Tips & Requirements For Older Adults Who Want To Go To Nursing School
- Pick a program that suites your career goals! There are two ways to become a registered nurse and this is through an associates degree or bachelors degree program. Read about the differences between ADN and BSN degrees and how long they each take.
- Do you already have a bachelors degree in something else? If you do, then I have great news for you: You can get a bachelors degree in nursing through an accelerated or second-degree nursing program in as little as 1 ½ to 2 years . So, before you apply to a nursing program make sure you look for these types of programs. You will save time and money!
- Youll need a high school diploma or G.E.D! Make sure you have earned one or the other. You will need one of these before you can apply to any type of nursing program.
- Study for the COMPASS exam! If you are under the age of 21, you will have to take an exam called the COMPASS exam. Students who are under 21 take the ACT or SAT and the COMPASS is similar.
This exam tests you are basic things you should have learned in high school, and some universities will have you take remediation classes to bring you up to speed, if you dont do well on this exam. I recommend you get a Compass study guide .
How Capable You Can Be Under Pressure
The one thing that genuinely surprised me about life as a nurse was how well I worked under pressure, Sweeney says. Nursing is not an easy professionit requires both physical and mental stamina to make it through those 14-hour shifts.
If you love the work you are doing and believe in the impact it makes on every patients life, you might find yourself thriving even in a whirlwind of activity. I surprised myself with how much I could accomplish in the organized chaos that the ER exuded, all while remaining calm.
Why Going To Nursing School As An Older Nurse Is Easier
Here are the top advantages of being an older nursing student.
1. You Know What You Want
This is 1 of 2 of the biggest advantages I think an older nursing student will have over a student. Plain and simply, as an adult you know what you want . Having clarity in goals tends to be the opposite for students in their late teens and early 20s.
2. You Can Afford to Go to Nursing School
While this might not be the case for every older nursing student, I would venture to say its probably the case for many.
If youre older, youre probably coming into a nursing program as your second career with financial resources available to you that a 21-year-old probably doesnt have.
Pro Tip: If this isnt you, no worries. Heres an article on the different ways to pay for nursing school. Check it out and let me know what you think.
3. Youre Highly Motivated
Im not saying young college students are not highly motivated .
I am saying that compared to an adult who has a hectic schedule and is looking to go in and get out quickly, I dont even think its anywhere close to a comparison.
4. You Already Know How to Prioritize
One of the hardest things I had to learn in my nursing program was how to prioritize. I had to learn it while in the program because not knowing it made passing difficult.
Learning to prioritize is so hard for many young students because most have never had to. Its different for nontraditional students. You know why? Because youre already doing it.
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Will I Fit In
Concerned that youll be in class with students ten years younger than you? Worried you wont have anything in common with anyone? Think again. ABSN students liken their cohort to a family.
The students in my cohort are the only ones who know what Im going through right now. They are my second family, says Dawn, ABSN student.
Our largest group of students falls in the 25-40 age range. You may not have a ton in common with your classmates, but youll have one big thing in common youre all trying to get through nursing school.
Learn How To Toot Your Own Horn With Panache
Create your plan for self-promotion. Regardless of whether you are a boisterous extrovert or a restrained introvert, expand your professional networks and let people know your capabilities. Make a list of who can help you achieve your objective and then strategize how best to directly and indirectly gain their notice.
The most important place to start is within your own company. When you win a piece of business or create an attractive website or advance a project in any way, you really have to let people know. Dont be shy. Also, dont assume that you can just dash off an email that the higher ups will necessarily read. You need to get comfortable with promoting your achievements. No one will do this for you.
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Fitting In As A Nontraditional Learner
Hunt argues that “nontraditional students may face multiple challenges, although they also have many strengths.” Many nursing programs use an educational model that accommodates the traditional college demographic of students under the age of 25, based on full-time attendance and a sequenced schedule of coursework and labs. Consequently, older nursing students may face challenges fitting in. Not only do they struggle with financial, work, and family responsibilities, they may lack test taking skills and feel inadequately prepared to use new technologies
Nontraditional learners achieve the most success by facing their challenges and learning to use their own strengths as assets. Dobratz shares how she felt eagerly accepted and valued for her maturity. “My instructors and fellow students relied on me for my steadfastness and perseverance. Please do not cheat the school and students of all that you have to offer.”
