As a nurse educator for over 15 years, I get asked, “Is it ever too late to start nursing school?” and “Am I too old?” In my clinical groups, I have had hundreds and maybe near a thousand students cross my path. Most are traditional students right out of high school and transitioning into college and then nursing school, which is daunting but doable, especially since their peers are diverse but share similar generational norms. However, many non-traditional students have delayed getting or furthering their education or career options for many reasons. These may include; raising children, family, time, money, or even second career options. I always say, “Time will pass anyway; what did you do with your time?”
Is It Too Late?
Many potential nursing students feel like they are too far removed from college life to sit in classrooms, learn the latest technology, computer programs, and the like. They have been working the 9-5 for years and don’t know how to juggle getting back into student life. They feel like that ship has long sailed. Contrary to this, it is never too late to start nursing school if you have a successful mindset. You may have to brush up on technology, get reacclimated to sitting in a classroom, even relearning how to be a student again, but rest assured you will not be defeated if you remain disciplined. This may also mean being a part of study groups, getting a mentor, being proactive in your learning, and asking peers and instructors questions. You can do anything you put your mind to do. “It is never too late to be what you might have been” -George Eliot.
Am I Too Old?
I have seen on nursing forums, discussion groups, and Facebook nurse groups where someone has said, “I am 50 years old, and I feel I am too old to start nursing school!” I have discovered that many older students are more focused and settled. They are no longer interested in traditional nursing students’ social norms and excel in their classes. They have a plan and goals that align with their chosen career path, and most know what they are getting into when they choose nursing as a profession. This is especially true for second-career students. I have even had students as old as 60 years old who just always dreamed of being a nurse or moving from LPN to RN, knowing they will retire in the next five years or so. All this to say…you are never too old to live your dream!
You are never too old, and it’s never too late to live in your purpose. If becoming a nurse is a second career option, a life- long dream, or a passion you have at age 60 to care for the sick, then begin your journey when you are ready. After all, you come with a wealth of life experiences that will cultivate you into being the best nurse you were destined to become.