Is There Age Discrimination in Nursing Schools?

Learn whether students of a certain age are being discriminated against in school.

Age Discrimination: True or False?

If you were asked to picture a nurse, you might conjure up an image of the nurse you know from your doctor’s office. You might envision one of the cast members from Grey’s Anatomy, or picture a woman, most likely a young woman, not doing much more than taking temperatures and handing out aspirin.

That third image is more than a bit dated. But how much is the stereotypical view of a nurse influencing the student body at nursing schools?

In particular, does age discrimination in nursing schools exist?

Future nurses would more than likely expect nursing schools to extend open arms to motivated, viable nursing candidates. As reports, discrimination is not the issue it used to be in nursing schools, but it does exist in covert forms.

In general, nursing schools work hard to recruit a diverse student body, but once admitted, students may end up feeling isolated or “targeted” because they do not fit the typical nursing student profile. Students who often feel this burden generally fall into the following groups:

According to the Nursing Spectrum article “Mature Nurses: Put Your Best Foot Forward,” older nurses bring highly valuable qualities to the job, including life experience, strong critical thinking skills and adaptability—often highlighted through the course of a long career.

And older nursing students, whether they are in the midst of a career change or advancing their nursing skills through nursing continuing education, present those same qualities. That might not alter the perspective of the younger students in class, but it can give older students an edge in job interviews.

Ultimately, however, it’s up to nursing students to decide whether to stay at a school where age discrimination exists. They can choose to take it, fight it or walk away. But, as stresses, it’s important that students not “give up [their] dream of being a nurse” because they don’t fit a particular mold. That would be the worst outcome of all.


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