The idea of changing careers later in life might be exactly what appeals to you. If you’ve never really been able to do what you wanted in terms of your career choices, when you are finally at a point in life, even if you don’t have many years left before you are planning to retire, you will gain both a sense of relief and freedom.
Of course, the important part is not just thinking about what you might do and making plans that you feel are exciting and that give you joy, but actually following those plans through and doing something about it. Otherwise, not only will you have the regret of not having done what you wanted initially, but you’ll add to that regret by not doing what you want to when you have a second chance.
Nursing is a great career choice for those who are looking for something else to do. It will involve in-depth training, but this training can be done online for the most part, and even carried out around your current job. If you’ve always wanted to be a nurse, but circumstances played their part in not allowing this to happen, you should take any opportunity presented to you to follow your dream. You can truly make a difference in people’s lives and in your own, as doing what you always wanted to do is good for your mental health and overall happiness too.
So if you’re considering retraining to become a nurse in later life, here are some of the main reasons why this is such a good idea.
Nursing is something that requires experience. This doesn’t just mean the nursing experience you will gain over years of working after gaining your degree; it also means life experiences. Younger nurses will have technical knowledge and many other skills, and they will make wonderful nurses, but older people in their 40s and 50s, for example, will have gained experience in other ways. They will know what life’s twists and turns can do to a person, and they will have spent many years helping others in all kinds of ways, whether that’s family members, friends, colleagues, or even complete strangers.
As long as you have the ability to learn and the willingness to help as much as possible, your life experiences are going to help you become a nurse that others will look up to and remember in a positive way, despite the fact that others might have been nursing for much longer than you.
Different Working Options
No hospital, clinic, or medical facility that requires nurses will ever dismiss the idea of hiring someone just because they are older. Nurses are always needed, so if you are thinking of changing careers, there is no need to be concerned about finding a job; there will be any number of positions open for you to apply for once you have your qualifications.
What’s really exciting about nursing is the number of different areas in which people can work. You can choose orthopedic medicine, cancer care, the ER, surgical procedures, or you can even look into what the family nurse practitioner scope of practice entails, among other things.
How is this of benefit to an older nurse? The answer is because you will already have a good idea of exactly which area of nursing you want to go into. Nurses who start their training straight out of high school and who go to work right out of college have a slight disadvantage here; they might not necessarily know what branch of nursing they want to work in. This means they have trouble finding their feet, and they may feel they want to switch to other disciplines. This will take a lot of time and will be extremely disruptive to them, their careers, and the places in which they are working.
An older nurse who has had time to understand more about themselves in life will know what areas they are best in. For example, they might work well with children, or perhaps seniors are their preferred area of nursing. Knowing where you want to start will shorten the process and help you get more out of your years of nursing.
Flexible Working Hours
Something that can often put people off applying for a nursing qualification is the idea that there are long shifts involved and that weekends and holidays have to be worked too. When raising a family – particularly as a single parent – this just might not be feasible.
The older you are, the less this is a problem. If you do have children, they will be older by the time you choose to take on a nursing degree and much more likely to be able to take care of themselves if you are working later or during the weekend. They may even have grown up and moved away.
Even if it wasn’t children that worried you about taking up shift work and you were concerned about how you would deal with shifts themselves, this can be dealt with. Nurses are in such high demand, particularly those with a specialty, that flexible working conditions may be able to be arranged. This is not guaranteed, but there is always the possibility, with employers understanding now more than ever that flexible working is crucial for well-being and good mental health.
Alternatively, you might feel that now you have enjoyed your days of going out with friends at the weekends or staying up late or anything else that would have made shift work difficult to handle, you can now deal with it well. This would mean working all kinds of different hours, and some people thrive on this, liking the fact they can go grocery shopping when it’s quiet or have a day off in the week when they can do whatever they want.
If you choose to become a nurse later in life, there is going to be a lot of training to do. You will be starting from a zero-sum of knowledge, so, just like those who are entering college from high school, you will be working on the same courses and taking the same tests.
This can be good for older people for many different reasons. Firstly, if you attend a physical college, you will be mixing with a younger generation. Although this could sound rather uncomfortable, it will actually teach you a lot about how to care for younger patients and the new elements of technology that are emerging.
Yet above this, whether you are at a physical school or an online one (wherein you can still have virtual chats with your classmates, so don’t worry about missing out on that), the fact that you are older could stand you in good stead. In contrast, younger people may be distracted by seeing their friends, having parties, working a part-time job, or anything else that places a great deal of pressure on them regarding time and the discipline they need to learn. If you are older, you are much more likely to be able to concentrate, and therefore learn faster.
Of course, these are generalizations, but it is something to think about. Are you more focused on your goals now than when you were twenty or thirty years younger and starting college for the first time? If so, now is the best time to learn as you will get much more out of it and do well in your nursing career.
Stay In The Job
Nursing is often a ‘career for life,’ and knowing this is why many people assume you have to start when you are young and work as a nurse until you retire. This does happen a lot; those who choose the nursing profession usually do so because it is a career they can evolve with, learning as they go, and progressing to higher ranks and more responsibility. Yet this is not the rule, and there is no reason why you have to start young in order to have a ‘career for life.’
If you are an older person who is either starting their nursing career from the beginning or perhaps coming back to nursing after a number of years away, you can still stay in that job until you retire. Retirement might be under 10 years away, or it could be 30 years or more in the future, but whatever it is, and however you choose to deal with it, once you have your nursing qualification, you really do have a career you can stay in for as long as you want. Not many jobs come with this kind of security, so if you’re looking for something ‘safe’ (albeit a job that is definitely hard work), nursing is perfect.
Good For The Nurse
We’ve seen what the benefits are to the hospitals and the places of work that will hire nurses, and we’ve seen what the benefits would be to the patients. We’ve even taken a little look at the benefits to the nurses themselves, but this can be expanded; there is much more to be said.
One of the major benefits is that you will be working in a career that genuinely means something; it’s a job that makes positive differences to people’s lives, helping them physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you go home at night, you will know you’ve been needed and will continue to be needed.
Learning and training is important too. As we get older, it’s vital we keep our brains active, and studying for a nursing degree and then working in a hospital with a variety of different patients means you will always need to keep thinking. Your brain is going to be active and healthy for much longer when you’re a nurse.