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Will my age keep me from a good nursing career?

I am in my early 50's. I am in classes now and worried that being in my 50's as a nurse will keep me from getting a good nursing job. I guess that "officially" hospitals and employers can't discriminate based on age. But what will REALLY happen? 2nd question - where are all of the nursing employees that are in their 50's and 60's? Are they in a different medical line of work? I don't see them in the hospitals when I visit there occasionally. Thanks in advance.

Edited by Elizabeth 123

I started out later in life and actually had employers question my age even though we all know that age discrimination is supposed to be against the law. When an older person comes to the interview there are expectations of experience. When you don't meet those expectations, there is visible disappointment. One way to counter this is to work as a CNA before getting the nursing license so that you can assure the prospective employer that you will have no problem with the physical demands of the job.

Re: yes it can

I recently was so boldly discriminated upon that I walked out of the so-called interview in shock. I too am in my early fifties and I graduated last year and have yet to find full-time employment. I am being true to myself and seeking employment in homecare. It was in that arena in which I had the interview in which I was discriminated upon because of my age. To make a long story short, she told me that younger and college educated people are more adept to using the computer (overlooking the fact that I have clearly stated on my resume that I have a bachelors degree in biology), she asked me personal questions about my brother whom I had mentioned as a means to enhance my experience in homecare, and much more. While I will not give up so easily, I feel some regret at times of having done this schooling only to be bogged down with loans that I cannot now pay.:mad:


Specializes in Tele, ICU, ED, Nurse Instructor,.

I graduated in May 2006. There was a student in my class and she was about 52 at the time. Guess what she is doing great and working hard like any other nurse. Age is only a number. Sometime employer should want wisdom and mature adults.

Thank you, ikwashington. I too came across a couple of nurses while I was in nursing school whom began their nursing careers in their early fifties. So, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Bit I don't think most peoplesee things that way. But, like I stated earlier, I am not giving up so easily if at all. Thanks again.


Specializes in Tele, ICU, ED, Nurse Instructor,.

You are welcome anniee.

I got my nursing degree at the age of 45. I was already working as a pharmacy tech in a hospital and the transition was easier for me I think because I had been there so long. I would suggest that as a new nurse, do everything you can to add value to your degree, with advanced degrees or work towards certification in diabetes education or whatever your passion is. Once you get your foot in the door with someone, you can create a wonderful record that will outshine whatever your age is. Here in our part of the south we value good nurses, no matter what their age. Don't let a bad apple discourage you. The right thing is out there if you keep a positive attitude. I am thinking that those folks that don't appreciate you now would not be so great to work for, anyway. You may not be able to start out with the job that you desire, but eventually you will get there if you keep plugging away. Any job you get now will only increase your skills and marketablity. Good luck!

I don't believe age will keep you from a wonderful career. I graduated from an ADN program in 2008 at 52. When you interview, emphasize you strengths, especially life experience. I was able to get an extern position while I was in school in the postpartum unit. I believe they hired me because I had children, had been through the birth process and could offer something to the patients that a 22 year old single woman with no childbirth experience could not. When I graduated I knew I wanted to work in pediatrics. Again, I emphasized my experience, raising children and working with children in my former job. I was hired as a new grad onto the pediatric floor and it was because of my age and experience.

Most nurse managers are our age and so we immediately have a connection. Look your best on the interview, dress professionally (not scrubs) and don't be shy about talking about the wealth of life experience you bring to the job. As nurses we are teachers, counselors, advocates and caregivers. Almost anyone can learn the skills but not everyone can bring the compassion and care that we experienced older women can. The age of the average patient is getting older as we baby boomers age. Many people our age who are patients are happy to have a nurse who is in the same age group. There are lots of advantages to being older in nursing.

Good luck!


Specializes in Primary Care.

I am a firm believer that anyone can be whatever they want to be. I do not think age has anything to do with it. You will face people who think you can not do the work oh well they will be all right. And you will have some people who will greet you with open arms. They will be all right But happiness comes from doing what you want to do and what God has chosen you to do. There is a job out there for you. You just have to keep looking. Good Luck and God Bless You.

Unfortunately age discrimination is out there. I have nursing for 37 years , the last 6 have been as a traveler. There is a lot of good advice already listed. As stated emphasize your life experience that would make you a good candidate- one interview for a travel position wasn't going well , they wanted a "degree" nurse (I'm a diploma ) , I really wanted to go there so I told them I did have a degree--a degree in life experience--got the position. Hang in there , there are all different kinds of nursing and I'm sure you will find a "fit" that is right for you:)

I would NOT allow my age to be a hindrance to starting another career...I did a mid-life career change at 48 years old by getting a Masters Degree in Library Science (as well as another marriage). You just have to decide to do it and JUST DO IT (sorry Nike!). The ONLY major problem you might have is moving to another area for work or not. I applied for 85 different jobs and got ONE interview and did NOT get that job (divine intervention/predestination...shall we say:D)! I did consulting work in Records/Archivy for a year, 2.5 years in the Public Library, and now am coming up on my 1-year anniversary in the Academic world. I could have had a slew of other jobs but could not move (older parents and I'm an OC - only child).

