What’s the ideal age to be a nursing student?

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

The career of nursing is changing these days. Everything from the new healthcare bill and the rolling tide of a “nursing shortage” versus an over-saturated workforce can make entering our profession a difficult choice.

To make matters worse, many tie their decision to their age. Somewhere along the way, the naysayers started influencing our profession in such negative ways:

“You’re too young to be a nurse”

 “You’re too old to be a nurse”

(Side note: I have no IDEA who these naysayers are. I’ve learned over the years that these people come from all walks of life, and they contribute nothing positive to the profession.)

Hogwash. Poppycock. Nonsense. Ballyhoo. Rubbish. Gibberish. (I wanted to use stronger words, but I’m trying to keep it professional.)

Here are a couple of things I’ve noticed in my short time in this profession:

The younger nursing student

  • Can be naïve and have less life experience
  • May find time management skills challenging
  • Will not have many habits that need to be “unlearned”
  • Is great with technology

The older nursing student

  • Can be an asset with additional life experiences
  • Is great with time management
  • Will have some habits that need to be “unlearned”
  • Can find technology challenging

Nothing more. Nothing less. Both have SO much to contribute to our profession and have unlimited potential; they need only to do the work.

The next time someone discounts a student’s age, I’d like to find out what the “ideal” age really is. The last time I checked, age is simply a number. It only determines where you start…it has no bearing on where you finish.

Do you agree?


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8 Responses to What’s the ideal age to be a nursing student?

  1. jpb954

    17 has been great for me

  2. jchilds

    How old is BEFORE you have children? Because as much as I love mine (twins no less) they made nursing school a lot harder!

  3. jeni zapor

    I am 38, returning to school for a career change and have two el. age boys. I have found this time around much better. I have life experience and passion/drive gained from that experience and agree with better time management. I think some younger students could also have these things, but I know it’s better for me to be doing this now than when I was younger. I am surprised to be in the minority at my age though. It makes me feel old and I’m not!:)

    • jackienewsome

      Hi Jeni, enjoyed reading your post. There is no age limit for becoming a nurse. There was a woman in my ASN, RN class who was 65 years old! She mentioned that she always wanted to be an RN; but life happens. So after raising her kids, she decided to go to nursing school. And I am happy to report that she graduated, passed board’s, and the rest is history! I returned to nursing school at the ripe young age of 51, and graduated with a BSN. I plan to start graduate school this year to pursue a MSN in informatic’s. I am living proof that Age is just a number!

      • 3rdactmari

        This is so encouraging it almost made me cry. I returned to college two years ago, I am now 54. I live in CA and attend RCC. I have been questioning my academic path in nursing due to some comments from nursing professionals who believe age discrimination will be a factor when the time comes to get hired. Reading these responses enables to keep on going hoping that my academic excellence and overall life experiences will not be overlooked. Thank you, you made my day!

  4. nano123

    I cant forget the time when my clinical professor asked me how old i was to reply back to me saying.. “maybe you need one more year to mature up and know how to deal with patients”. That almost tore me up hearing it from my mentor who knows me better than my other professors.

    its true that im the youngest person in the program but who says that to their student?

  5. keitht

    I am 43 and in my first year of nursing school,your never to old to learn or do something you love to do.well I guess when they close the lid and start filling the hole you might be to old but before that….go for it

  6. sk789

    Any age is good. Personally, if I would have gone straight out of highschool I would have given up. I had no real goals and nothing driving me. Starting at age 25 has been the best decision of my life. And I will be a better new nurse because of my life experiences. But any age can be a great nurse.