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Nursing as a Second Career

Nursing as a Second Career

Laura Wisniewski RN, BS, CIC

From many backgrounds

There is no typical second career nurse. Matt was a paramedic, who attended a paramedic to RN transition program in the evening at the local community college. After being downsized for the second time in the banking industry, Donna turned to nursing for a more stable and rewarding career. Angela, a nursing assistant and single mother became a nurse to increase her earning potential. After the birth of her premature son, former teacher Susan spent three months interacting with the neonatal nurses and couldn’t imagine doing anything else with her life. Deeply affected by the events of September 11th, Robert wanted more meaningful work; he quit his job as an insurance agent and is currently working as a critical care nurse.

Second career nurses bring a wide variety of skills and experience with them. With the opportunities that the nursing profession has to offer; there is more than enough room for qualified candidates of all ages. Employment skills such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence, customer service, manual dexterity, and computer skills easily transfer to the nursing profession.

How individuals utilize their experience is completely up to them. A former teacher or business manager could choose to directly apply their skills to an equivalent nursing position such as nurse educator or nurse manager. Those opting for a complete change in career direction will also find their previous life experiences a boost to their success.

Age is not a barrier

Competition for entry level positions in the general market place is fierce, making it even more difficult for the over thirty-five job seeker. In nursing, experience is considered an asset and often second career nurses advance more quickly than their younger counterparts. This is due in part to clarity of purpose that many mature adults have developed and the application of previously acquired skills.

Mid-life career change has become increasingly more common. Adults may choose to change careers for a variety of personal and financial reasons. Many are interested in exploring new fields and plan to delay retirement. The characteristic of life-long learning has become essential for survival in our ever changing knowledge-based society.

Next page: Job outlook

  • Dscf0757_005_max50


    over 5 years ago


    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! :)

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    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


    over 5 years ago


    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


    over 5 years ago


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

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    Account Removed

    over 5 years ago

    Excellent story, gives us old people hope.

  • 1122071358_c3_af_1__max50


    over 5 years ago


    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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