The Concerns of My Loving Wife

  1. 1
    Hello everyone,

    I guess I should start by saying, 10 months ago my wife and I had two beautiful, healthy baby boys. In the time before and after their birth, we spent a reasonable amount of time (more time than I have ever spent before) in the hospital taking classes and recovering afterward. During that time, while being given a tour of the NICU, I mentioned briefly to my wife that I would love to work in the hospital helping people instead of doing what I do now. We both talked about what a difficult job it would be (stress-wise, emotionally, physically) and that was as far as the conversation went.

    One week ago I told my wife that I was unhappy with my current career path, and that I wanted to do something more valuable and meaningful with my life, "like being a lawyer, or a doctor". She told me that she didn't think I had the personality of a lawyer, but that she could see me as a doctor. I'm sure that she regrets saying that now. I immediately got on the internet and started looking into medical school requirements and what it took to become a doctor. While reading, I happened upon an article on howstuffworks.com written by Dr. Carl Bianco, M.D., an Emergency Physician who received his undergraduate degree in nursing and pre-med. I had never thought of getting a degree in nursing or becoming an RN until that point, but it made sense to me that nursing was a great place to start a career in health care. Everything I've read since then has only reaffirmed that nursing seems like the right choice for me, and that from there I can grow and move into other positions (whether that means completing my pre-med and going into medical school, or not).

    All of this, however, has my wife very concerned. We have been discussing/arguing the pros and cons of the profession and what it would mean for our family ever since. I am hoping that you might be able to answer some of my wife's concerns so that we have a more realistic idea of what I may be getting us into. Here are some of the things that have come up in our conversations:

    1. My wife is primarily concerned that nurses work very crazy hours (lots of overtime) and because of this, they do not get to see their spouses and children on any regular basis. I have read on a couple places (including on this forum) that most nurses working at hospitals usually work three 12-hour shifts a week (I am interested in working in ER/trauma, OB, ICU, or OR). Can anyone elaborate on what their work schedule is like? Does your shift change often? Do you work the same days every week? Is there a lot of mandatory overtime?

    2. I have read that some nurses may be on call. To what extent are most nurses on call? I have read about the shortage in staffing for nurses. Does this happen often?

    3. My wife is afraid that I will not get to spend any holidays with the family if I become a nurse. I have read that nurses are required to work holidays (which makes sense). How are holidays usually scheduled in hospitals? Is this seniority based?

    4. How much vacation do you usually start with as a nurse?

    5. Another concern of my wife's is that I will constantly be around sick individuals who may have infectious diseases/viruses. I personally don't feel as worried about this, because I am sure there are many precautions taken and many preventative measures in place to keep hospital staff safe and healthy. Do any of you get sick more often due to your work?

    6. Finally, we are concerned about the cost of my nursing education. At present, I am looking into a CCNE accredited BSN program at my local state university. After looking at the curriculum, I would still have about one year's worth of prerequisites to complete before I could apply to the clinical portion of the program. I am meeting an adviser to ask more questions in a couple weeks. What types of additional costs/fees should I expect while going through nursing school?

    I keep telling myself that the negatives of the job would be manageable when considering the good I would be doing. But, I also have to consider my family and how important they are to me. I realize this is a very long post and I want to thank those of you who have read this far. Thank you for any assistance you can give us in making this very important decision.

    Thank you again,
    JohnWatson
    BeenOff likes this.
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  3. 19 Comments so far...

  4. 6
    Quote from JohnWatson
    1. My wife is primarily concerned that nurses work very crazy hours (lots of overtime) and because of this, they do not get to see their spouses and children on any regular basis. I have read on a couple places (including on this forum) that most nurses working at hospitals usually work three 12-hour shifts a week (I am interested in working in ER/trauma, OB, ICU, or OR). Can anyone elaborate on what their work schedule is like? Does your shift change often? Do you work the same days every week? Is there a lot of mandatory overtime?
    I've been a nurse for 2 years. I work the night shift - there have been opportunities to switch to dayshift, but I like working night shift, so that's what I do - 7pm to 7:30am. I work 3 nights per week - no mandatory overtime where I work. Our days can change week to week - we're required to work two weekends per 4-week schedule. I tend to work Wed/Thu/Fri nights every week to satisfy that requirement.

    Quote from JohnWatson
    2. I have read that some nurses may be on call. To what extent are most nurses on call? I have read about the shortage in staffing for nurses. Does this happen often?
    The only staff nurses I can think of that would have to take any amount of call would be those working in the OR or cath lab. A nurse in the ICU, like me, isn't on call.

    Quote from JohnWatson
    3. My wife is afraid that I will not get to spend any holidays with the family if I become a nurse. I have read that nurses are required to work holidays (which makes sense). How are holidays usually scheduled in hospitals? Is this seniority based?
    Both of the hospitals I've worked at bid for holidays. For example - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, we mark which one we're willing to work, which one we want off, and our 2nd choice for having off. This year I worked Thanksgiving night and had Christmas and New Year's off.

