Second Career

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    Going back to school the second time around proved beneficial for this Exercise Physiologist who hopes to merge the best of both professions.

    About two years ago, I decided to take the leap and go back to school to get my nursing degree. I was already established in my field, but I have always felt that something was missing. So, I applied and was accepted into an Accelerated Program. Being an Exercise Physiologist for over 15 years, this was a huge step for me. Now, I was not only a non-traditional student, but also I was older than several of my classmates, had a family and was working full time. Times had significantly changed in the fitness world since I graduated with my exercise physiology degree. I chose the clinical route for my Master’s Degree, but decided to take the apparently healthy route as a career and apply my clinical knowledge. Several of my former colleagues had taken the clinical route and told me that their clinical roles had changed over the years. As a result, many had also chose to become nurses to compliment their current careers and recommended that I do so as well.

    I have to say going back to school the second time around was much easier. Being an educator myself, I knew what the professor expected of me and “cut to the chase” especially since I had other obligations. As a result, nursing school proved very beneficial for me. After graduation, I resigned my job as Exercise Physiologist and started a new job on a cardiovascular unit. I have no intention of severing my ties from the fitness world, but rather in the future hope to merge the best of both worlds together. I felt that my new degree helped to fill in the gaps where my previous career was lacking. Before, I felt I was very knowledgeable about fitness and assisting clients in achieving a healthy lifestyle, but now I feel that my clinical experience has made me a well rounded professional.

    My goal of going back to school was to find the merger between the nursing and the fitness world. My previous profession challenged me to work with both ends of the Wellness Continuum from the extremely fit athlete to the extremely diseased with the goal of just being able to perform activities of daily living with out fatigue. In either case, exercise proved beneficial. Nursing has further allowed me to help those that are in need, but to also educate them on the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. In my new position, I have already encouraged several of my patients on the importance of positive lifestyle changes and continuing these habits beyond their hospital stay. As a nurse, we are taught that discharge begins upon admission. My hope to is to educate and emphasize healthy lifestyle choices before the patient even is admitted a goal of continuing wellness through a lifetime. I truly enjoy my profession as an Exercise Physiologist and I am enjoying my new career as a Nurse. These two fields benefit each other but sometimes communication is lacking. I hope that in the near future I can be the key to link these two valuable fields together and positively influence people’s lives.
    asowash, dmartin1910, newmusic, and 5 others like this.

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    About taschmidt

    Tina Schmidt-McNulty RN has a BS in Exercise Science, BSN in Nursing and a MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology. She as been involved in the fitness field as an educator, lecturer, instructor and trainer for over 15 years. She currently works as a nurse on a cardiovascular unit at a local hospital. Tina enjoys spending time with her family and exercising in her spare time.

    Joined Mar '11; Posts: 1; Likes: 8.

