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Managing Your Career
The Perks of Nursing as a Second Career
Yes, you’ve got what it takes!

What would prompt a 45-year-old mother of teenagers to pursue a career in nursing?

Delusional thinking, some might say. At times I thought I was mad. How could I keep up with those tireless, technology-savvy twenty-somethings? Still I couldn’t ignore my inner rumbling. I wanted to do something significant with my life.

When I was younger, nursing was my dream. But I wasn’t the student I needed to be to make that a reality. Instead, I got a degree in social work. But like many women my age, I got married, had my first child, and traded in my dry-clean-only wardrobe for playdate attire.

The children grew up. At about 40, I started thinking about nursing again. Since I wasn’t getting any younger, I realized if I wanted to do it, I had to do it now. Five years later, I’m ready to take my State Board Exam and work at a rehabilitation hospital in the brain injury unit.

Being a second career nurse isn’t easy—and it probably never will be. I often feel like I’m 13 steps behind the young new nurses. Nursing is physical, and with a body that’s already slowing down, the eight- and twelve-hour shifts are draining.

I also find myself worrying about adjusting to the technology—which younger students are proficient at. Once you get used to one pump, it’s gone and the next one comes in. I’ve spoken with other second-career nurses, and all share that feeling of not being able to keep up.

But through the discouragement, I’ve learned what second career nurses have to offer.

Your Unique Experience
Second career nurses bring to the nursing profession something younger nurses don’t have: life experience. My fellow students—most who were about 20 years younger than I—often said to me, “You’re just so comfortable and confident.” They mentioned how nervous they felt when talking to a patient. I’ve never really stressed about that. I chalk that up to my background in social work and because I’ve had my own children and been through lots of family health situations. I bring more empathy and knowledge to the nursing environment.

I also think I’ve gained confidence as I’ve gotten older; I am not afraid to say to myself, I am still smart. I can still do it…and I’m going to do it. Seasoned nurses might snidely question the way I do things, but I don’t take it personally. Instead, I deal with it. I’ve encountered enough catty people in my life—from my previous work as a social worker to the PTO--to know that usually these people have insecurities of their own.

As a second career nurse, I’m also sure of my priorities. Often, hospitals want younger students who want to climb the corporate ladder—and, hence, are willing to take the tough shifts. At this stage in my life, accelerating in my career isn’t my first priority; my family is. So, I’ve chosen to be pickier about my shifts.

I encourage others to pursue a nursing career, even if you feel over-the-hill. Health care professionals are hugely in demand, and good, caring ones are going to be the difference in solving the problems we face. Each of us has something different to offer—whatever our life stage—and working together we can make a difference.

Read more Managing Your Career articles

73 Responses to “The Perks of Nursing as a Second Career”

  1. JayinAussie Says:

    I relate totally to this story- I am 44 and am 6 months away from completing my nursing. I’ve been working on the wards for 6months now and have had the much younger new grads continually tell me they envy my ability to communicate with patients, Doctors and not to stress out over situations – I know this is just a result of life experiences and confidence of age…. I envy them the fact they have 20 yrs on me to really have a longer career. I’ve worked in the health industry for over ten years in an administrative role so have the experience of knowing how things work…. it all helps. I guess the greatest thing about doing nursing in your 40’s, is that life has taught you some humanity and compassion which you can bring into nursing… which isn’t to say younger nurses don’t – it’s more that you understand the context of various phases of life, the stages…. which 20yr olds are yet to grasp. I get on great with the younger nurses and love being a ‘student’ with them…. I also have copped some incredulous attitude of older lifetime nurses who think I’m MAD for taking up nursing…. but I am so grateful to have this new lease on life.

  2. April Says:

    Thank you for your interesting story. I can identify with most of what you have written, as I am of a similar age and about to sit my nursing aptitude exaination tomorrow. I am glad to read that you too, shared many of my concerns and that you overcame them and now enjoy your career.

  3. Jessica Says:

    Thank you all. I’m in my late 40’s and decided to take the leap into nursing. So far it’s been a great learning experience, but I know from clinicals how physically demanding it is. Does anyone have any tips for dealing with the physical strain–swollen legs and feet, and just plain deep fatigue that comes with the territory?

  4. Mr Ian Says:

    I’ve been nursing only (only?) 17 years – including training. In the last 3-5 years I feel I’m starting to understand it at a level beyond textbooks even tho I’ve always been, and been regarded as, an analytical thinker.
    The only benefit I think I may have in having time-served experience is seeing the old practices, slightly amended, re-titled, making a come back. Apparently, (according to Mother Jones or MyOwnWoman – or both, I forget) a life-time nursing career will probably see the same philosophy/model/issue revisited and revamped 3 or 4 times, invariably coming back to the original idea.
    Having the savvy to know family is important- or working to live – and picking your shifts is better than being blinded by career and – living for work.
    Good luck to you all. Wear comfy shoes.

