CCRN looking towards JD

  1. 2
    Greetings Everyone!

    I am currently a practicing CCRN working in a combined ICU (ie, we see it all, from GSWs, to CRRT, to CABGs, to Cranes). I've been working in this unit since I graduated with my BSN about 5 years ago. I initially came to this unit to garner an edge when applying to CRNA school, but I am no longer interested in becoming a nurse anesthetist. This is mainly due to the fact that your patients don't remember you, the 90% boring/10% panic rule, and you have to deal with surgeons on a daily basis. None of those sound appealing to me anymore. I actually went into nursing with the path to CRNA-dom in mind. So, I've hit a bump in the road.

    I have recently started to consider law school. I thought to myself, "maybe I can get to a policy making level", and influence nursing as a whole, instead of only affecting my patients. I grabbed an LSAT book and plan to take the test this October (I will be signing up for the test this week, as August 30th is the deadline). This morning, after my shift, I decided to do a search about the subject and this is what I've found. *crickets*

    I see a lot of JDs getting their RNs. This is worrisome to me, simply because people are turning down six figure positions to become a glorified grunt? This coming from a nurse that does get to make suggestions to the doctors (most nurses don't have that option). Granted, I do well for being a 5 year RN, but I'm not touching 6 figures, and I work night weekend option (one of the highest paid bedside positions, but not the most accomodating).

    I really don't know what I want to do, honestly. I just know it's not what I'm doing, and I'm pretty sure it's not CRNA. The only options I really see for myself at this point are MD and JD. I have a sibling that's a doctor, and I really don't want to go through what they went through... 7 years of hell and a ton of student debt. At least law is 3 years of hell instead! Maybe I should suck it up and become a CRNA for the salary and the freedom?

    At this point I'm just looking for some information from any RNs that have gotten their JD, and if they're happy they did. What types of careers they're in, and would they do it again if they had the choice. I'm interested in the positives and the negatives. Any information is appreciated. I need to figure it out soon, as I'm afraid I'll wind up in the psych wing if not.. (joke... kinda )

    Thanks for your thoughts in advance!
    xenogenetic and lindarn like this.

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  2. 14 Comments...

  3. 7
    Dontknowwhattodo, I am not yet a nurse but as a downsized lawyer now in nursing school I can perhaps offer some perspective on your dilemma. In answer to your question,

    I see a lot of JDs getting their RNs. This is worrisome to me, simply because people are turning down six figure positions to become a glorified grunt? This coming from a nurse that does get to make suggestions to the doctors (most nurses don't have that option). Granted, I do well for being a 5 year RN, but I'm not touching 6 figures, and I work night weekend option (one of the highest paid bedside positions, but not the most accomodating).

    The legal market is terrible nationwide at the moment. While I haven't looked at job postings since deciding to enter nursing school, anecdotal accounts from lawyers I know are bleak. The recession or economic malaise or whatever economists eventually determine we are experiencing now will drive more and more poly sci and liberal arts graduates to law school. I know, I was among them a few years ago! The ABA has taken no action to protect the legal market from an influx of new lawyers from often marginal law schools that squeak by to earn accreditation. There are a lot of desperate law grads out there, and although I graduated from a credible law program with a very solid GPA, I found that the sheer volume of new lawyers made it hard to negotiate anything like the salary law schools would have you believe their grads earn. (By the way, be extremely wary of any employment or salary statistics offered by law schools. They play fast and loose with the numbers, to say the least.) Six figure salary: not in a small or midsize firm away from the coastal areas, that's for sure. Barely more than half that. And young lawyers are grunts, just as much as any nurse. It's just a different class of grunt work.

    That said, I'd love to go back to law. While I hated the demeaning bosses and stress, I loved writing briefs and very much enjoyed court. As superficial as it is, I loved dressing up for work instead of putting on scrubs. Aspects of the job are very satisfying and challenging, and as you mentioned, the combination of a BSN and JD might eventually open some doors to work on health care policy issues, which I agree would be fascinating. Risk management could also be a good option. And :: whispers :: medical malpractice even could hold some promise. In some ways, I hope to end up where you would after law school.

