What would you do? - page 2

Hi all, sorry for the long post. I'm new to the forum and have several questions I hope you all can help me with. First a little background info: I'm a 37 y.o. married male with one small... Read More

  1. by   Roland
    I'm not dismissing your point about the "opportunity cost" of time in school. However, I don't think that many "younger" (that's anyone under forty in my book) people appreciate the fragile grasp that many middle income Americans feel that they have on their employment. It's a sad fact of life that too much of corporate America often views workers as resources simply to be exploited and then discarded when they find it convienient. This is of course no different for nurses, CRNA's or doctors. However, these professionals have an importent HEDGE against such treatment. Highly specialized skills, backed up by legislative imperatives that in essence mandate their expertise.

    Thus, no matter how much Osco, or K-Mart may abhor paying their pharmacist seventy thousand per year with good benefits (when they would prefer to pay a pharmacy tech. ten dollars an hour with few if any such benefits) they MUST do so IF they wish to sell prescription drugs at their facility. The same could be said of health care facilities with regard to ICU nurses or CRNA's. Of course this is only a hedge, not an absolute guarentee. Thus, many on this board (mostly in the General Discussion area) have alluded to attempts to reduce the useage of RN's with LPN's and medical technicians. However, this hedge is why my wife and I decided to give up our business to take our best shot at what very well MIGHT be a better quality of life. We did this realizing that our objective odds of success are long (I would estimate less than one in a thousand of BOTH of us becoming CRNA's. I'll do well to make it out of nursing school with a BSN with my mouth and issues!). However, it is those same "long odds" that are sufficient to motivate multitudes of people to leave their native countries risking their very lives for the mere opportunity to experience the freedom we ALREADY enjoy to pursue our dreams. God bless America because hope springs eternal, and America brings forth hope.
  2. by   Espresso girl!
    Hi Scott:

    First of all, I admire the beginnings of your research and your desire to pursue a line of work where you can truly "make a difference".

    So far in the replies, UR sleepy did an excellent job of highlighting the financial pro's and con's for you and Roland has played devil's advocate to this quite well.

    Here is an aspect I have not seen discussed: have you had the opportunity yet to experience what an RN does? I'm speaking specifically of hospital work, as it is directly correlated to work as a CRNA. Have you ever been in an ICU?

    The reason I ask is that I think it is easy to imagine the perfect job in terms of demand by the economy, pay, benefits, etc., yet unless you like the job, it might not be the thing to pursue. Have you realized that there is call, weekends, holidays involved? You probably don't have these to work right now, I'm guessing.

    I'll be the first to encourage anyone to pursue their dream, just make sure you consider all aspects before diving in and making such a commitment. Also, perhaps your wife could work to help supplement your income so you don't have to take out as many loans. I must mention though, right now loans are at about 3.5%. They can go as high as 8.25%, so timing is good for school.

    By the way, you are not too old! This is the least of anything to consider. 20 years ago someone may have believed this, but we live in an age where people have 2 and 3 careers, and it is looked upon admirably to sacrifice and make a switch, as opposed to the old protestant work ethic of doing the job, 8-5, no matter how you hate it, for 35-40 years then die.

    I say check it all out, see if it's feasible for your family to make the sacrifice (it's not just you here that's sacrificing otherwise it would be an easier matter).

    My best to you,
    Espresso Girl
  3. by   Scott_T
    Originally posted by Espresso girl!
    Here is an aspect I have not seen discussed: have you had the opportunity yet to experience what an RN does? I'm speaking specifically of hospital work, as it is directly correlated to work as a CRNA. Have you ever been in an ICU?
    I work in healthcare now. I have not specifically shadowed a nurse for an entire shift, but I do work around many nurses. I'm currently working in a cancer treatment facility, but I used to work in a hospital. I've spent time in just about every unit, including time observing surgeries from inside the surgery suite. I didn't spend tons of time in ICU, but have spent a fair amount of time over the years in many of the other units like Telemetry, Step-down, Psyc, OB, etc.

    Originally posted by Espresso girl!
    The reason I ask is that I think it is easy to imagine the perfect job in terms of demand by the economy, pay, benefits, etc., yet unless you like the job, it might not be the thing to pursue. Have you realized that there is call, weekends, holidays involved? You probably don't have these to work right now, I'm guessing.
    Right now, you're right, I don't do call anymore, but did so for years. I do work about 1 weekend a month and when I do, I generally put in about 75 hours for the week. Of course, since I'm salaried, I don't get paid a dime extra for that. Most weeks I work about 50 hours a week. (5 ten hours days.)

    Over the years I've also worked shift-work similar to most nursing shifts, (3 - 12's) and worked both days and nights. Frankly, I really liked the shift-work because of the long time off between work.

    Originally posted by Espresso girl!
    I'll be the first to encourage anyone to pursue their dream, just make sure you consider all aspects before diving in and making such a commitment. Also, perhaps your wife could work to help supplement your income so you don't have to take out as many loans. I must mention though, right now loans are at about 3.5%. They can go as high as 8.25%, so timing is good for school.
    We have thought about the financial aspects quite thoroughly. We even have a tenative budget for this. We do realize that my wife will have to go back to work for a while. We just think long term, it's not a good idea because we will eventually want to home school my daughter.

