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Is there a job market for a 66-year-old new graduate nurse?

Friday April 13, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am 66, retired and thinking of starting a new career. My bachelor’s degree is in business administration. The programs I am considering will take two years to complete, which means I will be 68 when I graduate. Is there a job market for a new grad at that age?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Mary,

There is a job market for a 68-year-old new nurse, but it may not be in the hospital. Here’s why: The healthcare system is reinventing itself, and care rapidly is shifting out of the hospital into the community, the home and alternative care settings such as long-term care and rehabilitation.

There also will be an emphasis on wellness education and coaching and outpatient management of chronic illness, which is an epidemic in this country.

You don’t mention whether you’ll have a BSN or ADN when you graduate, but because you already have a bachelor’s degree in another major, hopefully you’re going for an accelerated or “second-degree BSN.” The higher nursing degree will make you more marketable in the short and long terms. If you do decide to pursue hospital bedside employment, many hospitals prefer to hire nurses with a BSN these days.

The great thing about nursing is the opportunities are varied, broad and constantly expanding. Much of the nursing workforce is very "middle-age" and even "older,” so you’ll fit right in at 68.

Nursing will take you anywhere you want to go, at any age. Nurses have great professional longevity. Many of us are working into our 80s. So if that is where your heart is pulling you, go for it and make it work for you!

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’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.