ... but I urge to do a lot of research before investing much in a nursing career at your age. It could be the right decision for a few people -- but it would be the wrong decision for most people.

Finally ... as you read the posts on this topic on this site, always look at 2 things:

1. How old is the person writing the post? Do they have experience with aging?

2. How much real nursing experience do they have? Inexperienced nurses and/or students may not be fully aware of what it takes to get those jobs that are less physically demanding and more suitable for an older worker.

llg -- age= 54. 32 years of nursing experience


514 Posts

I have to agree with llg.

I started very late and I just can't tell you how hard it is. It's so easy for people to say, go for it, you're as young as you feel, etc... but there are realities you must work so extremely hard to overcome. Floor nursing is the hardest, most stressful job I EVER could have imagined doing. And you WILL very likely be stuck doing it. To go into an advanced practice is going to require experience on top of education.

I have written about this before, but just watch young people at a computer - I mean really watch. You may think you're fast, they are a zillion times faster. You may think you are a good learner or that wisdom or ethics will help you, and they will, but for all the advantages, your ability to cope with the pace and stress, not to mention the physical demands are significantly compromised by age.

You are used to being good at what you do, good at life in general. It is incredibly, indescribably difficult to be put in an environment where EVERYTHING is new to you and you need to understand and perform very quickly. I guarantee you that school does not prepare you in the least. You find youself out of your comfort zone 24/7 for a very long time.

Even now, with 2 years experience, I realize that my short term memory is a real problem for me. Yes, I write everything down but there are still limitations. It's just hard to imagine until you're there. I tell a unit secretary something and she'll tell me I just told her that 10 minutes ago. No way, I think, but I'm sure it's true and it worries me. There are some things that no matter how many times I do them, I still forget the exact policies, etc. Are there gaps I never find out about?

This is just my view. I went through with a BSN graduating at age 50. Everyone said I was such a "young" 50. I graduated with very high honors and thought school was the most incredibly difficult thing I had ever done. Then, I started working... I thought I would be off the floor by now, but it is not as easy as it sounds, plus the money when you leave the floor is signficantly reduced.

Also, can you work nights? Can you rotate? It's VERY hard to graduate and immediately find a "day" job. And get the facts on starting pay rates in your area. You may be very unpleasantly surprised. BTW, starting with an MSN gets you nothing extra. I'm working side by side with nurses who are acutally nurse practioners, some with additional advanced degrees.

I'm sorry to be so negative, but just want you to have the other side of the story.


514 Posts

Couple more things:

How's your hearing and eyesight? Will you be abe to hear people talking quietly through masks? Can you see details in low light? Honestly, it's necessary. There's also no time on a busy floor to switch to reading glasses, and no where to put them anyway.

Can you bend, push and lift heavy loads? There's all kinds of lip service about getting help with these things, using correct technique, but the reality is far different. The push to just get things done and quickly, brings a tremendous amount of pressure to just do it all yourself.

I only know a few nurses my age or older, working at a few different hospitals. ALL of them have been out on disability due to on-the-job injuries, a couple with surgeries. Luckily I have been spared this, but for how long? I really cannot imagine doing this job at 60, and remember, people would never even guess I'm as old as I am, and are constantly asking what my "secret" is.


44 Posts

I am a young looking 42 and starting a new career as well...actually 20 years ago, I was on my way to medical school when my son was born, so I put my plans aside and went off into the computer programming field...4 years ago I made a career change and became a pharmaceutical rep for one of the big ones...then, the layoffs came and I got caught up in the wave, even after winning awards and such...it was pretty scary because I have always held a job since I was 15 years old...luckily I had saved some money for those rainy days.

Well, I enjoyed working as a pharma rep in the medical field with medical staff and patients...that brought back my days when I was a pre-med student and a volunteer at Baptist ER......so after my layoff, I decided to make another career change to something I enjoy doing...mind you, all this experience and with a BA in Finance and AS in Chemistry.

I just got accepted to the RN program at MDC in January 2010...hopefully I can bring all my experience and go into some unique areas of nursing in technology or so.

My whole point is that it looks like the trend nowadays is to expect to change careers 2-3 times in your life...and you are never too old to go back to school, but you do have to be realistic as to what your potential is...what you can and can't do...and compared to young folk, we are probably smarter and more experienced in many other ways and we have a sense of urgency since we really do not have a lot of time to waste. At least that's how I look at it...I was amazed going back to school at the caliber of students nowadays...I just hope the trend it to put the highest qualified nurses into the field as opposed to lowering the bar so anyone can become a nurse...there are many young students in these classes that need to mature enough before being asked to take care of the elderly or infirmed.


3 Posts

First of all, thank you to everyone who responded with "words of wisdom." I really appreciate it and realize that I have to take a cold hard look at myself in the mirror.