    Read more articles from taschmidt

    27 Comments so far...

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    Awesome article! I graduated in 2008 with a BS in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. A few of my professors asked me if I ever considered applying into the Master's program. I originally wanted to apply to physical therapy school but had a change in passion right before my senior year fall semester started. I decided to also go into nursing right after I graduated with my BS and completed my nursing degree last year. I am currently working in the ICU and often get frustrated with the non-compliance cases I see at work. I am very active myself as I lift weights, run, and road bike. However, I find it a challenge in encouraging physical fitness/well-being with my patients. No matter how much patient teaching a patient receives, they have to have the self-motivation within to make a real change in their lives. I will not give up though. Good luck to you and kudos! :-)
    dmartin1910 likes this.
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    I am soo glad that you posted your story. It is an inspiration to me. I also am pursuing nursing as a second career. After 25 years providing technical support in the communication industry I am finally getting the opportunity to pursue my true dream career. AT&T decided they wanted all of the support managers to live in Texas, so the job moved without me. Anyway it gives me the opportunity to go to nursing school. I do not have a degree already, so I am in the traditional BSN program. I can relate to your comment about being older than alot of the students, I think I am older than some of the professors . It is really scary for me but I want to stick out. Thanks again for your post, good luck to you in all that you pursue. Hopefully I will get the chance to join the ranks of you and all the good people who's posts I have had the pleasure of reading.:bowingpur
    babblingbrook likes this.
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    Thank you for your article. It confirms my decision to change careers too! I am also in the midst of changing my career from fitness to nursing. I will be attending an accelerated BSN next month and plan to resign from my fitness manager position next week. However, I intend to keep fitness "gigs" here and there and continue to motivate and educate others to move! Exercise is medicine! The fitness industry sure has changed over the last 10 years and I see a degree in nursing as a way to expand my expertise as there are hardly any "apparently healthy" people anymore. We are an unhealthy country --much of it attributed to sedentary lifestyles. I am ecstatic to explore a new career and a new persective in the health industry. Much kudos to you and thanks for the inspiration!
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    Its interesting to me that you all are combining careers. I am a massage therapist and at 50 years old I am back at school getting my BSN. I too hope to be able to merge the two proffesions. So far my interest is swaying toward oncology because cancer patients seem to be more interested in merging alternative and traditional medicine. I am looking forward to the new career and new opportunities and working through my old age.
    Last edit by dianah on Apr 10, '11 : Reason: Terms of Service/off-topic section removed
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    Quote from tammyca1
    Its interesting to me that you all are combining careers. I am a massage therapist and at 50 years old I am back at school getting my BSN. I too hope to be able to merge the two proffesions. So far my interest is swaying toward oncology because cancer patients seem to be more interested in merging alternative and traditional medicine. I am looking forward to the new career and new opportunities and working through my old age.
    This post resonates with me because I am also interested in incorporating alternative medicine such as nutritional and homeopathy with traditional medicine. I have a big interest in homeopathy but am not yet ready to go there. First I am working hard on my chemistry and biology pre-reqs as a foundation. Then develop that further into traditional medicine once I'm in nursing school (god willing!). Once i'm a nurse with a solid traditional foundation I hope to then investigate homeopathy and holistic practices. I am truly fascinated with homeopathy and biofeedback treatment because they actually change harmful behaviors and correct imbalances without pharmaceutical side effects!
    Last edit by dianah on Apr 10, '11
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    Sorry to sound so dismal and cranky here folks, but it must be said. Accelerated nursing programs is a number one reason fewer nurses have jobs right now. Nursing schools are churning out too many new grads at too high a rate. What you have is a field that is oversaturated with nurses. New nurses are carrying high student loan debt and cant find work. Old nurses like me transitioned away from hospital work and SNFs because of the working conditions and found meager wages, prn work and no benefits. Trying to transition back is like climbing the great wall of China. New grads, old grads and middle grads are all have a tough time finding work. I am really not sure there is any benefit to an Accelerated program, other than to race to the front of the job line. I went to a traditional nursing school as a second career, and the traditional program was grueling. I cant imagine what an accelerated program was like. As an aside , I had a Masters Degree in a different field when I entered nursing school, and thought nursing school would be a breeze. Wrong I was. A 3.9 GPA in my Masters degree, but only a 3.4 in Nursing.
    MBARNBSN and trixie333 like this.
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    Let me just add another comment to this thread. I found that my experiences as a brand new nurse are almost exactly the same as they are today. The older , more experienced nurses are not retiring. These are the nurses that are the ones to "precept" new nurses almost all of the time. Instead of being welcomed in as a new nurse, my "newness" to the field was viewed as a threat to the existing staff nurses on my hospital floors. As new grads began to flood the gates, I believe with certainty, most existing staff became fearful for their jobs. True to some extent, more nurses usually means less job security. The more hospitals hired new grads, the greater the threat to the older nurses. This equated to back-biting, eating one's young, and personal sabotage among peers. Every single one of my nursing school colleagues faced this challenge in their new careers. Most never transitioned out of orientation due to the upside- down and backwards way that these orientation programs were set up. Having said that, I think most hospitals have stopped hiring new grads because they dont stay put long enough to justify the high cost of training. This is because the new nurses get de-railed and picked on for stupid things, get discouraged, and leave. It is my hope that one day, retirements will begin to happen, and more doors will open up for new nurses to get a fair shot. Its not happening right now. Think very carefully before you sign loan papers to get into this profession. Sorry if I have offended anyone, or have broken your dreams of being a nurse. I had the same dream, and it turned into a royal nightmare.
    MBARNBSN likes this.
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    My cousin first earned a BSN, then 2 years later went to law school. Now she works for a major corporation that utilized the two professions defending them against medical claims.
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    I really wish I did that


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