I got into nursing school at 33 years old. My biggest fear was that it would be too hard for my aging brain…
Okay, I’m for sure laughing out loud, maybe you are too. It is pretty ridiculous that I thought I was possibly too old for nursing school at 33 years old. But to be honest, I thought I was getting too old to go to nursing school even in my mid to late twenties.
What is up with that?
This article isn’t about ageism and nursing school, but I did want to touch on it because many fool themselves into thinking it’s a factor in how well they are going to do.
To my surprise, I have been the top student in my nursing class for the past two semesters I have been enrolled, and I am one of the oldest out of my class of 60 students.
Nursing school is hard, but it is not impossible.
If you want to go to nursing school, I am not going to sugarcoat it. It is the most challenging academic program I have ever done for sure. But again, it is NOT impossible.
Despite this being the most challenging program I have ever done, I am still getting a 4.0 GPA. To me, this is proof that it is absolutely not impossible to succeed IF you really want this.
I want to go to nursing school but is it really worth it?
While only time and personal experience can truly answer this for you, there is no doubt that nursing definitely checks a lot of the boxes when it comes to the “American Dream”.
- Job security
- Demand for nurses everywhere, even in other countries
- Advancement opportunities that are off the charts awesome
- Excellent pay with overtime opportunities
- Excellent benefits for you and your family
- Flexible schedule (3 day work week)
- A “work family” with comradery like no other industry experiences
We all have to work right? So we may as well go after a work checklist like this, in my opinion at least.
So how do I get started if I want to go to nursing school?
If I could go back and do everything over again, the FIRST thing I would do is talk to my school counselor. Seriously.
Whether you are in high school, in college currently, or thinking about college, TALK to a counselor.
I did a lot of my research on my own. I looked at the degree requirements for my school and I just started adding classes at random. Whatever sounded good to me, I registered for it.
Big mistake. Huge.
My ignorance had me mixing classes that had absolutely no business being mixed. And guess what the result of that was? Dropped classes. Wasted time. W’s (withdraws) on my transcript.
Don’t do it! Talk to a counselor. It is literally their job to help you have the smoothest college experience as possible. Nursing counselors especially are angels on Earth. They know all the “tea” about your school’s nursing program too. So use them!
Super important. Also, make sure you attend an accredited nursing program with a high NCLEX pass rate. I personally would not attend a school that performs in the low 80s and below. You can look up the pass rates of the schools around you right here.
Get some work experience if you can
So let’s assume you completed all of your pre-requisite courses, and you have applied to your program of choice. This also applies if you are still just working on your prereqs. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you at least have a taste of what health care is all about.
I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that many of my young classmates have been working in healthcare through school. Many have worked as patient care technicians, nursing assistants, medical assistants, phlebotomists, EMTs, etc.
Due to the shortage of healthcare workers, many facilities will train you on the job. If a license is required, many will help you meet those requirements while employed through their own programs established with the state.
Check out Indeed and type in “nursing assistant” and see what comes up in your area.
If you get into nursing school, and you have never stepped foot in a hospital or a nursing facility, I can only imagine what a huge shock to the system that would be. So get some experience, earn some money along the way, and make sure this is a culture you can really see yourself in long term.
Get good grades!
If you have already gotten a few sub-par grades, do not panic. I was able to get into my BSN program with a few C’s and in some super important science pre-requisites too. It really all depends on how competitive your school is.
If you are in California, the competition is fierce. That is such an understatement. Seriously, it is insane. If you are in California and have a few grades you are not too happy about, study crazy hard and do awesome on your entrance exams like the HESI or TEAS. That is where your redemption can be.
If you would like to learn how I studied for the HESI entrance exam, I will put the link to that article right here. I was able to score a 94% overall and it no doubt is what helped get me into my program of choice on my first try.
Okay, but is nursing school hard?
Yes, it is hard. But one of my favorite sayings is, “if it were easy, everyone would do it”. This is why there is such great reward for being a nurse. Yes, the program is hard, but honestly, the job is probably harder for various reasons. That is why I am such a believer in getting some experience in healthcare first, if you can.
Nursing school definitely does a good job of weeding out those who are not serious about nursing and graduating only those who are in fact serious.
There are a lot of people who get into nursing school who are just not very serious about it. I know it sounds crazy when you want something so badly, and have been dreaming about it for so long. It is hard to think there are people in these programs taking space away from those who actually would be taking it seriously.
But nursing school does an excellent job at not progressing these students, who are not serious, along. Nursing is one of the most high-risk jobs out there. It is a huge responsibility, so schools are not going to send slackers into that type of position working with the public.
Also, those types of students wouldn’t pass the NCLEX exam anyway, and that can hurt a nursing school’s accreditation. Nursing schools do not owe people a pass, or a graduation. It must be earned. And the NCLEX is a national, standardized examination. It is an even playing field, which I personally appreciate.
So when you hear people complaining about schools “just trying to fail people”, be wary. Some people, okay a lot of people, are just not very honest with themselves. We, humans, have a tendency to think things are everyone else’s fault, never our own.
You will learn a lot of humility in nursing school for sure. But if you are struggling, and you don’t assess your weaknesses, it’s going to be a tough battle. We all have weaknesses, and to survive nursing school, you have to figure out what yours are, and fast!
Just because nursing school is hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I think every single one of us has a fear of working so hard to get into nursing school, and then failing out. In my experience, if you go to a good school, it is rare to fail out. All you have to do, is do the work.
Develop great habits, stay organized and keep moving forward. When my fellow peers are exhausted and feeling defeated, I always remind them, “one step at a time”. It sounds so cliche, but we have come too far to go back now. We have to keep moving forward.
Here is an article I wrote on how to immediately do better in college. I believe if you follow these specific principles that I follow, you can have great success as I myself have experienced so far.
Don’t doubt yourself and definitely don’t quit before you have even started. For every big decision I make, I first ask myself, “If I don’t do this, will I regret it one day?” If the answer in your gut is yes, you will regret it if you don’t try, you have your answer.
- 17 Best Work Bags For Nurses In 2024! (Functional and Trendy Picks) - July 15, 2022
- 9 Remote Nursing Jobs To Satisfy Burnt Out Nurses - July 12, 2022
- 17 Best-Kept Secret Jobs for Lightworkers To Turn Your Life Around! - July 12, 2022