Should I start nursing studies at age 59?


Last year Patricia asked Nurse Uncut readers whether she should start nursing studies at age 49. Now Paul, who is 10 years older, has the same question. Do those 10 years make a difference? Does he have enough time to study and then start a nursing career?

In fact, many nurses work into their 80s and even 90s – for example, this incredible woman is still working part-time at age 97!

Here’s Paul’s question [photo of Paul on right]: I have been a house-dad for the last 15 years. My kids are now quite independent and I am currently doing a Cert IV in Disability, which I am enjoying very much. I am seriously considering a Bachelor of Nursing next year. I know the study will be very challenging but I am confident I can do it.

My only worry is that I am 59 years old and so will complete the degree when I am 62. I am concerned about reports of ageism and worry that I may not get a job. I also live in regional Victoria where they have not quite caught up with big city thinking.

This is something I really want. I need as much feedback as possible, good or bad.

What do you think? Should I just go for it and hope for the best?

Please give Paul your feedback in comments below.

Previously on Nurse Uncut:


  1. Hey Paul, I honestly believe that a person can become a nurse at any age. I only just graduated with my degree last July at the age of 33. I was disappointed that I hadn’t discovered nursing earlier and felt that I had wasted so much time! In regards to getting a job, with the ageing population in Australia, more and more nurses are going to be needed. There are a lot of mature age student support groups in universities (particularly on Facebook) who help each other out, give advice and get together for a drink. Ageism is only an issue in some workplaces. Different managers have different ideas. If you are not averse to working in aged care (sorry, I know I’m always banging on about aged care nursing- it’s just that I’m passionate about it!) there are plenty of older nurses. Our patients are getting older and older therefore having more mature nurses can only be a bonus.

    • Thanks Vanessa, I have begun to realise that age care nursing is the most logical way for me to go. We also have a number of age care facilities in my town so I don’t think a job would be an issue. I am moving closer to making the decision, only biggie now is EN or RN. Thanks again for your encouragement.

      • I’m an EN, I’m 39 and just completed my diploma and thinking of going on to do my RN. Maybe do the EN, see how you feel, then RN is another 2 years after that.

        Good luck!

  2. I did my EEN at 53. I first did cert 3 and 4 in phlebotomy to see if I could cope with the basics of studying, assignments etc. I was obviously the oldest in the class. I coped with the workload. Did extremely well grade wise. Finding a niche in the workplace just didn’t happen for me. Too old to be considered for grad year. Any place I did work (through agency) I found the staff just expected me to be so much more experienced and knowledgeable due to my age. They had little or no patience that I was a newbie and was very careful with calcs and a bit slower than those who had been doing it for decades. Some were so rude that they’d sigh and take over. This was all age groups. I could see that their attitude was not like this with the younger grads. I decided I was too old to put up with this type of bullying and their need for power struggles and only ended up doing it for less than 6 months. Shame, as I loved it. Blitzed the study. Blitzed the placements. Loved the patients but ultimately you’ve got to be happy and I wasn’t.

  3. Started EEN training 14 years ago @ 45 years old in Mental Health, moved to new city 18 months later & picked up EEN position as a perioperative nurse (12 month inhouse training) & soon after strongly encouraged to enter Uni. Completed Bachelor of Nursing @ 51 & had 12 years continuous nursing in perioperative (Instrument Circulating Nurse). No regrets & really appreciate the support & encouragement from my wife & colleagues along the way.

  4. Just finished my new grad rotations and I’m 56.
    I found the study interesting, though sometimes it took a while to sink into my brain and I really had to work hard. Upon saying that, my average marks were credits & distinctions. I finished school with an equivalent to year 10 school certificate and my marks were 3 out of 5 in maths and 4 out of 5 in English.
    I was working fulltime and did my degree part time so it took me 6 years.
    I have had mixed experiences similar to Vicki, some (not all) staff expected me to be much more experienced and knowledgeable due to my age but that didn’t bother me and once I explained that I was an “old, new student” the majority were OK with it.
    I too am a bit slower than the younger newbies and have had quite a few problems with that, I had no nursing experience before, BUT I’m determined to hold my head up high and work hard to get through this as I really love nursing.
    I’m getting great feedback from the patients as I take the time (not too long) to quickly explain things to them, I am empathetic due to so many of my personal life and death experiences so I can relate to the patients and their families too.
    If I could do it all again, the main thing I would change would be to work as a casual AIN while studying. This will not only give you nursing experience but will help with your studies and you will adapt more quickly to the hospital environment and be accustomed to the workloads and priorities.
    Go for it Paul, what can happen if you don’t try?

  5. I will be 60 in May and I graduate as an EN in August! It’s NEVER too late! Go for it and enjoy the study. I’m loving it!


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