Too Old To Become a Nurse? 7 Reasons Why You’re Not!

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Are you interested in becoming a nurse, but you feel like your age is holding you back? You are not too old to become a nurse, and here is why. What is too old anyway?

This is a completely subjective opinion, not objective.

To a twenty-year-old, getting into nursing in your thirties might sound old to that age group. To the forty-something-year-old in nursing school, someone in their thirties may sound young to them.

See? Subjective opinion.

Time is going to pass regardless, no matter what you decide to spend your time doing.

The median age of a registered nurse in America is 52 years old, and 53 for LPN’s. Nurses aged 65 and older account for 19% of the workforce. These are very significant numbers and should really encourage you.

The proof is in the data. This is a career path that, literally, ages well. Older nurses are respected and seen as being experienced and more trustworthy.

1. 42% of those in an ADN program are over the age of 30

Check out these statistics in Los Angeles county. The age range of nursing students ranged from 20-60 years old!

Also, take a look at this NLN stat sheet. This shows the percentages of nursing students over age the age of thirty, and then the different percentages of them in varying types of nursing programs ex: ADN, BSN, etc.

These stats are a few years old, these numbers are likely much higher now.

2. Time is going to pass regardless

Time, it’s funny like that. It seems to just keep going, and going, and going. If you are interested in something and motivated by it, why not spend the precious time that you have remaining going after it?

In some spiritual, and even scientific circles, they say that time is just an illusion anyway. It is a purely human construct of measurement.

If you really start to understand this, it will take the pressure of aging off of you. We all have aging bodies. Have you heard of apoptosis? Our cells are literally programmed to die. Aging is not this unfortunate, bad luck event.

You are not alone, you are not unique in your aging process. It just is what it is.

Therefore, if you strongly struggle with age acceptance, we suggest trying to reprogram your mind into a completely new mindset. Aim to take the perspective of being an observer of life, rather than the constant “doer”.

Follow what genuinely interests you.

Do not worry about time, age, and what others might think. This is your movie, nobody else’s.

3. Your ego is why you typed in this question in the first place

Too Old To Become a Nurse

Your ego is what makes you believe you are separate from everything, and everyone else. The ego is not all bad. Ego exists because it has been very important in evolution, to keep the human species alive.

Egoic thinking goes something like, “I am the body. This is me, and everything else is separate from me.”

The ego is your programming, and it gives you feedback.

The reason you may think you are too old for nursing school is most likely because of social media.

You remember your peers going to nursing school when you were all a lot younger, so your ego thinks, “oh, this is only for young people to do.”

Or you may see friends whose younger daughters are becoming nurses in their early twenties. Again, this strengthens that programming, and the ego refers this information back to you.

It is becoming more and more understood that the ego is no longer very useful and is actually redundant now.

4. Ageism in nursing affects all ages, not just young, not just older

Ageism is discrimination. If someone ever discriminates against you due to your age, this is illegal.

Ageism does not just affect older nurses.

The medical field can be unique in this regard in that younger nurses can often highly be discriminated against too.

When working in healthcare, we tend to take care of an older demographic more commonly. The older generation feels more comfortable with healthcare workers closer to their age. They think that the younger nurses, and physicians, don’t know as much as their older peers, and so they don’t as easily trust them.

Sometimes older nurses fear that they might miss out on promotions over the younger generation. But the younger nurses also fear that they may miss out on promotions due to not having as much experience.

As you can see, there is a lot of the “grass is greener” on the other side going on here. When you’re young, you just want to “grow up”, and when you’re older, you just want to be young again.

This is why we must conquer our ego and learn to just “be”.

There are benefits to both sides. There are benefits to being a younger nurse, there are benefits to being an older nurse. Don’t discriminate against yourself, or others based on age, and just go be the best nurse you can possibly be.

5. There is a severe nursing shortage, and we need all hands on deck

There are 71 million people in our country that are over the age of 65 that need care, and it will only become direr and direr for this population. However, there are only about 4 million registered nurses.

If you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties, and you are worried you are too old to become a nurse, perhaps this will help put things into perspective.

The baby boomer generation is growing older, and very quickly. The newer generations did not keep up in repopulating the country at the baby boomer rate.

One of the hardest things about working as a nurse is burnout due to not having enough staff. When there is not enough staff, but there are patients in beds, the patient ratio increases for nurses.

We can’t turn people away from the hospital due to staffing. So the nurses who are working that day, have to take on the load. Travel nurses are very expensive for hospitals, and it can take a lot of time to establish their contracts and training etc.

Also, as we can see, there are not millions and millions of licensed nurses just waiting for travel nursing contracts anyway.

So if you are the type who needs a call to action due to immense need, this is it.

6. Wisdom and life experience are useful in nursing

Too Old To Become a Nurse

As a nurse, you will be working with the public. This means, in a lot of ways, it can feel a lot like a customer service job.

There is going to be small talk, and you will need to establish a good repour with your patients.

This means getting to know each other a little better so that they feel comfortable with you, but also so you feel comfortable with them too. This is an important step in achieving positive patient outcomes.

For example, if you work in L&D, postpartum, NICU, and/or pediatrics, having a child of your own can help patients feel just even that much more comfortable with you.

Life experience is truly priceless in certain patient situations. They are in your care to heal, and that can be accomplished much faster if they feel safe and heard. This is where wisdom comes into play.

You don’t have to spill your life story to your patients, in fact, you really shouldn’t. Just the wisdom that you have gathered throughout your life is going to speak volumes through the way that you take care of them.

Wisdom and life experience are also going to make you a better coworker.

Our wisdom affects our attitudes, and how we treat people whether we realize it or not.

If you are an older adult nurse, just know that your wisdom is going to make you even that much of a better nurse. Certain things are going to click easier and faster for you in nursing school as well.

7. The nursing specialties you can go into are extensive

When it comes to the physical concerns of being an older adult nurse, there are a plethora of different nursing specialties you can go into to accommodate your physical requirements.

Read here for our article on the best jobs for nurses over 50, that are actually really cool.

Not every nursing position is working on the night shift, on an intense, and busy unit. Some new nurses convince themselves that they have to start out there no matter what, but this is just not true.

In my personal experience in working in healthcare, I have met many nurses from many different backgrounds. Every nurse has an interesting and unique story.

You would be surprised to learn that many nurses have never worked in a hospital at all.

This is a huge country with a ton of opportunities for nurses. There are always options to move to land the job that you deserve and require.

Also, this is the twenty-first century. Remote positions for RN’s are growing extremely fast.

Here’s your call to action!

If you are googling, “am I too old to become a nurse” we hope that this article has helped, and/or inspired you, in some way.

Please don’t ever subject yourself to ageism.

It is bad enough when other people do it.

You, and only you, know what you are capable of. If nursing is your dream, in the famous words of Nike… Just do it!

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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