Did you know that going to nursing school at 30, and even older, can actually give you an edge toward your success? Why postpone your future in nursing due to feeling insecure about your age? It’s almost an oxymoron, right?
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I want to be a nurse, but am I too old?” If that is you, please keep reading. This article is for you.
My name is Jackie, and I am the creator of Midlife Nursing. Hence our website name, I am entering “midlife”, and I am entering the nursing profession in my thirties. When I graduate from nursing school, I will be almost 35 years old.
Having a year of nursing school behind me now, it feels only appropriate that I share with you what my experience has been regarding going to nursing school in my thirties.
This is not only my experience, but I have also discussed these with others who are in nursing school in their thirties, and older, as well. And we all agree… It’s never too late to go after your dreams!
Going To Nursing School at 30 Is an Advantage NOT a Disadvantage!
I am a mother, a wife, and a homeowner. The easiest thing I could have done was anything else but nursing school in my thirties. And like so many others in my position, I thought these circumstances in my life were going to be a major disadvantage in nursing school.
But I was absolutely wrong.
Just about everything in my life as it relates to nursing school at 30 and beyond, to my surprise, has actually been an advantage, NOT a disadvantage. Let’s discuss why.
1. Life Experience Goes a Long Way Being In Nursing School at 30
When you are in nursing school in your thirties, you’ll find that you have gone through many similar things as your patients. In your thirties, you have likely experienced birth, injuries, illness, deaths, etc. Either personally, or through someone, or people, you are close to.
If you have never experienced life-changing events before, starting your first clinical rotations can be very shocking.
If you have experienced things that some of your classmates’ patients are experiencing, it also gives you an opportunity to “mentor” your fellow classmates. I’ve had classmates who have a patient with “fill in the blank” and they have no idea how to communicate with them. Having some experience either personally, or professionally, I have been able to be a good resource, or just a strong shoulder to lean on.
Being in your thirties in nursing school can also give you a strong advantage in your communication skills. You have likely worked a handful of different jobs, closed on different large purchases like a home, etc. If you have prior healthcare experience, even greater the advantage.
On my first day of clinical, I wasn’t nervous at all, but to my surprise most of my classmates were. Many were so nervous to even go into their patient’s rooms and introduce themselves. The thought honestly never crossed my mind. Personally, having worked in the restaurant industry, spa industry, and having healthcare work experience, communicating with my patients was my last concern. I definitely credit this to just plain old life experience. You just have more in your thirties.
I’m also definitely not the only thirty-something in my nursing program, and you likely won’t be either.
I have seen a common trait between us thirty-somethings. And that is just not sweating the small stuff. When you are younger, with less experience behind you, things can feel like a way bigger deal than they really are. Nursing school at 30 really allows you to focus on what is really essential to the moment, and to mostly avoid any excess drama.
2. Your Body Is Still Young and Healthy in your 30’s
Of course, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, a 30-year-old body is still a healthy and young body.
I am actually in better shape now than I was in my twenties. So with dedication and diligence, a healthy and young feel body can be maintained well into your forties, fifties, and even beyond. Look at J Lo in her 50’s… Have you seen the movie Hustler? Oh, and look at Madonna, she’s still performing with so much energy in her 60’s!
If your concern is running around and working with classmates in their twenties, there is truly not much of a difference. There are plenty of people in their twenties who don’t take care of their bodies, and who struggle to get through the long days too.
So, if you feel insecure about going into nursing school in your thirties, one of the best things you can do is to focus on a healthy diet and exercise. This goes for all ages in fact. Nursing school at 30 should really have no “physical” difference if your health and strength are a priority.
3. Prioritizing Comes Easier
It became clear pretty early on that I had an advantage being “older” mainly due to what my priorities were. I was already married, so I wasn’t concerned with dating. I had a partner, so money wasn’t solely on my shoulders. Being married for over a decade, and having a child, I didn’t have much of a social life outside of my home. Hanging out with friends just hasn’t been a priority of mine for a very long time.
Therefore, I found my “lifestyle” to definitely be a slight advantage. Now I understand my lifestyle is not the case for everyone who goes to nursing school at 30, but it is a pretty “typical” life for a thirty-something too.
Beyond lifestyle though, there is something to be said about the maturity of someone who is in their thirties versus someone who is in their twenties. The human brain is not even fully matured until around age 25, and some sources even say up to 30 now!
So think about the differences between a nursing student in their early twenties, versus a nursing student in their thirties. The difference in age is really not that wide, but the difference in brain maturity is substantial.
4. You Are More Sure About What You Want Out Your Career in your 30’s
If you are in your thirties, you have likely worked quite a few different jobs by now. You may have even gotten your degree in something else that is completely different from nursing.
As our brains are fully developing throughout our twenties, it makes sense why a lot of people make career changes around 30.
When you were in high school, maybe being a “teacher” sounded really fun and ambitious. So you applied to colleges at 17-18 and got straight to work on that degree. Say you graduated and were ready to start teaching by about 24-25 years old, only to find out you really don’t enjoy managing a classroom of 20+ children at all.