    Quote from JohnWatson
    4. How much vacation do you usually start with as a nurse?
    I accrue vacation at about 7hrs per pay period. Working 3 days per week, you don't have to use much. For example, I can request to work a Sun/Mon/Tue one week and Thu/Fri/Sat the following week and have 8 days off straight without using any vacation time.

    Quote from JohnWatson
    5. Another concern of my wife's is that I will constantly be around sick individuals who may have infectious diseases/viruses. I personally don't feel as worried about this, because I am sure there are many precautions taken and many preventative measures in place to keep hospital staff safe and healthy. Do any of you get sick more often due to your work?
    Dude, I have antibodies to EVERYTHING now...lol Seriously, though, since I've been a nurse I have not gotten sick more often than I had prior to being a nurse. Standard precautions are always in place and there are isolation procedures for handling patients who have certain infectious conditions.

    Quote from JohnWatson
    6. Finally, we are concerned about the cost of my nursing education. At present, I am looking into a CCNE accredited BSN program at my local state university. After looking at the curriculum, I would still have about one year's worth of prerequisites to complete before I could apply to the clinical portion of the program. I am meeting an adviser to ask more questions in a couple weeks. What types of additional costs/fees should I expect while going through nursing school?
    Books, immunizations, uniforms, tuition, supplies. I went to a state university and received a lot of financial aid which covered the cost of my schooling. I went as an older, non-traditional student (I was 29 when I graduated), and I think that helped me qualify for certain grants and scholarships. There are many loan options available. I took loans to pay for my mortgage while I was in school since I didn't work throughout nursing school.

    Quote from JohnWatson
    I keep telling myself that the negatives of the job would be manageable when considering the good I would be doing. But, I also have to consider my family and how important they are to me. I realize this is a very long post and I want to thank those of you who have read this far. Thank you for any assistance you can give us in making this very important decision.
    It will require dedication and a lot of hard work to get there, but in my experience the positives far outweigh the negatives. I love my job! I love all the time I DON'T have to work even more!

    Best of luck to you!
  5. 1
    Reno is right about everything said. I am an ED nurse and do not have to take call. We are offered OT a lot and it's a great way to make extra $$. One extra shift is double what a minimum wager makes in a week. As for holidays, at my place, we are all separated into two groups. Group 1 works scheduled holidays, and group 2 has their holidays. For instance, I am a group 2, so this year, I had off Thanksgiving, but worked Christmas day and New years. Next year, I will work Thanksgiving and off the others. Usually if you work the actual day, you get the day before off. As for nursing before med school, ummm I'm just not so sure about it if you want to become an MD. While ppl think we all learn the same thing, dr's are just higher educated, that's not so much the case. Nurses learn on a nursing model, accd to the nursing process treating the person, doctors learn on a medical model, which treat the disease.
    As far as schooling goes, I recommend going to a community college then bridging to a BSN if that's what you so desire. In my facility, if you have two nurses, in the same position, the BSN makes only $0.50 more/hr. Community college is a much more cost effective way to go, and most of the class will be older adults on a second or even third career. You won't have nearly as many prereqs to get, and after you graduate, you can always do an RN to BSN bridge online. Just some ideas... Good luck to you. Nursing is a very rewarding career.
    want to do good 86 likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from JohnWatson

    1. My wife is primarily concerned that nurses work very crazy hours (lots of overtime) and because of this, they do not get to see their spouses and children on any regular basis. I have read on a couple places (including on this forum) that most nurses working at hospitals usually work three 12-hour shifts a week (I am interested in working in ER/trauma, OB, ICU, or OR). Can anyone elaborate on what their work schedule is like? Does your shift change often? Do you work the same days every week? Is there a lot of mandatory overtime?
    I work 8 hour shifts. My facility discourages overtime, so I hardly ever get it. Our schedules are on two week repeating cycles. For example, one might work 3 on, 2 off, 4 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off. This cycle repeats over and over, so that you have a predictable schedule. We have to work every other weekend.

    2. I have read that some nurses may be on call. To what extent are most nurses on call? I have read about the shortage in staffing for nurses. Does this happen often?
    I've never been on call. Sometimes the staffing office will call on my day off to see if I can come in and work, but if I don't feel like working, I just don't answer the phone. If I feel like working, I pick up and tell them I'll come in. We are not required to come in on our days off, and often they will offer on call pay as an enticement, even though we are not really on call.

    3. My wife is afraid that I will not get to spend any holidays with the family if I become a nurse. I have read that nurses are required to work holidays (which makes sense). How are holidays usually scheduled in hospitals? Is this seniority based?
    You will have to work some holidays. At my facility, we are not required to work every holiday. Our union contract requires that each unit develop an equitable policy for determining holiday rotations. Typically, it goes something like, work Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve but have Christmas and New Year's Eve off. Then the next year, you would work the opposite. At my facility, it is not seniority based. Everybody rotates.

    4. How much vacation do you usually start with as a nurse?
    We earn a percentage of an hour for each hour we work. This is called "Paid Time Off" and it goes into a bank. You use your PTO for vacations, for sick days, and if you get called off for low census, you can choose to take PTO or not.

