Becoming a Nurse Later in Life: Is It Too Late?

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Are you thinking about making a career change to nursing? Becoming a nurse later in life is possible, even in your 50s or 60s. First, speak with an admissions counselor about your eligibility for an accelerated nursing program. Then, work on brushing up on essential academic skills.

college student studies on laptop in library

Not everyone sticks with their first, second or even third career choice for their entire working life. Switching careers later in life is quite common. No matter your age, it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.

Your dream of pursuing nursing as a second career may be more achievable than you think. No matter your academic and professional background, making a career change to nursing is possible. Becoming a nurse later in life is more doable when you choose the University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. With the ABSN program, you can graduate with your nursing degree in far less time than a traditional BSN program.

Is It Too Late to Become a Nurse?

It’s true that many people start nursing school straight out of high school and enter the workforce as registered nurses (RN) in their early 20s. However, many other nursing professionals come to the field later in life. It’s a diverse field, with individuals of all ages and backgrounds. It’s never too late to become a nurse, regardless of whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s.

nurse in red scrubs talking with patient

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Benefits of Becoming a Nurse Later in Life

Not only is there still time to become a nurse, but there are unique benefits to becoming a nurse later in life. As an older nursing student, you’ll have the following characteristics to your advantage:

  • You already know your strengths and have the wisdom to work on your weaker areas proactively.
  • You have a firm idea of what you want from your career.
  • Higher education is essential for your career and personal success, and you’re eager to embrace lifelong learning beyond your degree program.
  • You have well-developed social skills, which can translate well to your bedside manner.

How to Make a Career Change to Nursing

Becoming a nurse later in life will require hard work and dedication, but it’s a doable career change. Here’s an overview of the process.

Is a BSN worth it? Learn the top benefits of earning your BSN.

nurse smiling at patient

Call an Admissions Counselor

Before doing anything else, calling an admissions counselor at the University of St. Thomas is a good idea. You’ll be assigned to your dedicated counselor, who can answer all your questions and provide more information about the program. Your counselor can also help you determine whether this nursing school is a good fit based on your academic background and preferences.

When you call, have a copy of your unofficial college transcripts on hand. The counselor can quickly review your unofficial transcripts to assess your eligibility.

Sharpen Your Academic Skills

If you’re in your 40s or beyond, it may have been quite a while since you last stepped inside a classroom. Spending time brushing up on your academic skills can be helpful. You can start by dipping a toe in the water, so to speak, by checking out free online resources. For example, Khan Academy can offer assistance refreshing your math skills and science knowledge and even has tutorials on health and medicine topics.

When you’re ready to plunge further into the admissions process, you’ll likely need to complete one or more prerequisite courses. Your admissions counselor will determine which prerequisites you lack. Luckily, the ABSN program at UST requires fewer prerequisites than other ABSN programs. You might need to complete:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II (lab recommended but not required)
  • Microbiology (lab recommended but not required)
  • Algebra or Statistics
  • Nutrition (highly recommended but not required)

These prerequisites will prepare you to tackle the nursing school curriculum.

student sitting outside at table using laptop

Take the Entrance Exam

It’s common for ABSN programs to require applicants to take either the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) or HESI (Health Education Systems, Inc.) entrance exams. At UST, you can choose from either exam.

The TEAS assesses your readiness for nursing school based on skills in reading, science, mathematics and English and language usage. The HESI also covers areas like reading comprehension, vocabulary, science and mathematics, and nursing school-specific knowledge in anatomy and physiology.

Submit Your Application

The last step in applying to nursing school is to submit your application package. UST simplified the process by no longer requiring applicants to prepare a personal statement or essay. However, you’ll still need to assemble all the necessary documentation. Your admissions counselor will ensure that your application package is complete.

woman in red sweater sitting at desk using laptop

Further explore how to apply for nursing school here.

Common Questions About Becoming a Nurse Later in Life

Executing a career change to nursing requires some careful planning. To begin, write down a list of all your questions. You can refer to them when speaking with an admissions counselor. Some common questions about becoming a nurse later in life are as follows.

Will I Fit In?

When you imagine a college campus, you may picture rows of seats filled with students in their late teens to early 20s. It might be tough to imagine yourself fitting in, but the truth is that college truly is for everyone, regardless of age.

UST nursing students working in sim lab

ABSN programs are especially diverse since they are designed for transfer students and those switching careers later in life. In UST’s ABSN program, our diverse student body is united by their shared goal of making a meaningful difference in the lives of others through compassionate nursing.

Will There Be a Demand for My New Skills?

Heading back to college is an investment in time and resources, so it’s wise to reflect upon whether you can reenter the workforce relatively quickly. In the nursing field, however, that isn’t much of a concern because of an ongoing shortage of nurses in the U.S. that isn’t likely to end soon.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that registered nurses will have a job growth rate of 6% (faster than average) from 2022 through 2032. This indicates that healthcare employers expect to hire about 177,400 new nurses during this period.

Can I Afford a Career Change?

As a nurse, you can expect lucrative earning potential, plus opportunities to pursue advancement. Finishing your education will require careful planning before you can work as a nurse. You’ll need to pay for tuition, program fees and other student expenses, such as scrubs, textbooks and nursing equipment. However, you do not need to shoulder the total cost alone.

You may be eligible for federal student aid. Completing the FAFSA each year will determine your eligibility for federal student grants and loans. In addition, you might consider looking into tuition reimbursement programs available from your employer and private scholarships. The helpful staff at the Financial Aid Office at the University of St. Thomas can assist you with any questions about financing your education.

girl with laptop in hands

Ready to Pursue Nursing as a Second Career?

With the University of St. Thomas ABSN program, you won’t have to wait long to reenter the workforce. It’s possible to graduate with your bachelor’s degree in as few as 12 months and be fully qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. With three start dates per year, you can begin soon, depending on prerequisites.

When you’re ready to achieve your dream of becoming a nurse later in life, our admissions counselors are here to help. Contact us today, and you’ll be assigned a dedicated admissions counselor to work with you one-on-one through each step of the admissions process.