    If you think long and hard about law school and decide to proceed, I wish you only the best. Study hard for the LSAT as it really is important, and choose your law school and the amount of debt you intend to incur very carefully. Working is discouraged in the first year, so be prepared for a significant financial burden as a 1L. I would recommend touring some schools and attending some first year classes. Get a feel for the student body and if you can tolerate your peers. Cliched as it may be, lawyers are an argumentative bunch. Not everyone enjoys that sort of atmosphere. Work on getting real employment data from Career Services at your prospective schools to determine the percentage of the student body that works full time as a lawyer after graduation. They'll count Starbucks in the 90% employed within 6 months after graduation if they can get away with it. And while as an RN, I doubt you'd be stuck at Starbucks, I don't think you'd want to be back as a nurse in three years 100,000 poorer and thinking wasting time getting a law degree was the most expensive life lesson ever. Good luck!
    GrnTea, RNsophia, redhead_NURSE98!, and 4 others like this.
  4. 2
    Just wondering if you went through with applying for law school? I have been a nurse for 16 years (8 in ICU). I was also interested in anestheisa school, but have decided against it. I went as far as starting the app process. Did a lot of shadoing in the OR. Really enjoyed it, but I just don't know if I could do it all day every day. Law has always interested me, but don't want to be a practicing attorney. I found a Master's in Jurisprudence through Loyola-University of Chicago. It's a health law degree. The program is 4th in the nation.
    "Loyola's MJ is an excellent degree for those who wish to work in risk management, corporate compliance, health care technology, quality assurance, and health care mediation but can also lead to other opportunities. Here are a few other jobs our alumni are performing:
    • Healthcare Strategies Consultant, CNA Financial Corporation
    • Manager of Regulatory Affairs, Abbott Laboratories
    • President, Patient Marketing Group, Inc.
    • Regulatory Affairs Product Manager, TAP Pharmaceuticals
    • Regulatory Compliance Consultant, United Healthcare
    • Senior Policy Analyst, Clinical Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, American Medical Association
    • U.S. Benefits Program Manager, Intel Corporation
    • Vice President, Hospital and Community Development, St. Bernard Hospital and Healthcare Center"
    This program sounds right up my alley. Will be applying to start this fall. It's all online except for a couple required campus visits.

    I wish you all the luck.

    Quote from Dontknowwhattodo
    Greetings Everyone!

    I am currently a practicing CCRN working in a combined ICU (ie, we see it all, from GSWs, to CRRT, to CABGs, to Cranes). I've been working in this unit since I graduated with my BSN about 5 years ago. I initially came to this unit to garner an edge when applying to CRNA school, but I am no longer interested in becoming a nurse anesthetist. This is mainly due to the fact that your patients don't remember you, the 90% boring/10% panic rule, and you have to deal with surgeons on a daily basis. None of those sound appealing to me anymore. I actually went into nursing with the path to CRNA-dom in mind. So, I've hit a bump in the road.

    I have recently started to consider law school. I thought to myself, "maybe I can get to a policy making level", and influence nursing as a whole, instead of only affecting my patients. I grabbed an LSAT book and plan to take the test this October (I will be signing up for the test this week, as August 30th is the deadline). This morning, after my shift, I decided to do a search about the subject and this is what I've found. *crickets*

    I see a lot of JDs getting their RNs. This is worrisome to me, simply because people are turning down six figure positions to become a glorified grunt? This coming from a nurse that does get to make suggestions to the doctors (most nurses don't have that option). Granted, I do well for being a 5 year RN, but I'm not touching 6 figures, and I work night weekend option (one of the highest paid bedside positions, but not the most accomodating).

    I really don't know what I want to do, honestly. I just know it's not what I'm doing, and I'm pretty sure it's not CRNA. The only options I really see for myself at this point are MD and JD. I have a sibling that's a doctor, and I really don't want to go through what they went through... 7 years of hell and a ton of student debt. At least law is 3 years of hell instead! Maybe I should suck it up and become a CRNA for the salary and the freedom?

    At this point I'm just looking for some information from any RNs that have gotten their JD, and if they're happy they did. What types of careers they're in, and would they do it again if they had the choice. I'm interested in the positives and the negatives. Any information is appreciated. I need to figure it out soon, as I'm afraid I'll wind up in the psych wing if not.. (joke... kinda )

    Thanks for your thoughts in advance!
    xenogenetic and lindarn like this.
  5. 3
    An aquantence of mine who is an RN in the MICU when to law school at U of This State. She still works as a beside ICU nurse. Apperently she was offered very few jobs and none were the slightest bit interesting to her. In our hospital most nurses with 4-6 year experience make well over $100K not counting overtime so maybe that has something to do with it.
    CRNAs have very high job statisfaction on average. Lawyers don't.
    GrnTea, xenogenetic, and lindarn like this.
  6. 3
    I also was an ICU CCRN that wanted to go to law school. I did. I graduated. The education was brilliant. I also wanted to effect change at the strategic level. The job market for RN lawyers was worse than dismal. The degree has had a profoundly positive impact on the nursing employment choices. I have also given up the ICU and now work on a regional level in government nursing and do work to advance nursing practice and improve patient safety/care. Just not at the bedside level.