    Originally posted by Espresso girl!
    By the way, you are not too old! This is the least of anything to consider. 20 years ago someone may have believed this, but we live in an age where people have 2 and 3 careers, and it is looked upon admirably to sacrifice and make a switch, as opposed to the old protestant work ethic of doing the job, 8-5, no matter how you hate it, for 35-40 years then die.

    I say check it all out, see if it's feasible for your family to make the sacrifice (it's not just you here that's sacrificing otherwise it would be an easier matter).

    My best to you,
    Espresso Girl
    Thanks, even if I'm not too old, I feel old. I suppose to some extent, I feel like I've been wasting my time doing what I have been doing. Oh, well, no time like the present!

    Just curious, what do you do right now?

    Scott
  4. by   kmchugh
    Scott

    A. You're NOT too old. Period. If this is something you want to do, then go for it. Sounds to me as if you've researched the pros and cons of your decision.

    B. Yes, there are downsides to being a CRNA. Yes, sometimes you work a LOT of hours. But, if you are careful before signing a contract, you can find work with a group that compensates you adequately. This two week pay period, I have worked 102 hours, and am on call this weekend, and will be going in today (Sat). So, I should end up with about 30 hours of overtime on this check. My salary is a base + overtime, so I am guaranteed to make no less than $100,000, plus overtime. Do the math. I get paid A LOT of money to go in and do an anesthetic today to take out spinal instrumentation.

    C. I have friends who went to Texas Weslyan for CRNA. It's a pretty good program. Most of their graduates have a good knowldege base, and most pass boards on the first try. The one downside I see is class size. I think they are currently admitting somewhere between 80 and 100 students per class.

    Bottom line, you've seen what we do, you've researched what it will take to get there. You still want to do it? Do it. I didn't get my BSN until I was 36, and finished CRNA at 41. Yes, it was absolutely worth it.

    Kevin McHugh, CRNA
  5. by   Espresso girl!
    Hi Scott!

    It was nice to see you answering the note I wrote above. It does seem you have had considerable exposure to the nursing world. You have also opened some eyes to the fact that even a nice, fat salaried position can have numerous drawbacks!

    Currently, I am finishing an accelerated BSN program. I will graduate in May. I too am older! I will be the big 4-0 this June. I plan to go to a coronary ICU. I do understand I will have to work the night hours in order to get into this tract. I originally thought about becoming a FNP, but I do love science and can't stand the nursing BS, so I am trying to decide. I am single and this offers some flexibility, but I feel you are fortunate in that you have the support system of a family to see you through this new course.

    Carpe Diem!

    Espresso Girl
  6. by   MK2002
    Scott,

    I live in nearby Dallas, and I have many of the same interests and challenges as you do. I do not have a family, however. Last year I earned about 90K. Accordingly, I am also looking for a career that will both hold my interest and pay well. It is nearly impossible to save for retirement on say 45K. Not that I care to retire, but health issues eventually force one into it.

    During the past couple months I checked out a few Texas nursing schools, including UTA, which I visited. Let me be very clear in warning you that admission to nursing schools is becoming more competitive every day. The word is out about the so-called nursing shortage. UTA had over 600 applicants for their upcoming 100 openings. I found the same ratio at UTH when I visited there recently--over 700 applicants for 144 spaces in the Fall of 2003, and the application period is still open. Until the economy fully recovers and the media stops promoting the artificial nursing shortage, the applicant pool is going to increase. You might as well assume that in the near future the applicant pool will swell to 1,000 candidates for each 100 openings.

    Regarding the MDA vs. CRNA choice, you have to do what interests you more rather than think in terms of time and lost wages. For example, if having the title "doctor" has always meant something to you, then you might feel as if you settled for second best. Which type of work interests you more? Perhaps you don't know at this point in time. Continue researching both careers. You will be in either one a long time, maybe forever. MICU had a good point about being in charge. As a director you are one who is by nature a leader, whether or not you realize it. Keep this in mind.

    You can live off loans, but it can be difficult. For the past 4 years I have recorded my income and most monthly expenses in an Excel spreadsheet. I suggest that you do this also, or use some other application, such as Quicken or MS Money. You really must have an accurate accounting of your cash flow and what can be eliminated from your current budget. It is easy to overlook numerous little expenses when you have a good salary. Example: I love to buy hardcover books. Often I have spent $100 on them month after month. It sure is easy to do when you earn 90K per year. Consider spending an additional year or two at your current job to save money for when you will need it later. Herein is a possible strategy. When the economy recovers and the media moves on to other issues, the nursing school applicant pool will decline. You could time this opportunity by staying at your current job a bit longer. Admission will be less competitive later, and you will have saved more money.

    As others have advised, do not worry about your age. Young people have little idea of where they are going. They cannot imagine having several careers throughout their lifetime. I too am in my 40's. Changing careers at this age might not be easy. But you know very well what risk is about. Like you, I too am tired of being in a career where every day you wonder if it is your last. Which is more risky? Changing careers in middle age or becoming unemployable in middle age?

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