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My hospital is going to require diploma nurses seek a BSN. I am near retirement and can't afford the time and the cost of doing this. What should I do?

Monday April 15, 2013
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Dear Donna,

My supervisor told me the hospital is going to have a requirement that RNs with diplomas in nursing seek a BSN within three years. Is my employer able to make this a requirement? There are mandatory continuing education requirements, but the time and cost of a year or more of education is a bit much. I am near retirement age and don't feel education debt is a good way to end my career.

Resistant to Higher Education

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Resistant to Higher Education,

Your employer can make that a requirement for continuing employment, and many already have done so across the country. Presumably your employer will offer some tuition reimbursement, and you should be able to finance the rest, or a good portion of it, through scholarships. Read “Master the scholarship game” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Scholarship-Game).

Even though you may plan to retire from hospital nursing, many nurses decide afterward they still want to do something in nursing. Believe me, I get those calls all the time. With life expectancy, not to mention the cost of living being what it is today, it is common for nurses to retire from one thing and continue working in another. You never know what the future holds. Read “Go back to school and change your life” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Back-to-School).

Rather than approaching it as something you are being forced to do, think of it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world around you — a chance to stay relevant and fully engaged in life and keep your brain active and sharp. Sometimes it's good to be forced, in a good way, to do something we might not otherwise do on our own.

Embrace higher education — don't fear or resist it. It unlocks the mind and spirit and is a steppingstone to self-discovery. Education is a gift you give yourself. Go back to school for yourself first and for your career second. It is a great thing to do, at any time of life. When you cease to learn, you cease to live.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.