  5. Julie Says:

    I’m 26 and I have decided to go back to school to be a nurse. I read somewhere that the average age of a nursing school graduate is 30 (not 23 or 24 like most degrees). I am married, but I don’t have any kids yet and after hearing stories of single parents or women who are pregnant or people with 4 kids going through school I figure I can do it. I just can’t see myself sitting at a desk for the rest of my life. So thank you to those who have families and get through nursing school for giving me the courage to go for it too – Cheers to you!

  6. Kay Says:

    How about a 52 year old grandmother who is 6 months away from graduating with a BSN? I think this is my third career, but one thing that life has taught me is that life is what you make it, and life is full of choices. Yes, it is tough to be at this age and going through the rigors of nursing school and beginning a new career, and dealing with some pretty “shoddy” attitudes of some, but the opportunity to support myself with something other than minimum wage jobs and a chance to make a difference in someone’s life is well worth some of the uncomfortable issues I have encountered.

  7. Gigi Says:

    Kay we are kindred spirits. I am 44 and a LPN bridging to RN. I have been a LPN for five years, so I am a relatively new nurse for my age. Opinions and support vary greatly. So we’ve got to make it personal. I wan’t my grave marker to say more than, “she survived.” And its kind of sexist too, most all of the great scientists made thier greatest contributions in thier 60’s and beyond. Sending love your way, your fellow nurse in the trenches, Gigi PS. I am a grandma too!lol

  8. Winnie Says:

    I am 24 with a business degree and decided to go back to school to do nursing!! Thank god I decided to do this before “life got in the way”… I am lucky in that I realized before I went further down the wrong path!

  9. Disappearingjohn Says:

    An excellent post; one that mirrors a lot of my thoughts.

    Nursing school can teach so much, just not common sense. Only life seems to teach that.

  10. Monni J. Reed Says:

    I’m working on my Masters in Nursing Education. I’m trying to find out how many RN’s were beauticians before becoming a nurse. I’ve known a lot of them in my career and want to do a research project on areas that future adult RN students can be recruited from.

  11. Jennifer Tran Says:

    Thank-you for writing. I am a 45-yr old new nursing grad with an Associates degree. I am currently looking for a job with very mixed feelings_ Am I too old?… But in America we are told to follow our dreams… I was married for 20 yrs taking care of my family doing odd jobs off and on- try putting that on a resume!

  12. Cathy Mac Says:

    Wonderful article! I am a 43-year-old new grad LPN and I plan to bridge to RN in the next couple years. It is so good to see so many with a similar experience – love and best wishes to each of you. The world really does need women’s wisdom and I see evidence of this need, and examples of our value to the world, every day. If I find I have the stamina, I may well go on to become an NP.

  13. Chanelle Says:

    This article is sooooo inspirational. To become a registered nurse and ultimately, a neonatal nurse practitioner, has always been a desire and dream of mine since I was the tender age of 2. I have found it so very difficult to get into a nursing program or nursing school here where I reside (in Tennessee). I currently hold a bachelor of science degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry, and career certificates in both medical and nursing assisting, respectively. I also have a wealth of knowledge in other areas of medicine, as well, but none of this has helped me to get into nursing school or a nursing program. Each time I get close, but yet, still so very far away. Reading you guys responses has given me hope to not give up on pursuing my dream of becoming a nurse, even though I am now 41.

  14. KarenSue Says:

    I began nursing school when I was 47. I just graduated in May at the age of 50. I find my rapport with patients is easy for me. Caring about their pain and really listening is natural for me. Skills can be taught. There is no school for life experience except the wisdom of years. We bring a lot to the nursing profession as mature women. It is NEVER too late!

  15. Janet Says:

    This is my second career too. I went to nursing school when I was 32 and got an ADN. I’ve applied into a BSN program for next year. I would like to go to grad school later on too. I have a friend who’s mom went to med school at age 50, so it’s never too late to find a new career!

  16. Lisa Asbell, RN Says:

    I am 42 and have been a nurse since I was 30. However, I now want to get a MSN in Midwifery… Who knows? Why not. Live your dream! This is America. The GREATEST country in the WORLD! You can do anything you put your mind too!

