Becoming a Nurse Later in Life: What to Know About Switching Careers

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Becoming a nurse later in life is definitely possible. In fact, older nurses benefit from having the wisdom that is acquired through life experiences. They also tend to have better social skills. To change careers to nursing, you may qualify to apply to one of our accelerated BSN programs.

four nurses smiling

You’ve already been in the workforce for a while, building up a career, but you’re beginning to realize it’s not your true calling. You’d much rather transition to a career that would allow you to help others, and you’re starting to wonder, “Am I too old to become a nurse?”

It’s not too late to change careers to nursing. In fact, becoming a nurse later in life might be easier than you think, thanks to nursing degree programs that leverage your existing academic credentials. Nurses and nursing students come in a range of ages. As long as you have a passion for healthcare and a desire to help others, you can make it work.

At Utica University, our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program and Transfer BSN program can allow you to earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months with prior non-nursing college education. When you graduate, you’ll be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN to obtain professional licensure. Here’s a look at how to become a nurse later in life.

Questions About Becoming a Nurse Later in Life

People come to the nursing field from all walks of life. Some decide to earn a nursing degree after realizing that their chosen profession no longer suits them or doesn’t offer personal fulfillment. Becoming a nurse later in life can offer unique perks. For example, by this point, you’ve acquired the wisdom that can only come with life experiences. You’ve made mistakes and learned from them, and you’re ready to tackle the next challenge.

Making a career transition to nursing later in life may mean:

  • You have stronger social skills than a younger nursing student might.
  • You know your strengths and how to best apply them.
  • You have a clear idea of what you want from your career.
  • You understand the value of education and you’re excited at the opportunity to further yours.

You’re definitely not too old to become a nurse. It’s understandable, however, that you may have some questions and concerns about becoming a nurse later in life.

Will It Be Hard?

Nursing school is going to be hard no matter where you go. Nothing is easy, but with hard work, you’ll get through it and achieve your goal. The great thing about becoming a nurse with Utica University’s ABSN or Transfer BSN program is that – while rigorous – the program graduates practice-ready, competent nurses.

Qualified students can complete the Utica ABSN or Transfer BSN program in as few as 16 months, but our dedicated faculty go above and beyond in preparing you to be the best nurse you can be. While completing online coursework or participating in on-campus experiential learning activities, you can always ask your instructors for help clarifying concepts that you’re struggling with.

Utica student working on a manikin

Will I Fit In?

Concerned that you’ll be in class with students 10 years younger than you? Worried you won’t have anything in common with anyone? Think again. ABSN and Transfer BSN students liken their cohort to a family.

“The students in my cohort are the only ones who know what I’m going through right now. They are my second family,” says Dawn, ABSN student.

Our largest group of students falls in the 25-40 age range. You may not think you have much in common with your classmates, but you’ll have one big thing in common – each of you has a desire to become a competent and compassionate nurse.

Am I Too Old?

We often hear from people who think they’re too old to go back to school. Students have strengths and weaknesses at every age, but older adult students have a big advantage on their peers – they’ve already mastered two important factors for success: discipline and focus.

“The first time around, I didn’t want to be serious,” says ABSN student, Erin. “I was very immature until I figured out what I wanted to do. I’m a 34-year-old with a goal finally.”

We have students from all walks of life – teachers, marketers, social workers, event planners, veterans and more. The knowledge and experience you gained in your first career will only make you more capable when you change careers to nursing.

Utica ABSN student looking away

How can you know if nursing is for you? Check out this blog for some helpful guidance.

The Demand for Qualified RNs

As someone who is thinking about becoming a nurse later in life, you’re probably wise enough not to rush into a new endeavor without thinking it through. You’re likely already thinking about your employment prospects. If so, you may be delighted to know that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers a favorable outlook for nursing jobs. According to the BLS, the job growth rate for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to be 6% from 2021 through 2031, as fast as average. This indicates that healthcare employers expect to hire about 203,200 new nurses each year through 2031.

Requirements to Meet When You Change Careers to Nursing

Once you’ve decided that you’re not too old to become a nurse, it’s time to think about earning your nursing degree. When you reach out to an admission representative at Utica University, they’ll walk you through the requirements and the admission process. Your admission representative will also help you make a plan to meet the requirements and increase your chances of acceptance to our ABSN program or Transfer BSN program.

Here’s a look at some of the main nursing school requirements:

  • A minimum of 65 credits, or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a conferred associate degree—all from an accredited school
  • A cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in science courses
  • Completion of all nursing school degree requirement courses, previously called prerequisites
  • 60 credit hours in liberal arts classes, including degree requirements

How to Become a Nurse Later in Life: What to Expect from a Nursing Program

If you’ve been out of school for a while, the idea of starting a nursing program might seem a little intimidating. Yet, you’ll be well-prepared when you enroll in Utica University’s ABSN program or Transfer BSN program. You may need to complete some degree requirement courses—all of which can be completed online at Utica University. Completing these courses will refresh your working memory of academic concepts, and the process can prepare you to excel in your nursing classes.

Utica student smiling in a clinical setting

When you start the ABSN or Transfer BSN program, you’ll complete courses online to learn nursing theory and concepts. You’ll attend on-campus experiential learning activities, including skills and simulation labs. You’ll also complete clinical rotations, during which you’ll provide direct patient care under the watchful eye of a preceptor (supervisor).

Begin Your Second Act Today!

It’s not too late to launch a rewarding and meaningful career in nursing. Utica University’s ABSN program and Transfer BSN program could enable you to earn a nursing degree in as few as 16 months once you complete the degree requirement courses. And with three start dates per year and online coursework, the program offers flexibility for non-traditional students.

Contact an admission representative today to get started!

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist