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Nursingdegrees > Nursing Blog > Answers to Your Nursing Career Questions

Nursing School: Right Out of HS or Later in Life?

May 7th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

If someone goes straight from high school into nursing – LPN or RN, they could, conceivably, be a nurse by the age of 20 or 21. Is 20 old enough to be a nurse, to hold someone’s life in your hands?

In some areas of nursing, maturity and experience counts for a lot. Palliative care, for example, is an incredibly satisfying and challenging area of nursing. But can someone with little life experience appreciate what it takes to take care of a dying patient and his or her family? What about obstetrics? Can a 20-year-old who likely hasn’t had much experience in having babies be a good OBS nurse? If not, at what age will he or she have enough? And what if she never has a child?

Life experience contributes an enormous amount of knowledge and skill into nursing. Would it be fair to say that you could only be a nurse if you have worked in another field before? Most people would say no, that’s not fair at all. But when you see so many new, young nurses struggling with some of the demands of the nursing profession, is it because they are young or merely because they are inexperienced with the job?

Being a “mature” new nurse doesn’t guarantee that you will be a good nurse. Some nursing students who have worked in another career have difficulty with the skill sets it takes to be a good nurse. On the other hand, someone with work experience in other settings may be great at handling conflict or critical thinking in emergencies.

So, that brings us back to a full circle. Is there a “too young” age to be a nurse? Can you be a good nurse at any age? Should only “mature” people apply for nursing school?

What do you think? When did you enter nursing?

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