  17. Judie Says:

    It’s nice to see that I’m not the only older person going back to school. Leaving a full-time job to go back to school was un-nerving. Now that I’ve made it through the first quarter (with a B) has given me much more confidence. I waited until my son was old enough to take care of himself so that I can devote the time for studies. One thing that I noticed as an older student is the lack of peer pressure. My priorities and sacrifices are much different than the younger students. And yes, they do admire my confidence and relaxed attitude towards patients and doctors. The wisdom helps to handle the stress. By the way, I’m 45.

  18. olga Says:

    Thanks for all the comments, I’m 52 and considering finishing up a nursing degree!
    Better late than never!

  19. Peggy Says:

    I am 51 and into my 3rd semester of prereq’s for a BSN program. I have a previous degree but was never satisfied with the jobs I was offered. I wanted to do more. I know what you all mean by having the experience of life that makes us better communicators with patients. And at my age, I’m comfortable in my own life enough that I don’t sweat the small stuff. Like someone said…the skills can be learned. The attitude and comfort zone is acquired with time.

  20. Laura Says:

    Ditto, it’s never too late! I am 52 and a junior in a BSN program. Prior to my nursing program, I practiced law for 24 years. Always wanted a career in health care and nursing, with its holistic approach was a natural fit for me. I learn from my instructors and from my younger student colleagues. Age is what you make it: don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are too old (it’s illegal, btw..)

  21. Lynn Wages Says:

    I am so here, i’m waiting to start an RN program- i’ll be 51 when(if) i get in next year. The pre-req classes have been great, A & P after 30 years out of college and i kicked it! I think our years of life experience are invaluable, like a previous post said, skills can be taught, the rest comes with age.

  22. Brent Says:

    I am a paramedic now. I was an RN with a crit care cert first.

    I like nursing now as a second job/career with the maturity I have now and the insight I so sorely see lacking. more importantly those that seem to give me the respect I so often missed when perceived as younger.

  23. Brent Says:

    Oh and I’m 40!

  24. Jo Connolly Says:

    I became an LPN at age 40 and promised myself that if I did return to school I wanted to finish before I turned 60! Well, in April I will be 59 and granduate from my RN program. It hasn’t always been an easy road but well worth the trip.

  25. Shelly Says:

    I just turned 32 and I was really afraid to go back to school, but seeing all of these posts makes me feel like I still have time to do it. I am going to school now to become a Paramedic and am planning on eventually transitioning over to an RN. Thank you all so much for your posts encouragement!

  26. Anne Says:

    I am 48 and just finished my RN and will be starting a nursing job next month. I want to do hospice nursing eventually. I can’t imagine doing that in my twenties. I think the physical part of nursing is harder, but the critical thinking part of nursing is easier at my age because of life experiences. A big round of applause for all of us out there who dare to care even with gray in our hair!!!!

  27. Mary Says:

    I am 35 and after years of working in the hospitality industry as a Bar Manager, I have decided to do the Bachelor of Nursing. I have some pre health study courses to do first, to be eligible. I am nervous about going back to study at my age but the previous comments have all been helpful in putting my mind at ease. I didn’t like the thought of being stuck in a class full of 18 year olds, but now realise that age can be an asset. I need a challenge so am going for it!!! Yay me!!!!

  28. MarineToRN Says:

    I was 47 when I graduated Nursing school. It was tough getting the brain kickstarted after a 25 year hiatus from school, but I know it’s one of the smartest things I’ve done. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at this point in my life. It was a heck of a transition going from the Marine Corps into Nursing. I’m still a little rough around the edges, but my fellow Nurses accept me for who I am (or, if truth be known, they just put up with me because I bring a lot of upper body strength to the show :)) but I swear I love what I’m doing and I hope it shows. One of the greatest things I’ve brought with me from my first career is the ability to work long hard hours for days on end. Lord knows that’s one thing the two careers have in common. I encourage everyone (including my three sons) to consider Nursing as a career. You just can’t beat it.

  29. Joan Says:

    This is terrific that I have found this site and all your comments. I am 45 and doing research now to help decide to go into nursing – the biggest issue being, am I too old? Thank you for all the positive posts. I’ve wanted to go into nursing/medical field for several years now, the desire is just getting stronger and I want a career that is more fulfilling. Although it’s difficult to give up a job at a university that will pay for my kid’s college tuition, my current salary is not the greatest. I have a son two years from college and three more on the way, however my need to serve and feel fulfilled is taking over in this case. Hence, I’m reviewing a local college with the two year nursing program and researching the web as well. Any advice is welcomed!

  30. Lisa B Says:

    Thanks for all the posts. I am 43 and have been taking lots of the medical prereqs at my local Community College. I have done transcription for years and really got into it for the flexible schedule. Now that my kids are teenagers I am going to need more, and more money. I keep wondering if nursing would be for me if I am too old. Maybe not.

