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:
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 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?
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?
How much vacation do you usually start with as a nurse?
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?
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,
Jan 9, '10
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