I have physical stamina (hey, I have a 10 year old!), but will I in another 3 years? 5 years?

My eyesight is bad and always has been, but as I age I need to take my glasses off to read things. :imbar Hearing is great (hey, I have a 10 year old!). :coollook:

I have been reading and lurking for quite awhile, but hadn't read about older nurses -- so thanks for this advice. I'll definitely do that right now.

I was thinking about Florida Hospital's program because they admit classes 3 times a year and I was thinking I might have a better shot at a job if I attend there. Remington ($36,500 for one year) requires pre-reqs that I wouldn't have time to complete for their January class. Herzing? Keiser? SCC? Sigh.

I think I'll go back into lurk mode for awhile. Thanks.

Aside from the age difference, you and I are almost in the exact same situation. I have a BS already and applied to Remington for the July class. Even if I get accepted I probably won't be able to go because I have a 4 year old and the arrangements that I made for him while I was in the program just fell through. So now, I'm basically back to square one. I've weighed my options, which were almost identical to yours, and I believe there's one important thing that's a little off as I was reading yours. You're timeline isn't exactly realistic.

Remington is a 12 mo BSN program, but you would also need to add at least one year of critical care experience to apply to CRNA school (this is my ultimate goal as well). CRNA school is extremely competitive, and each school I've spoken with says that most applicants have at least 4 years of experience. So yes, only one year is required, but it most likely wont make you competitive. You would also need to tack on another year to get your pre-reqs out of the way, so realistically, you're looking at 6 years of prep (give or take a year for experience) plus 2 and half more for CRNA school which makes a total of 8-9 years... not 3.

I also thought about doing the LPN thing and then enrolling into ISU's LPN-BSN bridge, but I kept hearing what a previous poster said about hospitals not hiring LPNs anymore. Besides, the time to get licensed as an LPN is about the same for me to get my RN license, so there's no real benefit for me there.

Then there's the option of doing what I just recently decided to do, go the ASN route. I already have my prereqs done, so I would only need to do the core classes which is 16 mo at Keiser (cost=28K). Everywhere else takes 2 years and I don't want to wait that long, and Herzing isn't accredited so they're not an option. My only reservation is finding a job while having just the ASN because I will be competing with BSN applicants, but I've spoken with the HR dept at some hospitals and they said that they still hire ASN apps with no problem. All a person really needs is one yes because experience trumps all when it comes to nursing, so later on it won't matter which degree I had, as long as I have the experience.

For me, going this way is better. I will only be in school for 4 extra mo when comparing it to Remington (not too bad), and while I'm getting the experience that I need for CRNA school, I plan to get my BSN from the Florida Hospital online program, which hopefully my job will pay for. Florida Hospital gives preference to their students when admitting apps into their CRNA program so it makes sense for me to go there. The total cost for me to go this route is only 28K (provided that my employer pays for my BSN program, if not, about 45K), and the total time before I can finally work as a CRNA is about 7 years which would be the same for me even if I went to Remington (still 8-9 for you because of your prereqs), and less expensive because Remington is 36K. At least this way I won't have to put myself and my son under the unnecessary stress by being in the accelerated program... and from what I keep hearing from the students I met that go there... it is EXTREMELY stressful.

I hope this helps. I agonized for months over making the right decision, so I know exactly what you're going through. Let me know if you find another option, and what you decided to do. Be Blessed.


20 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac ICU, EMS, cath lab.

littlemissgator made some excellent points. I would also add, you may not be able to go straight into critical care after graduating. Most ICUs will not hire many new grads, and the ones they do typically worked in the department as a tech. You may have to work on a step down unit or med-surge for some time before being able to get into an ICU. I also agree with not going the LPN route. I work with quite a few LPNs at my hospital, though none of them work as LPNs, they are techs (start around $10-11/hr and do not push any meds). Go straight for your RN if you can. Good luck to you. I hope to one day be an anesthetist as well, one more pre req left for medic-RN bridge!


195 Posts

You need to figure another year into the SCC option. Once you finish your prerequesites, you have to apply in Feb or March for acceptance the next fall. You lose AT LEAST a spring and summer semester between prereqs and actually starting the nursing program. If you want to get early acceptance and to increase your chances of getting accepted, you need your prereqs finished by the previous summer semester so you can apply during the fall early admission period. Basically, you should figure a year between prereqs and actually starting the program.


195 Posts

As far as age, there are many nursing jobs that can be done regardless of age. NICU patients are not going to break your back. Telephone triage nurses don't need good eyesight. Office nurses don't get paid as much, but don't have the stress level of hospital nurses. Not all nurses work in low light.

On my unit, there are nurses who are close to retirement, still working their three 12 hour shifts without any problem.

This topic is now closed to further replies.