  31. Mary C Says:

    Thank you for the great article, Sue and all the wonderful posts. This all certainly gives this 42-year-old healthcare marketer some inspiration to finish up my research into a second degree BSN program and get moving! Best to you all.

  32. Covet Says:

    After years of working as a C.N.A. I became an L.P.N. at the age of 46. As an L.P.N I work full time for the goverment in the geriatric unit. Am 48 now working towards my R.N. Those pre-reqs arent easy. I just wonder why i have to take them. Hopefully i would be done by 50 GOD willing. Is nice to know that i am not the only older nurse still going to school. I salute all of those wonderful nurses who dare and have the corage to pursue their dreams in spite of many obstacles. It has been proved in this post that age is not one of them.

  33. Pat Says:

    So thankful to find all of your posts. I’m a 48 year old mother of two teenages who has always worked in an office setting. I’m ready to apply to a LPN Program and terrified!! To old, out of college for 100 years, etc., I must be crazy, right??

    It is so wonderful to hear encoraging and honest advice from people who have been down this road.

    Wishing you all, the best life has to offer.

  34. Terry Says:

    I am 51 and just got accepted in the nursing program. I am scared but thrilled at the same time. It is nice to see there is so many older adults that have the same idea as me and that they don’t think it is too late

  35. Pat Says:

    I just turned 50 and am in the my first year of nursing school. Taking A/P two summers ago was so refreshing. It’s great to learn. Clinicals have been tough — not the work so much as the nurses’ mentality, which I’ve learned is referred to as “eating their young.” Although I initially came in feeling pretty positive, the nastiness of these women is really getting me down. Any advice? I hate to work so hard to get into a toxic work setting.

  36. Suzie Says:

    I am 51 and was so excited about nursing school. I smoked A and P and Microbiology and thought I was doing great. A year ago I fell short of passing PN1 (I was like 3 points short of the required 80%). It was rigorous but I did well in clinicals and everything else. Every time the new semester rolls around I agonize as to whether to sign on again. This is were I am yet AGAIN.
    I feel like I lost all my confidence and am not sure I was to put my all back into something. I realize this is not the ‘can do’ attitude that is required but I am terrified of putting all the time in again and not passing. It is awful yet I can’t seem to let it go.
    Oh and the other roadblock. I can’t hear out of a stethischope. Yes I had my hearing checked and it is fine. It is very strange. I bought a very expensive amplified one and can hear ok but have trouble with BP’s. Sorry I sound kinda whiney!! but thanks for listening.

  37. Savvy Says:

    I will be 64 in a few weeks. I finished nursing school ten years ago. It is never too late to learn ANYTHING you are determined to learn. It might be a little harder, partly because of responsibilities, but it is possible if the desire is there.

    I don’t know why nursing faculty has so many dragons! “To weed out the unfit” they will say, but it also drives out the fit who need a little hand because they aren’t good STUDENTS, not because they won’t be good NURSES. Not everyone does well in a classroom environment.

    Some of them will tell you it’s because this is the way it was when they went through nursing school – I’ve had them say that to me. Well, what about ‘Let it begin with me’? We used to wear animal pelts too!

    Something which I regard as a problem is that a lot of nursing professors haven’t worked on the floors in a very, very long time, and have no recent experience of a working nurse’s real working life. Walking through the halls with a gaggle of students doesn’t make it. Being very knowledgeable about the science of nursing and theories of nursing and being skilled at imparting them to students is very important, but it isn’t necessary to be brutal doing it. In fact. most employers, and I should think this includes universities and community colleges, have Zero Tolerance policies for disruptive and abusive behavior.

    I went through an evening program. Most of the faculty were or had recently been, working nurses – they were the most junior, and didn’t get the plum day positions, and I think that was to our benefit. They also tended to be younger (30s and 40s, rather than 60s and 70s) than the professors in the day program, and they were ‘nicer’ They were not ‘easier’ on the students, they just weren’t mean and nasty. The reason I bring this up is that it may be possible that someone who is struggling in the day program may find that that do better in the evening program, if their school has one. We had several students transfer in when openings became available (the evening program was limited to twenty students) and they used to comment on how much more humane the evening program was! I think that’s is tragic – school should be rigorous, but humane, days or eveings!


  38. Christine Says:

    Great post. I loved what you said about picking your shifts to fit your family life. I am starting to look into nursing school. I am at home with my kids and planned on going back to teaching when they are old enough to go to school. If I go to nursing school I would be starting a nursing job when they are in school full time. I would certainly want to pick my shifts that are better for my family. I am already 38, so I don’t need to climb that corporate ladder. I am so thrilled to see so many people over 40 going into the field.

