FIND NP PROGRAMS
FIND NP PROGRAMS
Am I Too Old to Become a Nurse Practitioner? – 10 Tips to Join After 45
Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Nurse practitioners play a vital role in healthcare delivery, helping meet the healthcare needs of millions of Americans. In May of 2023, there were 258,230 nursing practitioners in the United States, with a predicted growth
of 40% over the next 10 years. This growth is faster than most jobs—making this an excellent career choice.
Does becoming a nurse practitioner excite you? Are you ready to make this leap in your career, but wondering, am I too old to become a nurse practitioner? Rest easy knowing the average age of nurse practitioners is around 46—making this an excellent career for nurses of all ages. Below, I will provide 10 tips to help you successfully become a nurse practitioner after 45.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS
CAN I BECOME A NURSE PRACTITIONER AFTER 45?
Yes—you absolutely can become a nurse practitioner after 45. There is no right age to become a nurse practitioner
—and often times your knowledge and skills gained in your years as a nurse will greatly benefit you in your new career.
And while you absolutely can become a nurse practitioner after the age of 45, be mindful of when you are planning to retire. The schooling is an added cost and you want to make sure the investment is a good one and you come out ahead financially.
TOP 3 REASONS WHY IT’S GREAT TO BECOME A NURSE PRACTITIONER EVEN AFTER 45
You may be wondering why you should become a nurse practitioner
after 45? Below, you will find the top three reasons why it is great to become a nurse practitioner after the age of 45—and please note they are in no specific order.
Increase in pay leading to a greater yearly salary.
More autonomy in your practice.
Greater flexibility in your work schedule.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY BECOME A NURSE PRACTITIONER AFTER 45?
(The following are the 10 must-follow tips if you are planning to become a nurse practitioner after 45.)
TIP #1: Utilize the knowledge you have gained as a nurse to help you in your new career as a nurse practitioner
If you have been a nurse for 20 years, be proud! Utilize your experience working in healthcare or as a nurse to benefit you as a nurse practitioner. Don’t underestimate what you have learned at the bedside. These skills will help set you apart from others as they have taught you patience, clinical skills, and knowledge, as well as how to communicate with patients, families, and the entire healthcare team to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
TIP #2: Know the resources you want to use in practice
Resources are used by nurse practitioners of all ages—and will help you become a successful nurse practitioner after age 45. What do I mean by resources? UptoDate
is an example of a resource used by physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, and it provides up-to-date information regarding disease processes and medications. Epocrates
is another resource commonly used by all practitioners that provides current information regarding drugs and the proper dose for specific disease processes.
TIP #3: Network and develop working relationships with others who are either similar in age or experience
I recommend you develop relationships with other nurse practitioner students or nurse practitioners who are similar in age or experience. This will provide you with a network or a team around you to bounce ideas off of, ask questions or share similar experiences, concerns, or frustrations. This will grant you a sense of community that is instrumental in leading you to success as a nurse practitioner after 45.
TIP #4: Ask questions
Do not be afraid to ask questions; sometimes, the person you ask may be younger than you, which is okay. This may occur in school if you do not understand specific content or struggle with instructions for an assignment.
In practice, if you are caring for a complex patient or are stumped about the next steps to complete the workup--do not hesitate to seek clarification or collaborate with another practitioner to ensure your patient receives the best care possible. The most important thing is that your patient receives appropriate care, and sometimes the only way to guarantee this is by asking a question.
TIP #5: Don’t let the technology intimidate you.
It is not uncommon for technology to be viewed as intimidating, which is true for even nurses, nurse practitioner students, and nurse practitioners. But technology is utilized in all aspects of NP programs and healthcare—and therefore, you should not let it intimidate you!
Technology is utilized in NP programs, even if classes are delivered online. A learning platform and email provide course information, where assignments are submitted and grades are received. It is also the primary tool for communicating with the instructors and other students. This may be intimidating for students who have been out of school for a long time, as the format of classes may differ significantly.
Technology is also used in the delivery of care, including the use of electronic medical records. Resources for the NP are also primarily online—some books can still be purchased, but online versions allow the most accessible access to the most up-to-date information.
Ultimately, don’t let technology stop you from pursuing your dream!
TIP #6: Pick a specialty you have experience with and are passionate about
To become a successful nurse practitioner after 45, choose a nurse practitioner specialty
you are knowledgeable about. Many, but not all, nurses who are 45 or older have many years of experience as a nurse or working in healthcare--which can significantly benefit them when selecting a specialty to follow. If you enjoy caring for adults in the hospital, consider following the adult acute care NP path. Pursue the psychiatric mental health NP track if you are passionate about caring for patients with mental health disorders.
Choosing a specialty will help motivate and drive you through the schooling, ultimately making you a better practitioner. Our patients can tell when we love what we do, and it does shine through in our daily practice and positive outcomes for our patients.
TIP #7: Utilize your experience and connections to help obtain clinical/precept opportunities and a job after graduation.
A common concern or even fear of nurse practitioner students is not being able to find clinical experiences—especially if their program does not help with placement. Do not let this keep you from pursuing your dreams; instead, use the relationships formed working as a nurse to find clinical sites to fulfill the requirements for graduation. Once you start reaching out, you will discover healthcare providers want to help nurses succeed and will often help you find clinical sites that will lead you to success in your NP program and career.
As you apply for NP jobs
after graduation or even if you're looking for a new job as an NP—use your connections and networking skills to help you! Becoming a nurse practitioner after 45 may indicate that you have formed many work relationships and contacts in your years of bedside nursing—so don't be afraid to reach out to those connections to help land a job. I can say from experience—that your relationships can land you the position of your dreams!
TIP #8: Be confident
Be confident! Don’t be intimidated by other practitioners, whether they are older or younger than you. Know that your experience as a nurse is invaluable and will aid you in your new career--but do not be overly confident that you will not ask for or accept help or guidance when needed.
Confidence is needed to be successful in school and will help you pass your certification exam. It is also essential as your patients will notice if you are confident in yourself when treating them--and will have more faith in you as a nurse practitioner if they feel comfortable and trust you.
TIP #9: Research nurse practitioner schools before applying
Each NP program's requirements, delivery format, and clinical requirements differ. Make a list of essential features of the NP program you wish to attend and research programs that meet that criteria. Making a list and identifying must-haves for the NP program of your dreams—will help guide your research and identify the programs that fulfill the must-haves leading to success as an NP after 45.
TIP #10: Use your experience to guide your decisions
To become a successful NP after age 45, use your experiences as a nurse to guide your decisions as an NP. In other words, your experiences up to this point in your career have helped shape you as a nurse. You know what specialties or areas you have enjoyed and populations you do not want to work with. Use this knowledge to help determine what specialty you want to pursue, as you don’t want to waste a lot of time working jobs as an NP that you don’t have any passion for.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Did I answer the question, am I too old to become a nurse practitioner? Do you feel more motivated and confident in pursuing your career goal of becoming a nurse practitioner
? I hope the 10 tips I provided help you to successfully become a nurse practitioner after 45.
Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!