    5. Another concern of my wife's is that I will constantly be around sick individuals who may have infectious diseases/viruses. I personally don't feel as worried about this, because I am sure there are many precautions taken and many preventative measures in place to keep hospital staff safe and healthy. Do any of you get sick more often due to your work?
    We use "transmission based precautions" to protect ourselves and our other patients. Of course, proper hand hygiene is the single most important thing you can do. Vaccinations are also made available to staff members. I get my seasonal flu shot every year at work, at no cost to me, and this year I got the H1N1 vaccine, again at no cost to me. I personally do not get sick any more often because of my job. I am constantly washing and gelling, and probably get sick *less* often than when I worked in a non-healthcare related field.

    6. Finally, we are concerned about the cost of my nursing education. At present, I am looking into a CCNE accredited BSN program at my local state university. After looking at the curriculum, I would still have about one year's worth of prerequisites to complete before I could apply to the clinical portion of the program. I am meeting an adviser to ask more questions in a couple weeks. What types of additional costs/fees should I expect while going through nursing school?
    I worked, took out student loans, and received tuition assistance from my employer, and still I was barely making it. Now that I'm working as an RN, I'm certainly not wealthy and I do have student loan payments, but I do not have to worry about not being able to pay my mortgage.
  7. 1
    John,

    I too completed nursing school with two young children and a husband. I too went into nursing after having a career in a different field that I didn't enjoy. My husband was supportive of the idea of me going back to school for nursing simply because it would offer me the same salary I was making in my previous career (possibly more with the ability of doing overtime). However nursing school is very difficult, especially when you have a family. I think the school portion will take more of your family time then the actual nursing career itself. Its very important to have the support of your significant other and family before starting a nursing program. Without this support it will be very difficult to get through the program. I suggest you continue to discuss this with your wife until you both can get on the same page. Try to meet and talk to nurses so that she can get an idea of how it really is.

    There are many advantages to being a nurse when you are married with children, especially young children. There are so many shifts to choose from, allowing you the flexibility to work it around your wife's schedule. I don't have to put my children in daycare because i work 3 12hr night shifts and my husband works 5 days a week mon-fri. the only difficult part about this scenario is that we don't get to sleep together 3 nights out the week, but it saves us a lot of money.

    Most of the hospitals I worked for schedule you for every other holiday and it switches to the holiday you had off the previous year for the next year. Most hospitals will make nurses work either every other weekend or every third weekend. there are also options to work weekends only, and usually nurses who do this can make from 5-10 dollars more per hour for doing this option. A career in nursing can definately bring positives and negatives to your relationship, but if you are truly unhappy in your career, I would hope that your wife would just be understanding to that alone and support you in your endeavours. My husband and I have had our rough bouts but if you really love and support each other, the career change can really be something great.

    I would say due to your family situation try to complete the quickest and cheapest option possible. If you can get into an ADN program right away, go for it. Those are the cheapest programs, and you can get your BSN online later. Most employers will cover some or all of the cost for you to go back to get your BSN.

    Whatever you decide nursing won't nearly be as stressful as going for MD so perhaps this is a good compromise for you and your wife. Good luck!
    Last edit by LeLeeFNP on Jan 9, '10 : Reason: typos
    BeenOff likes this.
  8. 1
    You've received alot of good advice. I will just add that you should not go into nursing with the expectation of it being a stepping-stone to your MD. If you want to be a doctor, go for that now.

    If money is an issue for your schooling, consider going the ASN route and get your RN. Then you can work while you finish your BSN.
    Coloradogrl likes this.
  9. 0
    Does your wife work outside of the home? Her work schedule would need to be taken into account due to child care and holidays.

    otessa
  10. 0
    I agree that you need the full support of your family to make school and the clinicals that come with school to occur-you will have more than enough stress with school, stress at home will make everything unbearable. You need to hear your wife out and list the pros and cons. I am in my 2nd to last class of an MSN program-without the support of my family I would never even started the journey. I also have twins but they were 4 years old when I started back to school. The first 3-4 years of parenting twins is exhausting.

    otessa
  11. 0
    One thing I'd add is that once in a nursing program, it's hard to pigeon-hole how much time you should allot. Nursing programs are basically full of a lot of changes, misinformation etc. You will often need to drop and do something unplanned. Yes, most of it is due to disorganization on their part. This can be difficult on family and yourself as both of you will tire of it.

    However if your previous career was one in which you usually were able to anticipate and prep (ability to control your environment), nursing school will change that, which is necessary. You will not be able to have any idea what you are walking into when you are a nurse in most cases. Start envisioning this now.
  12. 0
    Hello,

    Nursing school was the hardest as I did the CNA, LPN, ADN and now am working on the BSN. I would have went straight for my ADN if I had thought about it. That was way the hardest work I have ever did.

    I do not have call but can be mandated. Goes on senority down the list. I may get asked to do over time for the bus (prison - new group of inmates)

    We selected our holidays to work. Includes nurses and NPs. So I do not work as many.

    I work for the federal governmen. Retire after 20 years.

    I do not get as sick as I use good handwashing and eat health.

    Have fun and consider further training as a Nurse, Nurse Practioner, etc.


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