There Are Many Reasons To Consider Entering Nursing School As An Older Adult
There are plenty of reasons to think about becoming a nurse. Some go back to childhood and the Cherry Ames nurse mysteries. Others are pragmatic, based on analysis of the employment outlook. Some common reasons to go to nursing school as an adult:
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Workforce Need For Nurses With Bsn Degree
Nurses are returning to college to pursue their bachelor of science in nursing degree in record numbers. Increasingly, employers are requiring RNs to have attained a BSN before they are hired or within two years of their employment start date. Many research studies over the past 30 years have shown that patients cared for by RNs with bachelors degrees have better health outcomes. Successfully completing a BSN opens up a wealth of career opportunities for the registered nurse and lays the foundation for continuing on to graduate studies.
Remember There Are Different Types Of Nursing Jobs
There are so many jobs available for nurses. You can work in a hospital, in a private clinic, in a retirement home, school, or mental health facility. Those are just a few of the examples. The point is to remember that there are options available!
Dont be discouraged from attending nursing school because you think you wont be able to keep up with the hectic hustle of a hospital. There are so many places you can use your training.
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Polish Your Technical Skills
You will never get ahead unless youre a pro when it comes to technical expertise. Investigate the technical skills youll need to hit your five-year goal. Envision what activities you will need to pursue to gain these skills. Is it more education? Can you find training opportunities through your job, volunteer work, or a side gig? List all the skills you will need to master, along with your strategies for attaining them within your five-year career development plan.
Round Up The Essentials
Nursing school is notoriously challenging, but a little practical preparation can help you avoid burnout. Katz recommends investing in a comfortable pair of shoes, finding some healthy snacks you can enjoy on the go and identifying a few exercises you can do almost anywhere.
Her last piece of advice? Have a friend on speed dial you can call when youre delirious from lack of sleep, or if you just need a virtual hug!
Applying To Nursing Schools
Getting into nursing school can often take more time than you would think, because the number of people applying for slots far exceeds the slots available. Your previous grades, the impression you make during interviews and your letters of recommendation will all play into whether or not you snag a coveted slot.
For the 2018 academic year, admissions to baccalaureate nursing programs increased by almost 4 percent however, 75,209 qualified applicants were rejected, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
You Probably Wont Be The Oldest One So Dont Stress About It
Through creating this blog, weve received endless emails from people in the 40s, 50s and beyond wanting to pursue a career in nursing but thought they were too old.
While the average age for nursing students is probably somewhere in the mid 20s you are not the only late bloomer into the nursing profession.
Interestingly, in Australia, the average age for nurses is 44.4 years old.
In the United States, majority of registered nurses employed full-time and part-time in the U.S. range in ages from 45 to 59.
As a real-life example, I recently read about 90-year old Lorna Prendergast from Australia who graduated from the University of Melbourne.
She studied the effect of music in assisting those affected with dementia after her husband passed away.
Her message was this
Nobody is too old to sit down and say Im too old, I cant do it.
The stories of men and women graduating from college in their 90s to pursue their dreams inspires us and showcases, its never too late.
However to be a realist, here are a few things to consider before diving in to study.
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Former Occupation: Small Business Owner
Debbie had reservations about going back to school at an advanced age, knowing that she would be older than her classmates and probably even older than her instructors.
But after owning several small businesses, including a childrens consignment store and an RV service and repair shop, the Western New York resident found herself unemployed and looking for a more stable position.
She knew that the healthcare field was growing, so she decided to enroll in Bryant & Stratton College Onlines Medical Administration for Billing and Coding Degree program.
“You just have to keep going and put yourself out there to other people because you’ll never know what comes back to you when you do. You might lose some of your memory and mind when you get older, but going back to school really proved to me that you’re never too old to learn.”
Practice Good Study Skills With Your Cohort
Youll be covering new ground every week as an ABSN student, and the deadlines come just as fast as the material youll be going over. Try to follow a set study schedule when reviewing concepts from labs and completing assignments to stay on track, and dont be afraid to reach out to other members of your cohort. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, but youll all be going through this common experience together and each cohort member is there to see everyone else succeed as well. With a routine and support from your fellow students, youll be better equipped to meet deadlines and succeed in this vital aspect of your nursing education.