  39. Ella Says:

    I’m 48, just finished a fast-track BSN program this fall and my first 12 week orientation on the job in ICU. Don’t anyone think they’re too old to do this work–just be better prepared than I was for the unexpected things that come with being older!

    As an “older” new nurse, I have a whole career and personal life set of skills and experience that I am very proud of. You know that thing that happens around 40 where you start to REALLY feel good about yourself? It gives you confidence and a sense that you can manage the unexpected that gets you ahead of the game from day one. Like the author of this article above states, I do things differently, my own way, and sometimes that makes other nurses a bit judgmental. But who cares?

    I just read an article at that discussed the generational differences new nurses can encounter when they start their career. The oldest generation nurses are getting ready to retire, and have a value system that made them “workhorses” who valued discipline and task completion. Nurses that come from the Baby Boomer Generation will not be nurturing, and expect you to work your way up status-wise in the hierarchy, so get over it. Nurses from Gen X like to work independently, want a set of tasks and when they’re due then leave them alone. Younger nurses love technology and might need to hear their doing well more often than older nurses.

    The thought struck me that when you’re a middle-age career changer, you might actually have a “younger” way of thinking, doing and seeing the world than a nurse your same age who has been in the field her whole career. That could mean a source of conflict with your preceptor or peers. But it also makes you fresher, with a better sense of balance and perspective than older career nurses. I certainly feel that way–I’m not afraid to tell it like it is, for instance, but I don’t feel compelled to be blunt and hurtful like so many of the older nurses I work with seem to think is the way to be.
    I think that together with the new gen’s we mid career nurses are poised to take strong leadership roles that will make positive changes in the nursing field for generations to come.

  40. Wendy Says:

    Yeah for the encouraging stories!
    Makes me realize I am not nuts for considering pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. Of course I will be 52 when I get done but hey that gives me at least 20 yrs to work in this field.
    Like others my age I feel like age has brought enough surprises and experiances to make me comfortable with myself and others. And old enough to not be concerned if someone thinks my questions are stupid. After all it will be the pt. safety/ comfort and my job on the line.

  41. nurse_wannabe Says:

    Thankyou so much for this post and all the comments.
    I am a 36 year old recently separated single mum who has FINALLY found the courage to follow my dream. In less than two weeks I sit my Special Tertiary Admissions Test and hopefully start my degree in the new year. Reading what everyone has had to say is so encouraging! THANKYOU!

  42. brenda Says:

    thank you so much for all the comments
    I’m 49 yrs old first time grandma trying to get into the Nursing Program at my local college. My family are into Nursing two sisters are BSN/LBN two of my brothers are CNA so it a natural choice for me.

    I lost my job it was outsource to India, so here I’m middle age looking for a job with no success, so I decided to GO FOR IT… and Be a Nurse

  43. Jan Says:

    I cannot believe I am sitting here contemplating a 2nd or maybe it’s a 3rd career in nursing at 45 years old. Started out teaching, got a Master in Education, fell into a professional writing career, for the past few years, took an A&P course last year (loved it), got a certification in Polysomnography last year (can’t really find a job in that field so far)… now contemplating NURSING. Am I CRAZY??? Never married, no children… maybe I have too much time on my hands. Could that be it???

  44. Tom Moore Says:

    Great comments. Working on my second career at age 45. Retired from the military as an Independant Medic. Loved clinical medicine and could not throw away all the knowledge gained. I need a degree to work in the “civilian sector” which did not come with my military job, so I decided on nursing. I thoght four years of school to do what I did for over twenty in the service? It’s good to see I am not the only one out there looking for that next stepping stone in this stage of life. Love medicine, can’t wait to get my BSN to serve others in need again.

  45. Beth Says:

    It is so fantastic that all these wonderful people are going into nursing at their prime! I just became a LPN last year at 44 years old. Sometimes I run into young hot-shot RNs who try to belittle me, but I know I bring great qualities that these young nurses have to learn. The technical stuff (computers, etc) and paperwork are minor things to learn. I am very proud to be among you second-career nurses! Go out there and give em hell!

  46. lyuda Says:

    Hi all , you are all inspiration for everyone.
    I decide to stat a new chapter in m life. I already changed my carrier twice but medicine was my dream since i was a little girl. Now i am in my late 40 and i feel this is a time for a change.
    I want to become a nurse but not sure where to start. Should I do CNA or go strait to RN or what? Is it anyone can give me an advice on this subject, please

  47. Dira Says:

    I’ve read all of ur comments and find it very helpfully and uplifting!!! I am 26 and just got really interested in becoming a nurse! All of you guys wisdom on the subject gives me more confidence than I can could ever have on my own!!! Thanks!!!

