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Nursing as a Second Career

Nursing as a Second Career

Laura Wisniewski RN, BS, CIC

Shirley sat in the front row of new hire orientation. Her face beamed with the enthusiastic glow of a new nurse. She eagerly asked questions, scribbled notes and participated in group discussions. Shirley is not your average graduate nurse…she was 60 years old when she graduated from nursing school.

Her childhood dream had always been to become a nurse. However, her family could not afford to send her to nursing school. At the age of seventeen she married her high school sweetheart Bill. After the last of their three children started school, Shirley began work as a bookkeeper in Bill’s real estate office. Life was good…but from time to time she still regretted not following her dream of becoming a nurse.

Their lives were suddenly turned upside down after Bill was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Shirley became his primary caregiver; learning everything she could about his illness. Throughout Bill’s numerous hospitalizations, she had the opportunity to closely observe nurses as they worked. Shirley was inspired by their compassion, intelligence and technical skills.

During a blessed period of remission, they made plans for Shirley’s future. Bill helped her select the nursing school she would attend. He lived long enough to watch his bride graduate nursing school and begin her new life. According to Shirley, “I am doing this for both of us”.

Next page: From Many Backgrounds


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  • Dscf0757_005_max50

    luvitsunny

    over 5 years ago

    24 comments

    After 20+ years in the same career I made a change to nursing at age 51 by starting as an LPN. I'm now 58 and working on my MSN, gainfully employed as an RN in two elementary schools. No weekends, summers off w/pay, two weeks Dec.-Jan and a spring break. It's okay! :)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 5 years ago

    I started at 49! I am working full time and taking two classes a semester. I am now 52 and will be in the core RN program next year!

  • 100_0318_max50

    bridget66

    over 5 years ago

    10 comments

    I will be 42 next month and I'm just starting my nursing prereqs. My chemistry lab partner is 54. It's never to late to be what we might have been. I think with age comes a lot of worldly wisdom (especially with Mothers which we both are). We are both soooooo excited to start this new path into Nursing and it's very nice to hear stories like this. Good luck to all the nursing students and may God Bless you all!

  • Faceshot_max50

    swiller

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a career changer -- a real estate paralegal in my most recent former life. Now I am a first semester nursing student. WooooooHooooooooo!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 5 years ago

    Excellent story, gives us old people hope.

  • 1122071358_c3_af_1__max50

    casassy62688

    over 5 years ago

    290 comments

    Great article. I'm definately going to share this with some of the band parents I know (I've only been ou tof high shcool for 2 years, and my little brother is in the marching band, so I talk to a lot of the band moms). Because a lot of them tell me that I made a great choice going into nursing, and they tell me that they wish they would have done it. Then I tell them that they could always go back to school and become a nurse, and they always say that they are too old. This will show them!

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