    I am glad I went to law school. It was unbelievably difficult. I worked full time nights ICU at the time as well. I would do it again.

    Hope that perspective help.
    GrnTea, KbmRN, and xenogenetic like this.
  7. 3
    I got my RN while in law school through Excelsior (Regent's College back then). I was already an LPN though, because I went to a free program after getting my BA in English Lit. Worked p/t during college as a CNA, b/c I was pre-med for awhile. Working as a LPN helped me pay for law school, and the RN helped me get my first legal job and I ended up practicing almost exclusively on medical malpractice cases. I now focus almost 100% of my practice on divorce/family law at my own firm. Do not go the JD route if you think that all lawyers make the "big bucks". On an hourly basis, I'd say that working as a nurse probably pays just as well if not better than attorneys (overhead and other expenses for own firm, and if working for someone else, insane hours). I for one will not hire a "newbie" attorney and I don't know too many others who are hiring right now. Unless you can get into an excellent law school and go into one of the "hot" fields (e.g., IP), you'll be lucky to get any sort of legal job. I've been an attorney for almost 20 years, and I cannot imagine not being one, but that's b/c I enjoy the work. I've also worked as a nurse, usually on the weekends to keep "sane" and do something "good". To be honest, I could never work full time as a nurse but that's just b/c of my personality. But nursing is and always has been a part of my life. In fact, am working on a MSN right now just b/c it's interesting and I have been toying with the idea of getting my NP after that so that when and if I retire from the law, I can volunteer at a community clinic. Anyway, I've truly appreciated that I've had my RN to fall back on. To address your question re. the positives and negatives of being an attorney. First, some positives: 1) Prestige--people assume certain things about lawyers; true or not (e.g., smart, rich, etc.). 2) Autonomy. 3) Interesting work--never the same day, intellectually stimulating. 4) Most attorneys are interesting people and most try to build up the profession. Second, some negatives: 1) Insanely stressful--you cannot "punch out" at the end of a shift. With autonomy comes ultimate responsibility. 2) Job market is terrible now, and even for someone like me who owns my own practice, the economy has really done a number on the bottom line. 3) Often, especially compared to nursing, the tasks can seem emotionally unrewarding. Most patients are actually grateful and most clients just are not. 4) Some attorneys just ruin it for the rest of us--obnoxious, annoying and some, downright deserving of disbarment.

    Bottom line--if you want to become an attorney b/c you want to affect nursing on the "policy making level", you need run for government office as a politician. Don't need a bar card for that. As to 3 years vs. 4 years of "hell", you'll need to do a residency after med school, so that time horizon is actually longer. BUT, even if one is lucky enough to get hired onto one of the big firms, it usually takes 5-7 years to make partner, so everything is pretty much a wash.

    On a final note, it's much easier to go the law school route as an "older student" versus going to medical school. Good luck to you and if you do end up going to law school, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the experience so don't automatically think it will be "hell". Also, on a final, final note, even now, I still get that little thrill whenever I am inside the court room, whether it's for a quick hearing or a full blown trial...
    GrnTea, xenogenetic, and PMFB-RN like this.
  8. 0
    Quote from catiern
    I got my RN while in law school through Excelsior
    *** While in law school!? Wow, I am impressed.
  9. 0
    I graduated from this program in December. It is a really good program. I think that you will enjoy it. I am still having a problem with finding a job but I hope that things will start to look better in the near future.
  10. 4
    You are seriously misinformed about the state of the legal profession. I implore you to read the following blog and its group of similar sites before going to law school:

    But I Did Everything Right!

    If you think you will get six figures for going to law school, don't go because you most likely will not make that kind of money. Most law school graduates today are unemployed with an unwieldy amount of non-dischargable student debt. To give you an idea of just how bad things are, you should take a look at the person on that site who posted a job listing for lawyers offering them less than the minimum wage in the state...
    GrnTea, Aviationurse, xenogenetic, and 1 other like this.
  11. 2
    Ever considered being a legal nurse consultant? Just another option that combines nursing and law.
    GrnTea and lindarn like this.


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