  48. Martha Says:

    Hi I am 55 and will hopefully be accepted into a nursing program in the fall. Why am I the oldest one here? Are there any more people of my age out there? Most of you are in your 40 s with a few at 52. I’m still older. I’m with you about the life experience.

  49. farley Says:

    I’m 55 and I just graduated from an ADN program. It was hard for everyone, not just me. I don’t see any advantage that the younger students had in the classroom or clinicals. I was inducted into the honor society and scored way above average on the standardized tests. I am a little worried that I will be descriminated against when applying for jobs but we’ll see!

  50. Dylan G Says:

    I am a current student in a direct entry master’s program. It is a very competitive program offered at large California university. In addition I applied, and was accepted to, other direct entry nursing programs in California, where I live, and so have very recent knowledge of the admission process, pre-requisite requirements, and essay writing techniques that are required. When I was applying I did not have a resource like this. I did not have all the information I needed in one place that I could use to plan and organize my strategy for becoming a nurse. So thanks so much for providing this resource for aspiring second career nurses! I also have a blog I just started on this subject. Would love to see more posts. My blog is located at
    Until the next post, take care.


  51. angie Says:

    I’m 39 an was truely sterresing about making a career change at my age, into nursing. These comments are inspiring an gave me a whole new perspecive……thanks an bless all of you!

  52. bonnie Says:

    I am 49 and will be in lpn clinicals jan 2012. i someitmes wonder if im too old and wont be able to keep up, but i feel good and i have alot of energy and we older gals have soo much to offer.

  53. Dana Says:

    Okay here is my challenge. I graduated in 2003 with an ADN, did not sit for the NCLEX due to family issues. I had to take two jobs to pay off bills and worked years as a CNA. When I was laid off of my main job as a product specialist, I went back to school but it was too late to apply to nursing programs, so I went to health care administration and graduated in May of 2011. Well the BSHA degree you need to acquire additional certifications and that adds up to additional monies. My heart keeps going back to my original plan Nursing.

    The other fact is that I am 58, but I don’t think age is a criteria for me. My question is reality, is it feasible and attainable, my answer is yes, what are your thoughts?

  54. Donna Says:

    I am 52 and for the last 25 years I worked as a Personal Trainer/ Sports Massage therapist & lic esthetician. I am at the time in my life where I am able to go back to school and not have to worry about a family or any distractions. I attended Jr college 35 yrs ago! talk about scary!
    Im not a stranger to the classroom environment since I have to take plenty of continuing education courses to keep my lic and certs current. I have always wanted to be a nurse! I even worked as a unit secretary back in the day and also worked as a back office nurse for a podiatrist as a clinic assistant giving injections and patient care etc….

    I am about to make an appt to see a counselor next month to get the proper direction to start my path to a nursing carreer as an RN!!!!

    I love anatomy and anything that has to do with the human body, I just hope to God I am cut out for school…nothing ever came easy to me and I am not afraid of working hard! I want to get good grades!!!! and advice?????

  55. Chris Says:

    Herein lies the problem of why I, as a 37 year old nurse, have moved out of the bedside and obtained my MSN. It is important to note before I start my rant that I have spent 20 years in the healthcare profession. Of that 20 years, I have received recognition for excellent patient care many times and worked my way up from the bottom pits. I joined the Army at 17 as a medic, and never left healthcare. I am currently an ICU nurse, and have been for 12 years.
    I can tell you first hand. Second career bitty nurses who don’t know squat, and feel they earned a right to be the boss because of where they are in their lives is why I moved away from the bedside. Picking up the slack for these baby boomers who step in during midlife crisis is not my cup of tea. Yes, nursing is a great career, and no I am not your personal lift slave. Remember ladies and gentleman, nursing is a very physically demanding job, and if you can’t pull your weight you need to leave. There are nursing jobs that do not carry these high physical demands, but I find that many nurses try to shoot for the money. I have also experienced some of these second career nurses doing the same. It is only an opinion, but the younger nurses groomed into these positions do a better job, and require less hand holding. All I am saying is don’t overstep you abilities. When you do, you place stress on the rest of your team. Pull your own weight, and don’t expect preferential treatment because you are older.

  56. Mary O Malley Says:

    Anybody out there who went into a BSN transfer program at age 55? Now is that pushing it? I was an RN a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away and most definitely need the three years. But,if I get accepted into a program I will be 58 when I’m done. Can I do it? Have any of you come across other students my age?

