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Will I have a difficult time getting hired as a patient advocate at my age, which is 50, once I have completed my nursing education?

Wednesday November 20, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am returning to college at the age of 50. I am very interested in patient advocacy positions, however, I do not have any medical experience. Am I wasting my time? Will I have a difficult time getting hired at my age once I have completed my education? Do you have any suggestions on a nursing specialty?

Returning to College

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Returning to College,

You are certainly not wasting your time. Many people are coming into nursing in their 50s and beyond. The average working nurse is 50-something; you will fit right in.

Patient advocate, care manager and nurse navigator all are similar positions and in high demand now and will be in the future. These positions are/will be available in hospitals, home care, clinics and medical office settings. Many nurses also are forming their own businesses based in
patient advocacy.

It would be ideal if you could acquire some hospital, home care or health clinic experience before going on to advocacy just to put into practice what you have learned in school and hone your clinical judgment and critical thinking skills. This also is a good way to better understand the workings of the healthcare system. However, it is entirely possible for you to work as a patient advocate in certain settings right out of school with proper support, especially since many new nurses are having trouble finding traditional employment.

Once you get into school, you will learn more about the various roles/settings in nursing and about how the healthcare system is evolving.

By the time you graduate you will have a better idea of where your passion lies and where the opportunities are for you.

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://www. Nurse.com/Events.