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Would I be a fool to try and become a nurse at 31?

(38 Posts)
TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 28-Feb-18 17:26:26

I'm currently an unqualified community care worker for a private company working with elderly people with dementia. I have a long history of caring at home for my son and before him my mother.
Caring and nursing to a degree is all I know.
Would I be an idiot to take an access course I try and get into uni to do nursing?
I know the NHS is on its arse and this isn't a money thing, I'm not interested in the wage.

The course is 16 hours a week so I think I could fit it in with work and 4 kids, it would be hard but I'm quite a tough cookie in terms on having a lot to deal with.

The only thing I think I'd struggle with is math, I'm awful at it, can that be overcome?

What does everyone think? Am I being unrealistic to do this at 31?

7to25 Wed 28-Feb-18 17:29:12

No
You know exactly what it entails and you are the sort of person that nursing needs.

Xnic Wed 28-Feb-18 17:30:43

I’m 31 and complete my access course in June, and start university in September to be a nurse. I say go for it!

JessyJames Wed 28-Feb-18 17:31:19

I think you'd be perfect for the job. You have the best insight for what the role involves.

Good luck with your application!

Sidge Wed 28-Feb-18 17:32:38

Not in the slightest. Even if you qualify at 35 you'll still have plenty of years left to work!!

FWIW whilst the training is a slog once qualified the world is your oyster; I work in primary care and love my job.

The Access course may only be 16 hours p/w but remember once on the degree course you'll be doing many more hours, placements and studying. Not all placements will necessarily be local, so you need support in terms of travel, childcare etc.

The maths is do-able - a lot of it is more common sense (drug calculations) than algebra for example!!

Good luck smile

MrsJoshDun Wed 28-Feb-18 17:34:48

How is the course 16 hours a week? Are you sure? I thought nmc requirements were for 40 hours a week for 3 years for training.

Oh sorry, see you said the access course. Can you cope with full time training once you do access? Including working shifts? What’s your childcare like?

There will be some maths in the training for drug calculations but you learn how to do it.

But your age shouldn’t be a barrier at all. Just consider the practicalities.

HerSymphonyAndSong Wed 28-Feb-18 17:37:20

Go for it. I have known students qualifying in their 50s and a few even older

I am sure you will be able to manage the maths - there should be plenty of support available and most of it is stuff you encounter every day anyway, it’s just scarier when presented in an assessment format

Spudina Wed 28-Feb-18 17:37:46

You are definitely not too old. Your degree course, and your nursing career will involve shift work, including nights (there are very few jobs you can get being newly qualified that aren't shifts.) If you can manage that logistically then there's no reason not to go for it. Don't worry about the maths. It will be taught. Good luck.

HerSymphonyAndSong Wed 28-Feb-18 17:40:27

OP you may also be able to explore degree apprenticeship type things if that is available in your area, so you could be employed by a trust and do some HCA-type work whilst you train. These courses are just starting up so I think it is still quite a steep learning curve for universities/Trusts, but worth considering. It may be better financially (in terms of money in your pocket whilst studying) to do it via the student loan route, however.

HerSymphonyAndSong Wed 28-Feb-18 17:41:40

I suspect re maths the OP may not just be worrying about the drugs calculation elements on the nursing degree, but the maths entry requirement for the degree itself. But again, you will be able to overcome that

OutyMcOutface Wed 28-Feb-18 18:00:24

Most peoplecan under stand basic maths-they haven't been taught properly if they don't. If this is important to you then don't let something like maths hold you back. I suggest trying Kahn academy as a free online resource to brush up on your maths before you start your course.

Lemongingertea80 Wed 28-Feb-18 18:14:27

Go for it you are the kind of person nursing needs.

TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 28-Feb-18 18:16:16

I don't have any GCSEs I dropped out to care for my Mum, I went back to do level 1 and 2 numeracy and literacy courses and passed both so I'm hoping I can use those as entry.
At the risk of embarrassing myself, I'd like to do respiratory nursing. It's my 'field' since my son has a life long resp condition and I find it all fascinating.
I have a very supportive husband and I am near 2 nursing universities. (Portsmouth and Brighton.)

Xennialish Wed 28-Feb-18 18:18:21

There are laminated cards on the ward I work on reminding staff how to work out 10% of a 4 digit number. Seriously, don’t worry about the maths!

ButterflyOfFreedom Wed 28-Feb-18 18:18:38

Go for it! Not to old at all.
I'm 37 and have just gone back to university to do a course to help me change career.
Never too late!

HerSymphonyAndSong Wed 28-Feb-18 18:22:18

Someone like you who has caring experience (both professionally and personally) and experience of using services would be a huge asset

WifeofDarth Wed 28-Feb-18 18:23:34

31 is young! Young enough to make the most of your new career and yet mature enough to make the most of studying. Go for it & enjoy.

TheFairyCaravan Wed 28-Feb-18 18:29:57

Go for it.

DS2(21) has 5 months left of his nursing degree. It was all he wanted to do since he was about 5. He spent a lot of time in and out of hospital and he’s looked after me too. He loves it and really misses being on placement when he’s at uni. It’s hard work but he manages and holds down a part time job too.

You sound like an ideal candidate to me. You’ve got loads of experience and you’re still really young. Good luck.

MyBrilliantDisguise Wed 28-Feb-18 18:30:02

I taught Access students in a college.

At my college you would have to take a two year Access course - we called ours a pre-Access and then the Access course. The first year is to get you the GCSEs, without which you'd struggle to get into nursing.

