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Does it make sense for an RN in her 50s to pursue an MSN degree with an ARNP tract?

Monday March 31, 2014
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Dear Donna,

I'm 58, and have worked as a staff RN for 20 years, mostly in fast-paced critical areas like the catheterization lab, ER and post-anesthesia care unit. I work in quality and improvement and love my work, but believe there is more for me to accomplish. I feel a calling to return to school for an MSN degree with an ARNP tract, but I'm reluctant to do so for several reasons.

I'll be 60 when I graduate if I begin this fall and wonder what is the likelihood I’d be hired given my age, and the fact that there are plenty of unemployed people in their 50s. I'm not afraid of dedicating the time, or learning to navigate my way back into an online school program but I hate to put in the time, effort and money without the result of gaining employment after graduation. I know there are no guarantees, but I want to get as close to the right decision as possible.

Reluctant to Pursue Advanced Practice

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Reluctant to Pursue Advanced Practice,

Nurse practitioner is one of the hottest commodities in healthcare and the opportunities only will expand. Plus, 60 is relatively young by today's life expectancy standards. It is a time of rebirth and renewal for many women.

Don't let the overall job market influence you. The people in their 50s out of work are not advanced practice nurses. Read “Nursing: A new paradigm” (www.nurse.com/Cardillo/Nursing-A-New-Paradigm) to see what the experts say about advanced practice and nursing in general.

Regarding costs, there is plenty of scholarship money out there for those who go after it. Read “Master the scholarship game” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Scholarship-Game).

Once you elevate your credentials and level of practice, you also need to elevate your networking and career management skills. Read “New credentials, new role” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/New-Credentials) to ensure you do the networking required to get the advanced practice job you want once you graduate.

Best wishes,
Donna


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.