Is it too Late to Become a Nurse at 40?
Becoming a Nurse at 40: Is it too late to become a nurse at 40? Studies suggest that most people who are considering going back to school to become a nurse can be middle-aged or even more than 40 years of age. There’s no doubt that at this age, a lot of questions about going back to school or other doubts can arise, such as “Would it be hard? Would we fit in?” or the most common one, “Are we too old becoming a nurse at 40?”
Although there are too many opinions about whether it’s too late to begin a new/second career, there is still no definitive answer to these questions. So, the question gets even trickier when we talk about becoming a nurse at 40, where studies suggest that the average age of working Registered Nurses (RNs) is currently at 50 years, and there are currently five generations of nurses, starting from 20 years till 80 years of age, who are working successfully, side by side in their profession and with happiness. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), those who change to second careers at an older age are part of a revolution, making them the first generation of Americans who changed careers after the age of 50 years.
Those who are second-career nursing applicants come from very distinguished job backgrounds, ranging from police officers to firefighters, teachers to business entrepreneurs, and other vast variety of healthcare jobs. An article published by the Columbia University’s School of Nursing, “Second Acts: Discovering Nursing as a Second Career,” asks an interesting question that: “What do a former opera singer, an ex-sommelier and an organic farmer have in common?”
That they all chose to make the impossible career switch to becoming a nurse.
Career Change to Nursing at 40 – What to Keep in Mind?
Career Change to Nursing at 40: To aspiring candidates who are on the path of a career change to nursing at 40, should be prepared and keep in mind that choosing the field of nursing is a challenge. This is because the job requires the person to make efforts both physically and emotionally. If the person who wishes to become a nurse has an aptitude for math as well as science, can thrive to work in an intense atmosphere, and also love to work with other people, can surely consider a career change to nursing at 40 or even take it as an option for a second career at this age. If they aren’t convinced that their age doesn’t make them handicapped, and still think that is it too late to become a nurse at 40, then here’s what they should keep in mind:
- According to a study report done by the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses(RN), 45% of the Registered Nurses are at least 50 years of age or even older.
- The same report suggests that the average age for the registered nurses that have already availed their licenses is currently 47 years old. This age is rapidly increasing every year, which shows that a higher number of students are entering to become a nurse after they’ve pursued another career.
- The nursing school administrators have reported that students who join the nursing course as a second-career option, bring in higher energy and intensity to focus on their studies compared to their younger counterparts, and perform better academically.
- Most employers value certain virtues in their employees such as maturity, professionalism, and advanced decision-making skills, which are all already inherited by older workers who are nursing.
Becoming a Nurse After 40 – Physical Requirements
Becoming a Nurse After 40 – Is it too late to become a nurse at 40? Certain added virtues such as wisdom, life experience, and relatability towards an aging population act as an added bonus for those planning on becoming a nurse after 40. For these candidates, it’s never too late to enter the field of nursing if they’re willing to make new ties with technology, immerse themselves in their studies, and demonstrate resilience.
Becoming a nurse at 40: Although aspiring nurses should also be aware of the fact that working in a hospital or nursing home is not easy, instead, it’s extremely demanding. But working in an out-patient clinic, government agency, or non-profit organization might be less stressful. Similar to this, working as a staff nurse may be more physically demanding than working as a nurse administrator. It depends on where the candidate chooses to work, but a few of the daily stressors can include:
- To work irregular shifts, working on-call, or working on weekends/public holidays.
- To move (heavy lifting and supporting) the patients for checkups, tests, etc.
- To work in facilities which are inadequately-staffed.
- To keep up on their feet for long periods of time.
- To work with critically/chronically ill people and their families.
- To work in a situation where there’s an emergency.
Nursing as a Second Career
Nursing as a Second Career: There are a million reasons why moving to a career in nursing as a second career can work well for a person. Even many of the career analysts can agree that the field of nursing and its future look bright, due to several options/specializations, well-rounded salaries, benefits, career mobility, etc. It was only last year that the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics made the projection that 1.1 million additional nurses will be required to prevent a further shortage as well as the employment opportunities will grow at an even faster rate in nursing (15%) than all other occupations till 2026. This shows that the demand for qualified nurses is increasing at a fast pace. Another study published in Health Affairs projected a shortage of between 3,00,000 to 1 million nurses by the year 2025, which is greater than any nursing shortage experienced in the US in more than half a century.
Nursing as a second career: For a candidate to becoming a nurse after 40, they must have a:
- Degree from an accredited registered nursing program
- Current Registered Nurse license in the US and the state where they live
- Two years of full-time work experience as a Registered Nurse
For people who already have an existing degree, bridge programs can use previous experiences to become a nurse more quickly. If the candidate has a degree in another field, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) can be the quickest way to becoming a nurse at 40. For those who have a healthcare certification, they won’t have to repeat their training which they have already completed. After the candidate earns a nursing degree, they’ll have to pass the NCLEX-RN, which is a standardized exam set by the Board of Nursing in every state that shows that they’re certified to work as a Registered Nurse (RN). Once they’re registered, then they can choose any area that they enjoy for their specialties such as a Family Nurse Practitioner, a Nurse Executive, or a Patient Blood Management Nurse.
Becoming a nurse at 40: It is only in the field of nursing as a second career, that a candidate can experience both the hospital bedside as well as the boardroom and allow them to work in ambulatory, critical or long-term care with patients of any or all ages. This is the only profession that includes staff, management, or administrative roles, including opportunities in business, sales, education, law, etc. The students can work on weekdays or weekends, day or during the night, full-time or part-time, or per-diem schedules. The profession of nursing is diverse and inclusive in employment and patient care. Any aspiring candidate who thinks of becoming a nurse at 40 or more is allowed to apply for nursing, regardless of his or her age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic background because the only fundamental rule for nursing is that all the patients are taken care of exceptionally.
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Becoming a Nurse at 40 – What are the ways to pursue your choice of career or the right age to become a nurse? Find out.