Should I start nursing studies at age 59? Yes!


As you know, age is no barrier to being a great nurse or midwife and there are a lot of very hard-working nurses and midwives who join the profession after many years in different careers. Many work into their 80s and even 90s – for example, this incredible woman is still working part-time at age 97!

Earlier this year we posted a story from Paul who was considering studying nursing at the age of 59. Your responses were very encouraging and we couldn’t be happier when Paul contacted us to let us know he starts studying next year. Here’s what he had to say:

Paul is studying to be a nurse.

Remember me? Well, I am enrolled at university next year for a bachelor of nursing. I had to go through a few hoops but I was given an early round offer much to my surprise and delight. I am now anxiously, but also very excitedly, waiting to see what I have signed up for. I think it will be hard but I am up for it.

I had a negative response today when I told someone what I am doing. Told me I was too old, won’t get a job and will be competing with 20 year old nurses. I didn’t flinch and said “That’s okay, I will deal with that when I get to it”.

I was very encouraged by all the comments I received to my last post as well, some negative but one has to have a bit of a balance. Sometimes the negative comments have merit too and make me aware there will be some tough challenges ahead. Most people who look at me think I am mid to late forties and I don’t correct them. It’s amazing how a number can immediately change perceptions, they no longer look at me as a person with ambitions just like them but more as a nuisance who needs a reality check.

As I am already enrolled at university, I have full access to the student portal. I think I am most looking forward to learning new things and new skills. I have not done anything new like this for about 40 years. I know I will be the oldest student in the group and even if I am championing my own cause on my own I am up for it.

Evidently not everyone starts nursing in their early 20s. Do you have experience studying to be a nurse or midwife a little later on in life? Let us know your story and offer your words of wisdom to Paul in the comments below.


  1. I started my studies at 50 and have had some of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’ll be 53 when I hit my grad year.
    It’s been hard work and no easy ride, but I feel like it was completely the right thing for me to do and have not regretted it at all (well, maybe once or twice in the run up to exams. )
    My only advice is to go all in; Ask those questions, take optional activities, get involved in Uni life.
    Good luck, Paul, your world is about to get a whole lot wider.

    ~ Rachel

  2. I’m 52 and starting a Diploma of Nursing in January and can hardly wait. Having trained as an RN in the hospital-based system 30 years ago and left nursing some years later due to circumstances, my heart has been calling me to return for a long time. It was hard weighing up the pros and cons of RN vs EN, but I’m happy with my decision. Thanks to posts and threads like this, I feel I’m going into it with my eyes wide open. Best of luck, Paul, with your journey!

  3. I graduated as an RN at 51. 5 years on and I can say I have had no issues “competing” for positions with younger colleagues. Work hard, ask questions, be safe, and be respectful – that’s my recipe for success. You can’t change your age so just ignore it.

  4. Hi Paul
    I am 55 and have applied as well (inspired by your post!). Still waiting to hear whether I’m in but have done this together with my daughter and we will both have to move to another town to study if we get in. Nervous, excited and still unsure, as my son (who has recently graduated as a Doctor) thinks I shouldn’t do it! I would love to stay in touch to find out how you are going and any other info you have which can help me make this decision (assuming they let me in). Is it okay to ask what Uni you will be studying at? Good luck to you anyway!

  5. Hi Paul, I did not come from a nursing background, but at 54yrs I received my Diploma of Nursing for which I commenced nursing 3 1/2yrs ago. I recently at 59yrs graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing (Dec 2017) and have just commenced the 2018 RN TTP. Paul all I can tell you from my perspective as a mature aged student, life’s experiences do have a lot to offer and receives a lot of respect and support from people of all ages and walks of life. The experience has been amazing and although I questioned myself and my capabilities many times and often wondered what on earth I was thinking, I actually did it. All the best with your studies Paul and I truly wish you well with your journey.

    • karen, hello, i have a Diploma of Nursing and would like to become RN, how ever i dont know how or where to go’ i dont want to set study that i aready have done in subjects , any sugguestions

  6. Yes!! This makes me so happy to read. Why shouldn’t you do what you love- so inspiring- good for you!! I finished my RN (from the U.S.) at 46 and starting my first RN job at 47. I’ve had mostly positive reactions from people – I am very fit and healthy and most importantly – I simply ignore the “age thing.” I don’t think it should matter, so I don’t act as if it does! If people respond to me as though they think I should have more experience, I simply say I’m a second career RN, rather than an “older” one. I like your strategy also of just letting them assume you’re younger. I do the same;-). Congratulations on your accomplishments!


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