  57. Mary O Malley Says:

    And in response to the military nurse’s judgmental comment of bitty 2nd career nurses………….right there you have a perfect example of the dragons drawn to the profession. Women or men who decide to go into nursing as a second career, or like myself returning back to it, do not do so without much consideration. Indeed, I suspect most of them probably come to it for many more legitimate caring reasons than yourself…….who went on up your ladder, a place your personality type was clearly positioned anyway. I’ve worked around people like you. You are toxic. I am surprised you are in this profession at all. And ironically so many of you still prevail in these institutions. Lift equipment and dragon ladies like you are a lot easier come by than truly caring nurses who don’t runaway from their calling, or up the ladder, for reasons in my opinion that amount to nothing short of intoleranat and discriminative. A funny place to find such horrors……..the caring profession.

  58. Nancy Faria Says:

    I’m a 54 year old grandmother still in my prerequistes for an accelerated BSN program. I have a strong will to help people and have done so most of my life. I started as a CPA switch to Accounting Professor and then into the corporate world setting up joint ventures in 3rd world countries. But I became ill and had to leave it all, however, I always wanted a career in the health field. I would love to go for Nurse Practioner, but feel that I am too old. I should have chosen to go into nursing sooner. When I finally decided to go back to school it was because of a friend who said, “if not now, then when?” I am the oldest student, so far and by far, in all of the classes I have taken to date. But I enjoy being around the students and look forward to the day that I finally become a nurse!

  59. catherine thomas Says:

    I am 59,in my last qtr of an associate degree nursing program and have applied to enter a part-time RN-BSN program in the fall. Nursing will be a third career for me. I agree with so many comments I have seen here..and am inspired by so many too. It is never too late and we are never too old to make a change! So I say go for it… whatever it is you want.

  60. rondodondo Says:

    To all you 50 somethings I can truely tell you that you are out of your mind to get into this field esp. at this age. This work is so physically and mentally draining you must not have had a clue about what it’s really like to be an RN in a hospital. I started off at age 52 to get my nursing degree nd have been employed in the hosp since 2004. Not only is the pay lousy, I make 21.00/hr working full time, the demands of the job are ridiculous. I am the nurse, aide, dietary tray giver, unit secretary, charge nurse, and anything else that needs to be adressed during the day, and that includes the parking lot attendant. I made just a shade over 38K last year working in a brutal cardiac unit. Whats that you say you heard nurses made 65K/year. Please don’t believe everything you hear cuz it just ain’t true. Additionally I have about 50K in loans when I graduated and it has decimated my retirement.I now see myself running the floor at age 65 rather than enjoying a retirement that I really deserve. Nursing schools would have you believe that nursing is all : unicorn’s and rainbows and lollipops and I can assure that it is none of that.For anyone that want to get into this god awful career and thinks that they “want to help people” volunteer at a soup kitchen, or take in some foster kids or go on a mission trip to Africa or South America where you can really do some good. Nursing is a thankless job with way too much responsibiltiy and NO POWER AT ALL to do what you need to do unless ordered by the Dr., plus you don’t make any money. There is nothing on the plus side of the equation for you to become a nurse, only aggravation, stress, and burn-out waiting for you at the end of the road….

  61. guitapeace Says:

    Hell, I’m 46 and can’t take much more of this demanding, demeaning, and disappointing so called career…If you’re in your late 50’s think twice…Your body isn’t as young as your mind would like it to be…Nursing School was a farce and a scam…..all they want is the student’s money and will tell you what a rewarding career this is—what they should be doing is on DAY ONE is putting students on the floor with a patient load and no LUNCH BREAKS…..enjoy

  62. Donna Says:

    It’s nice to hear the support! I am starting from scratch! I have taken my placement test and will start taking pre req’s this fall & I am 52. My ultimate goal is to work for a dermatologist. I have my esthetician Lic and will work as a medical esthetician. I have been a personal trainer/ sports massage therapist for over 25 yrs
    I am fit and in great health so I see no reason to not to pursue this career! It will be something I can do till they put me in the ground! I do not ever want to retire! Gotta keep moving and learning to stay alive!!!!!

  63. Christi Cole Says:

    I would not attempt to go into nursing as a older adult unless I was very passionate and knew for sure that it is something you want to do. Nursing is a very demanding and very physical job. Burn out is high and the reward is small. It really is a stressful, unappreciated field to go into. I have been a RN for 23yrs since I was 21 and I have often regretted going into this field and wish I had known more about the field before I got into it.