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Certain Experiences Matter More Than Others For The Er
If you love emergency care and want to work in a hospital, there are ways to be more competitive for those positions. I wish I had known that I needed experience in medical surgical nursing before specializing in something like the emergency department, says Mary Sweeney, RN, BSN, CEN, ONN-CG and medical consultant at Mom Loves Best. I had been a tech in the ER all throughout nursing school and was desperate to be an emergency nurse.
Med/surg nursing offers the ideal foundation to build on for emergency situations, Sweeney explains. You need to develop that sixth sense that tells you when a patient is going to go downhill, even when their vital signs say that theyre fine.
I always recommend that new graduate nurses gain at least a year of general medical nursing experience before going into emergency and critical care.
Life Experience Is Useful For A Nurse
Empathy and life experience are necessary to take care of patients, comfort them and help them become healthy again. Each patient who comes to receive medical treatment has a unique situation. When you’ve already gained experience in areas other than nursing, it may make it easier to understand a patient’s particular circumstances and connect with them better.
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Witnessing Patient Suffering Is Never Easy
Even if youve never felt squeamish at the sight of blood or injuries, seeing people in pain can be much less clinical than you think. I wish I knew how difficult it was going to be to see people suffering in physical, mental and emotional pain, says Jeanne Dockins, RN, BSN and CNOR.
Consider your specialty with care, and give some thought to how you will react when your patients are hurting or dealing with grief. Certain types of nurses will deal with more severe health issues on their shifts than others.
As a surgical nurse for over 30 years, I saw some horrific traumas which affected me deeply. Some things you can never un-see, Dockins says.
What I Wish Someone Told Me Before Becoming A Registered Nurse
By Brianna Flavin on 05/18/2020
Jumping into something new is scary when you dont have all of the facts. Thats exactly why choosing a career is so challenging. Its not like you can just spend a few years in school, try out a job for a bit and jump to another if you dont like itwell, at least not without more education and training.
Becoming a registered nurse is no different. We all think we know what an RN does, based on TV shows or our real-life interactions at hospitals or doctors offices. But what goes on behind the scenes? Is nursing school worth it once youre on the other side?
What is it like to be a nurse? Its not easy to get a clear picture of this career without speaking to those whove walked the walk. So to help, we rounded up nursing experts to tell you what they wish theyd known BEFORE becoming an RN.
Read their advice and find out a few lessons they learned along the way.
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Is 51 Too Old To Become A Nurse
I am 51 years old and wonder if this age is too old to consider a nursing career? I started about 20 years ago, but with family, etc., I never finished the course. I have condidered returning, but always talk myself out of it by thinking I am too old. Can I really keep up with the young students and others who are much younger than me? I have always worked, and work as a 911 dispatcher at the fire department. With at least 15 years until retirement, is nursing something that I can start now and continue until that time? Still Wants to be a Nurse
Dear Still Wants to be a Nurse,
At the very young age of 51 you are not even close to being too old to get into nursing. Many people are coming into the profession at every stage of life. In fact the oldest student I have met to date was 70 years old. Youll also find that many students today are older and have had previous careers. If youve already been a 911 dispatcher, you can definitely hold your own in a nursing program.
It is said that on our death bed, we dont regret the tings we did but the things we didnt do. So end the cycle of regret that you currently carry. Stop thinking about it and just do it.
Will it carry you another 15 years until retirement? Absolutely. There are nurses in their 80s still working by choice because they love what they do. Everyone is living and working longer these days. And nursing is so diverse, there is literally something for every nurse at every stage of life.
Classes To Become A Nurse
Youll need to be able to pass courses in a variety of sciences to become a nurse. Nursing degrees and certificate classes typically include biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology and behavioral sciences. Youll also need to learn how to fill out care-related paperwork and learn medical facility practices and procedures. Part of your training will include working with actual patients and the same equipment youll use on the job.
Youll be observed working with patients, so youll need to be a people-person enjoy working with patients, nurses and doctors and have good communications skills. Good communication is critical when you are filling out medical paperwork and writing down instructions from a doctor or other nurse.
Some hospitals and health care facilities offer training via certificate or diploma programs. Youll get your training while working and will usually have a job waiting for you when you earn your certificate or diploma.
However you decide to prepare for a career in nursing, make sure the program thats training you is accredited and that you will be able to sit for your states licensing exam upon completion of your studies. Potential employers will be able to tell you whether or not they will accept a certain programs certificate or diploma.