51 Year Old Experienced Nurse - Am I too old to obtain my BSN?


  • Career Columnist / Author
    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I am a 51 year old nurse with most of my experience at a large level trauma 1 in med-surg telemetry. I am thinking about returning to school this year to obtain my BSN. I am concerned about the cost of the BSN programs and wonder if its a good idea at my age. I was also wondering if travel nursing would be a good idea. My sons are almost grown and will be out of the house in a couple of years and I am a single mother and do not own my home. any thoughts would be appreciated.

Dear 51 year old,

51 is not too old, and I would definitely do it.

Getting your BSN is a safety net for the last years of your career. Without a BSN, your career options are limited and you may have a hard time transitioning away from the bedside when you decide you no longer want the physical demands of a clinical bedside nurse.

My thoughts on travel nursing are that it only pays well for nurses lower on the pay scale, such as newer nurses. It's good for some people at the right time of their life, but you will spend a lot of time with the "busyness" of moving, signing contracts, taking orientation over and over, turning PGE on and off, etc. That same energy could go towards getting your degree which will sustain you in the long run.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth


Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

If your kids are still at home for a couple of years, this is a great time to get your BSN! Go for it! You have a decade or more left to work, and a BSN will improve your job outlook and increase career opportunities.

As far as travel nursing -- if you want to do it to make gobs of money, perhaps not at this stage in your career as Beth suggests. But if you want to do it to travel and experience different climates, cultures (and you'd be surprised at home much difference there is in culture from one area of the US to another!), foods and activities, go for it! If you want to travel because you think you might want to live in Seattle or Boston and want to test the waters first, go for it. If you want to travel because you want to see how nursing practice differs across the country, go for it. If you want to travel to meet new people and make new friends, go for it. Challenging yourself keeps you younger and helps prevent against Alzheimer's. Go for it!


1 Post

Thanks for your wonderful advice. I am starting college in the fall to obtain my BSN and have now accepted a job in Case Management at the hospital I work at. So far I am really enjoying it and I am looking forward to going back to school. My kids are really proud of me and are very encouraging.

Thanks again!

51 year old


15 Posts

Absolutely not! Most can be done online and some at your own pace!

feelix, RN

340 Posts

There you go. Getting a higher degree will also open avenues into becoming an educator. The secret is in keeping reinventing yourself.


2 Posts

It is never too late to start. Remember not to take out student loans for the education. Just go so and easy. I was in my 60's before I received my MSN and it has opened many doors for me after retirement. Education is always good and in my area, none of the larger institutions will even look at or call for an interview, the application for a nurse without her BSN, not just a BS.