Be aware of your situation but go for it...nonetheless!

I currently hold the "oldest graduate" record for my local community college program. I started working for a local area hospital immediately after completing my boards, and have had no problems with reception from coworkers, patients, or administration. The dominant factors in my reception and advancement is being a team player, move quickly & carefully, put care of patients and openness to coworkers in 1st place. I'm 62. I'm relief charge now on a telemetry floor.


Specializes in RN. Med/Surg.

I've been working two years as an LPN. I just graduated my ADN program last week at 56, and I'm reviewing prior to taking my NCLEX-RN exam. I've had several offers from the local hospitals for when I get my license. School's really tough, but I haven't seen any problems getting hired, yet. j


Specializes in onc, critical care.

Here is my advice- keep at it. I was 50 when I got my RN. Most pts and families (and some doctors) just assume I have been a nurse forever. ALso all the pre nursing life experiences I've had made me a much better nurse. I don't freak out at stuff like the young RNs and I don't get caught up in the drama and gossip the way we did when we were in our 20s.

My memory is a bit worse, but I have tricks to help me, and I do get tired at a 12hr shift, but I did that when I was a young mom with a baby and two jobs also. GOOD LUCK

You might want to read a book that out there before starting your nursing career. It's called "Where have all the nurses gone?" It gives you the view of the nurse, DON, Administration and was written by a nurse. What it says about nursing is basically that you can't handle the floor as you get up in age. By then most nurses are in a specialty. I worked my last five years in Cardiac Rehab and it was a breeze compared to the floors. If I was starting out as an older nurse I would find a unit that wasn't hard or work in a physicians office or clinic. The floors are tough on the aging.

ariansas do you think that in some cases having already been on the floor for 20 or 30 years might be a factor rather than the raw age itself?

I am in my early 50's. I am in classes now and worried that being in my 50's as a nurse will keep me from getting a good nursing job. I guess that "officially" hospitals and employers can't discriminate based on age. But what will REALLY happen? 2nd question - where are all of the nursing employees that are in their 50's and 60's? Are they in a different medical line of work? I don't see them in the hospitals when I visit there occasionally. Thanks in advance.

Hi. I don't want to discourage you, but everyone that failed in my OB class last term were all older students. I thought many of the older students were smart, but it was interesting that a young cheerleader instructor decided to single out us babyboomers. She failed me in the clinical, even though my written grades were A's and B's. Older students seemed to be singled out. Scary, all that hard work.

Actually, my only negative experience in OB was that one of the Dad's-to-be said he didn't want any other men in there, so I was excluded from watching the birth. He came out of the procedure apologizing - because he realized that between the OB, the nurses, and the techs, there were only two women in the room, and one was his wife! I told him not to worry about it. You can get an instructor with an attitude in any term/area - or not. We had one who didn't like men in nursing. We made it past her, too.


Read your email re: where do older nurses go?...I am an older nurse- I'm 60. I am currently working in a Long Term Acute Care facility. Many of my co-workers are also older. Long term Acute care is a interesting sub-specialty- It's designed for pts who require acute level of care but have used up their acute hospital days. So think a cross between ICU and extended care. The average lenght of stay is 25 days. Pts are treated with long term IVAB's for drug resistant infections. They also are frequently treated for someother condition along with Renal Failure or are Ventilator dependant. The pace is not quite so frantic, and the patients still need a high level of care. I worked in ICU for many years, and I also have worked in home care- I would not recommend that for a new grad- You need a little acute care experience, first...But, home care is a good fit for the more mature nurse...with a little experience. I hope that this a little help, there are other options for the older nurses- Dr offices, clinics, school nursing, that sort of thing...The cool thing abt nursing is that there is lots of options...Best of Luck in your career!!

Excellent question. I was in your shoes not too long ago & was surprised at the age discrimination I encountered. I turned one of those around by requesting recommendations on positions I should interview for as a mature new nurse. Because there were no openings at this hospital, I interviewed at a different hospital & got hired in their maternity area.

This does not happen to everyone as I know of a nurse who was hired immediately. She believes that in her case, the fact that the interviewer graduated from the same nursing school had a lot to do with her getting hired.

Where are the nurse's that are in their 50's? While not necessarily in the majority, I see directors, managers & also staff nurses that age.

Persistence is critical for success. But understand, that in the meantime, there are now many new grads & many more coming out of nsg schools who are & will be competing for much fewer internship slots. There are many who remain without internships & I also personally know of some. One of them is asking himself if age has worked against him as he is in his late 40's & he chose nsg as his second career. Also a factor to keep in mind.

I wish you success!


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