It's a very highly competitive degree. Completion of an Access course doesn't guarantee entry to a nursing degree, I'm afraid - you're up against the school leavers with A levels as well as other mature students. I'm not saying you shouldn't apply - you are clearly the right sort of person, but please don't think that it's inevitable you'll get on to the degree course.

However, doing the Access course will mean you're mixing with other people who want to start a new career and that is such a healthy and exciting environment to be in. Careers advisers should be able to talk through all the different options at degree level, too, so that you can perhaps have a back up or even change direction once you know which courses are available.

You do sound like you'd be a great candidate but you have to remember that it is an academic as well as a practical degree, so the two year course would be needed to help you get on to it.

And of course while you're doing 16 hours on the Access course, you wouldn't be doing that on the degree. My friend's daughter started her Nursing course in September 2017 and by October she was working long shifts at the local hospital, starting at 6 am. Do you have someone who can be there for your children at times like that?

NukaColaGirl Wed 28-Feb-18 18:37:38

I’m 31 (single Mum to 3DC aged 9 7 and 2) and currently doing Access Science, have a place for Microbiology at the local RG Uni. It is way more than 16 hours a week. There are assignments and exams at the end of each half term. It is hard. You need as many Distinctions as possible and they require a lot of extra study in your own time. I’m timetabled for 5 classes a week, so 5 Units at a time, lessons are 1.5 hours each. I do at least 10 extra hours per unit per week, off my own back, and have straight Distinctions so far, others have straight Merits but put in less hours of study at home.

It’s amazing though. I absolutely love every minute of it, my class are mostly 19/20 year olds with a few 26/27 year olds (I’m the oldest by a long shot and the only parent) but it’s so much fun.

NukaColaGirl Wed 28-Feb-18 18:41:07

I know someone on the Nursing Access at my college who’s been offered a place and needs 15 Distinctions and 30 Merits for Nursing at the local Uni. She also needs a new Maths GCSE (she’s 36) at a grade B. In comparison I need 30 Distinctions and 15 Merits for Microbiology.

rascallyrascal Wed 28-Feb-18 18:41:31

Do it. With your experience we need you! Don't worry about the maths etc as there is plenty of support to help you!

dontbesillyhenry Wed 28-Feb-18 18:54:48

I struggled with maths. I not only completed the level I needed to get but also did the higher level as well as I was so determined. And as for your age don't worry about that at all there will be many older

lougle Wed 28-Feb-18 19:10:34

You're not being unreasonable at all, you have been at the coalface, so to speak, and you know the least glamorous parts of the caring professions. But if respiratory is your thing, I would take a half-step back and consider what you get the most satisfaction from, or what you find most fascinating, and how you would best achieve that, because the respiratory field is so multi-disciplinary that you have choices.

I'm an intensive care nurse. In intensive care, we look at the 'nuts and bolts' of our patients body systems. We want to know not just how often they are breathing, how deeply, and their oxygen saturations (which is generally what ward nurses would look at), but we want to know how much oxygen is in their blood, how much carbon dioxide, we listen to their chest for wheeze and crackles, consolidation, etc., and we adjust their therapy accordingly, within the broad parameters set on ward round.

Another really interesting field is physiotherapy. When we're struggling to ventilate a respiratory patient in ITU, it's the physios we call. They come and do some manual hyperinflation (rapid inflation and releasing of air from the lungs to agitate any plugs of mucous that are lodged and obstructing gas exchange), or some other chest physiotherapy, to improve the patient's ability to take in oxygen and, crucially, offload carbon dioxide. Physiotherapists are also the professionals that manage the weaning plans of patients who have been ventilated for a long time and then have a tracheostomy. They help them to become gradually less dependent on mechanical ventilation, and build the muscle strength and confidence to breathe independently.

Physiotherapists also help patients to regain their muscle strength after being bed-bound. Ventilated patients lose about 2% muscle mass each day that they are ventilated. The muscles around the lungs waste just like every other muscle. After 10 days in bed, ventilated, patients can be so weak that they can't lift a finger, let alone sit up and breathe. Physios design a plan for how long a patient will breathe on their own at a time, in sessions of 10 minutes at first, then gradually help them to learn to sit up, transfer to a chair, walk, etc., breathing on their own.

Occupational therapists have a whole other function, in helping patients adapt their environment to maximise their function and reduce their respiratory demand.

So, it may be nursing, but respiratory care has so many roles that are really exciting, that it's worth spending a few minutes pondering, and if you can, trying to get a shift observing a physio/OT, etc.

TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 28-Feb-18 19:22:55

Well most of this is positive! I love that. I am confident I can do it, it's all I know. I will certainly book an appointment with the careers advisor at the local collage and hash out if I am able and have the time etc.
I'm currently sat in hospital with my son, we've been here 3 weeks, I am managing everything anyway as I always do and I'm chomping at the bit to be on the other side of the cubical so to speak.
I only say respiratory because it's my main focus as a parent carer, I do the physio, I do the central line care and usage, I do the gastrostomy care and diet, I do the sputum collections and analysing and I can read an X-ray and listen to a chest and hear the crackles and put I together with the obs to make an accurate request with a dr to say this is what is needed etc a can more than go,d my own in a medical discussion with the consultants I spend time with, I'm aware it won't be the same for other patients and there is a hell of a lot more too it than that but it gives me such energy and joy to be hands on caring and helping people. I think a regular nurse on a ward will be enough and then I can look at specialising at a later date if that's an option.

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