  64. LaToya Says:

    Hey Sue, thanks so much for this article and too all the ladies, you are so brave. I’m also a social worker (MSW) and its hard to obtain a job in this field and one that pays decent. I’ve been unemployed for 11 months and torn about which way to go. I love helping people but I don’t see any stability in Social Work for me. I’ve been unemployed on and off for the past nine years since getting my BSW. I want to stay in the helping field, so I’ve been thinking about nursing. I’ve heard stories of how difficult nursing school is and this frightens me. I didn’t do to well in my science classes in college and don’t know if I can cut it. Any advice???

  65. N. Marie Says:

    Great, great posts from all. I work in a very good profession (IT and Finance) but I applying to a Nursing program which begins this summer. I’m 45–and have a great interest in a new career–one to carry me into retirement. Soon my children will be off to college–I’m looking forward to something more than corporate projects. I want to work with the elderly eventually. Thank you all so much for giving readers your ages–it allows others to be encouraged!!!

  66. Leslie Says:

    Older nurses can bring comfort to older patients and in some cultures, they value older people, so from a multi-cultural standpoint, there is a place for older nurses in our healthcare system. Go for your dreams! Don’t give up. Our healthcare system needs to recognize that we all bring individual talents, experience and wisdom, no matter what our age. Just as there are a variety of patients, there are a variety of nurses needed to match those patient needs. Even a disabled, older nurse, would bring comfort to a disabled patient.

  67. rondodondo Says:

    Well, lets here from all you starry eyed 50+ that were “following your passion” and becoming a nurse. I’ll bet that any of you that went ahead and became nurses are singing a different tune now that you have been at it a while. A couple of quick questions: how is your back, and are you liking the stress? It’s different when you are actually out there working the floor rather than just talking about it………

  68. Kbelle Says:

    Rondodondo. We get it. You’re (still) bitter. Not everyone who goes into nursing wants to be a floor nurse. Sure, it’s physically demanding. And yes, there are days my 42 year old back hurts at the end of a 12 hour shift. But the same can be said of the 26 year olds I work with. Just because you hate your choices you choose to mock people for following their dreams. How about instead of biding your time waiting for others to fail you do something productive like switch careers and make room for a new grad who actually wants to be a nurse?

  69. Karin Says:

    Kbelle, Love,love,love your May 21st post! Totally agree with you…I wonder how she treats her patients.

  70. kalars38 Says:

    Well….I am a 52 year old accelerated BSN
    Student, hoping to start my second career. I am really sadden by some of the responses being posted by other nurses. I see where the phrase came from “they eat their own”. Let me tell you what stress is for me, not only missing lunches as a Nursing Home Administrator, but not being gable to step in and help the nurses that were under staffed, the resident, that was on the floor or hungry or coding. Or mandating a nurse to stay over another shift because the bitter 25 yr nurse called off. The real stress not being able to help and be completely part of the team.

  71. nursebuddy14 Says:

    i agree with KarenSue, it’s never too late to pursue your passion! older nurses got a lot more to offer through their many life experiences. im in my late 40’s and still wanted to experience being a u.s. rn. i still have to take my nclex later this year and hoping to land a good job for 10+ years!

  72. Suzanne Kwasniewski Says:

    Thank you for the encouragement, I have been thinking about applying again. I started an RN program a few years back (I have a bachelor’s degree and am a massage therapist) just after going through a hellish 8 years of ulcerative colitis and a total colectomy. I was less than 2 months post op and had been back in for complications and weighed 90 lbs. I got through the first semester and the first half of the 2nd semester and then the day before y last clinical in a med-surg class the teacher told me if everything wasn’t perfect she was going to fail me. I was a nervous wreck, and she failed me. Her class has a 60% attrition rate and she is PROUD of that. I should have withdrawn and stayed in the program and repeated the class but no one explained that option to me (and really, I should have paid better attention to the student handbook.) Being stubborn I looked at another nursing school, and they took me midstream, as I was getting along well academically I thought I would make it but as the semester went along I realized that the 2nd school’s first year did not match the 1st years — there were things that I had learned that were not taught at the 2nd school until nursing 5, and things they thought I had been taught in Nursing 1 that I had not been exposed to. Once again, I did not make it through clinical. I have many nurse friends and clients who think I would be an excellent nurse, and there is a part of me that wants to try again and another part of me that feels that I should just accept that I am not cut out for it. Part of the problem is, with 20+ years as a massage therapist, I am accustomed to paying lots of attention to one person and really engaging them and that approach will never work on a hospital floor.

  73. Robin Says:

    Do most of you truly believe it’s never too late? I decided to take my prerequisites for nursing three years ago at 47. My husband lost his job shortly after I finished my second semester, so I dropped out. Now I’m 50, and find myself still wanting to do this. Part of me is so proud of myself and the other part of me thinks I’m crazy Just wondering how old is too old.

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