It’s nothing to be ashamed about. We live in a society that likes to push teenagers out of the nest at only 18, but they can’t even drink alcohol until 21 or even rent a car until 25… Makes sense right? No, no it really doesn’t.
Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of people in midlife not enjoying their careers. Many will say that if they could go back, they would not have chosen the degree and career path that they did at just 18 years old.
I will say though, that my personal research has shown that it is extremely rare to find someone who went into nursing who will say they wish they made a different choice. This is probably due to the vast amount of different specialties in nursing. You can work at the bedside, all the way to working in high-level corporate positions.
5. Making Friends Is NOT Harder In Nursing School at 30
Having friends in school just makes it so much more bearable. As I mentioned above, my lifestyle is not very conducive to “hanging out” with friends on weekends because I have a family life to maintain. However, I do enjoy having friends in my place of work, and at school. And I know this is true for most of us.
Why are friendships important at school and work? Support.
We all need an ear to listen to us, a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent with, and someone to laugh with. We need to know someone else knows what we are going through. It doesn’t matter what age you are, humans are by nature, social creatures.
My experience with nursing school at 30, regarding friendships, is that there has been absolutely no difference. I have bonded and formed strong friendships with classmates in their early twenties, all the way up to those who are in their forties.
I have found that my new nature to “mother” has only made me a better friend, and I know it will make me a great nurse too.
6. You Are Just As “Smart” as You Were In Your 20’s If Not Even “Smarter” Now
I remember being concerned that being in nursing school at 30-something was going to put me at a disadvantage intellectually. Why? I have no idea honestly. But it has definitely not been true.
If anything, I am an even better student in my thirties than I ever was as a teenager, and way better than I was in my twenties. Not only am I passing nursing school, but I have also maintained a 4.0 GPA during my first year in the program. Read here to learn how I get straight A’s in nursing school.
I’m not sure if my brain just needed that extra “fine-tuning” in development or what, but I just understand things a lot easier now. It is likely a combination of everything on this list. Life experience, and maturity. And I have no doubt that this will be the same for you as well when you enter nursing school at 30 or beyond.
7. Nursing School at 30 Gives You An Advantage If You Have A Supportive Partner
Now I know that this is not the case for every person going into nursing in their thirties. But if this does apply to you, I have found this to definitely be an advantage compared to my single twenty-something classmates.
My husband and I have been able to arrange our life in a way that does not require me to work during nursing school. Would it be helpful if I did? Absolutely. But focusing on nothing but school, and our daughter, was what was most important to us during that first year of nursing school.
Being in your twenties, in nursing school, working, and trying to maintain a social life is a lot. I seriously have so much respect for my younger classmates. I never could have done what they are doing in my early twenties. And so, it was when I was analyzing the differences between our lifestyles that I realized that this was another advantage to being in nursing school as a married thirty-something.
8. When You Are a New Nurse, Patients Won’t Be Able To Tell
Ageism exists. It just does. However, it is not always automatically bad. There are definitely times when your age can be seen as a good thing. In healthcare, people generally like to see “older” people taking care of them. Patients generally associate older age with “experience”.
So think of a 22-year-old new grad nurse, versus a thirty-something new grad nurse. You are both just as qualified educationally, but patients will automatically qualify you “higher” based on your age. Is it fair? No, no it’s not. But is it a fact? Generally speaking, most of the time yes.
Even if you are in your thirties as a new nurse, and you don’t physically look much older than someone in their twenties, due to your life experience, you will likely carry yourself much differently when you start your first nursing job.
Nursing is one of the few careers where getting older in the trade is seen as a very good thing. Patients have almost instant confidence in you. Years of nursing experience sets you up for higher-level positions almost automatically sometimes. So if you are insecure about your age when it comes to a career, nursing can actually help you embrace getting “older” in a lot of ways.
9. You Are Still Young Enough To Be Able to Retire Comfortably, and Work For Many More Years If You Choose
If you start nursing school at 30, or 30 something, you can still have a very long career ahead of you if that is what you want. Remember, you don’t have to work in the hospital lifting patients for the entirety of your career.
If the job gets too physically taxing, there are so many other paths you can take as a nurse. You can work in management, corporate, teaching, school nursing, remotely working from home, etc. Read here to learn about different nursing jobs that appeal to nurses over 50 due to the less strenuous nature of these positions.
If you are worried about starting a little late on your retirement, read here about how you can still retire a millionaire through index funds by putting away just $100 a week for 35 years. If you put away more than that, it can happen even faster.
In Conclusion: Nursing School at 30 Is Awesome
Nursing school at 30, or 30-something, is FUN. Every age has its cons regarding nursing school, but I couldn’t think of enough cons regarding nursing school in your 30s to write a full article. However, I could clearly think of quite a few pros.
Nursing school goes crazy fast anyway. The longest part of the journey is your pre-requisites. So I suggest just putting your head down, putting one foot in front of the other, and just getting to work. Just don’t dwell on your age, or that you wish you did this sooner. There is really just no point.
Time is going to pass regardless. Yes, no matter what you are doing, time is going to pass! That is such an important point to stress.
If time is going to pass anyway, you may as well spend it working toward big goals and big dreams!
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