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VOICES

A Late Start in the Healing Arts: Finding a Calling After Work Is Done
By LAURA NOVAK Published: April 13, 2004 SIGN IN TO RECOMMEND TWITTER SIGN IN TO EMAIL PRINT SINGLE-PAGE REPRINTS SHARE

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MANY people spend their retirement taking care of someone else, and that person has usually been a spouse. But as retirement becomes less of life's last lap and more of a post-middle-age transition, a growing number of people are deciding in their later years to care for others by becoming nurses. Accelerated nursing programs have nearly tripled since 1990, and have made it easier and quicker to earn a nursing degree. Here are the observations of five people who have chosen this path. MICHAEL GREENE

Michael Greene, 55, has been working as an adult nurse practitioner for two years. He shares a private practice with a doctor in the Castro District of San Francisco. When he was 51, Mr. Greene moved across the country to enroll at the Yale University School of Nursing. All I had ever wanted to do was take care of people. But growing up in the 50's, girls became nurses and boys became doctors. So I set my sights on medical school. But I got wait-listed. I got a doctoral fellowship in biology at Georgetown. Three years later, I was just kind of burned out by the process, so I got a job as a bank teller. That temporary job turned into a career in mortgage banking and finance. Then, in 1996, I left. I had enough money in the bank. I met a partner, a man who had left a career in real estate and law to become a nurse. That was a real eye opener for me. There was this possibility that maybe I could do what I always wanted to do. In the 1980's, H.I.V. and AIDS came along, and I lost friends and a partner. I wanted to be part of taking care of these people. I volunteered at AIDS organizations but that wasn't enough. I realized that becoming a nurse practitioner would be perfect for me without having to go to medical school.

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Voices - A Late Start in the Healing Arts: Finding a Calling After Work Is Done - NYTimes.com

12/28/09 2:42 PM

I spent three years at Yale. It was difficult. I wasn't sure I was going to succeed. Our family broke up. We were bicoastal for three years. But we're stronger for it now. I didn't appreciate how intense and demanding this work would be. You are involved with the most intimate details of people's lives. People look to you for a level of expertise and responsibility that I think I'm much more able to deliver with maturity and experience. JEAN KRUEGER Jean Krueger, 62, is a registered nurse in the public health department of Siskiyou County in Northern California. She earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from California State University at Chico just before her 61st birthday. She said she considers herself "two-thirds old" and hopes to spend the last third of her life doing what she has always wanted to do. When I graduated from high school in 1960, I entered a nursing program and stayed in it for about three months, but I quit because I got married. I raised a family and went to work as a bookkeeper and an auditor for 22 years. In 1997 I retired. My husband died in 1989. I decided to work as a travel agent. But that was when the airlines decided to cut commissions, and so I thought I'd go to college. I was 57 years old. I went to Chico State, about 160 miles from my home. There's lots of variety. Today I worked in an immunization clinic. Yesterday I tested preschoolers for hearing and vision. My primary desk job is doing case management for California Children's Services. I came from a position of having everything dictated to me and I was told what to do. So I think my self-confidence was not nurtured. I'm still growing. I'm still learning. Life experiences make it easier in nursing and so does having raised children and losing a spouse. MAE LIU Mae Liu, 53, is a first-year student at Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. By age 55, she expects to be licensed as a registered nurse with a master's degree in case management. She is single with no children. She previously worked as an administrator at a health maintenance organization until she was laid off in 1997. She considered herself retired. Then a confluence of events propelled her into what she calls "a new way to retire." Around the time I stopped working, I began volunteering at Children's Hospital in Oakland. I moved to the neonatal intensive care unit. I loved being around the babies.
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Voices - A Late Start in the Healing Arts: Finding a Calling After Work Is Done - NYTimes.com

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