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strawberryluv, BSN, RN 6,433 Views

Joined Oct 8, '09 - from 'New Jersey'. Posts: 699 (32% Liked) Likes: 396

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  • Sep 14

    This is not intended to have you question your choices or for me to one-up anyone. I'd like to share the twists and turns on my nursing path.

    At age 22, I graduated with a liberal arts degree. No jobs. At age 25, I entered a highly-respected ASN program at an urban university.

    Failed first-semester A&P (liberal arts backgrounds don't always translate to strong science study skills). Repeated full A&P course the following summer and rematriculated.

    Earned a D+ in Med-Surg III, and my Peds instructor didn't like me. Sat out a year, got a full-time job as a nursing assistant on a Med-Surg unit in an urban hospital. (Pre the days of CNAs).

    Graduated at age 28, a year later than my cohort. Started working Med-Surg; recruited to ICU within 5 months.

    My hospital had full tuition benefits. At age 33, I switched to 12-hour weekend nights, and entered an RN-MSN program at my previous university. Graduated as a CNS at age 36.

    Spent 2 years working off my obligation to my employer who had no CNS position for me to fill.

    At age 38, started full-time PhD study at a highly-ranked research-intensive university; awarded PhD in Nursing at age 44. Began faculty research and teaching role; continued research with elderly ICU survivors.

    Returned to school to pursue a post-master's NP at age 45. Became an NP, in addition to research and teaching role, at age 47. Love my gero patients!

    Married and raised a family during these years.

    The beauty of Nursing is that you often can bend it and shape it to fit your life circumstances. Was it easy - not always. Has it been interesting - yes and yes. Did my family support my continuing quest for increased knowledge to always provide better and better care for patients - yes. Grumbly at times - yes.

    You want to take life by the horns and do your best to make things happen. If you are passive, life will pass you by.

    Nursing, with all its bumps and bruises, is the BEST profession for those who are inquisitive and feel a call to caring.

    Take it from an old-timer. My family has my back. My patients keep me centered, and my students keep me young.

  • Sep 7

    I am just over here trying to figure out where LTC pays more than ICU...

  • Sep 4

    Hi Nurse Beth,

    I am currently in a hospital leadership position but I'm thinking of leaving this position to pursue a clinical career. After being in nursing administration, I'm not sure that this is the best career path for me. I'm sure many people in nursing administration go through these same challenges. I have about 25-30 more years before I retire, so I thought that now might be a good time to switch over. Any thoughts or insight?



    Dear Not Sure of Career Path,

    Thanks for your great question

    I would say....switch.

    The first and primary reason is that you are unsure. When you are doing what you should be doing, you do not generally feel unsure at the core. You may get tired, experience ups and downs, or have disappointments, but overall you are fulfilled and are at peace.

    Being effective and successful in a role (such as leadership) does not necessarily mean it's your destiny. It means you are multi talented. Many leadership skills are transferable to different roles. Your skills, honed during your leadership time, will help you succeed on a new trajectory.

    The second reason is that you do not want to live with regrets. It’s scary to venture into a new career path because there are no guarantees and none of us know the future. But it’s worse to never try than to try and not succeed. Trying and going for it is succeeding.

    You are smart to be aware of and consider the timing in your career. Essentially by switching tracks, you are starting over and you may have a bit of time/ground/finances to make up- but it's all good in that you bring all your experience to the table in whatever career path you choose.

    One of the awesome things about nursing is the incredible amount of options available. Really, the only thing that limits us is ourselves.

    So spread your wings and fly….and be an inspiration to all of us.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

  • Sep 4

    You know it's going to be a bad night when you walk onto the floor and the charge nurse looks at you and says, "OH, THANK GOD YOU ARE HERE."

  • Sep 4

    When you ask who the intensivist is for the night and the day charge says "Dr. Doom!"

  • Sep 4

    Back when I worked the floor, I knew my shift would be a hot mess when a patient would announce, "I am going to die tonight. I am ready to be with the Lord."

    While these patients usually did not die, they almost always experienced a change in condition that could not be handled by the resources on our floor. This caused the night to be horrid.

  • Aug 21

    It was never a calling or childhood dream of mine either. I chose nursing because it was practical -- and because I wanted to have a career that contributed positively to the world. While I wasn't particularly passionate about nursing, I knew I wouldn't be happy doing something that hurt people for a living -- like make cigarettes, or lured people into wasting their money, or was somehow sleazy, etc. I was seeking a career that would be respectable and do good things.

    I also viewed nursing as a flexible career -- with many different possible career paths. I could do direct patient care as a staff nurse, part-time or full time, teach, be an administrator, do research, be an NP, etc. I would have lots of choices -- and as an 18 year old, I was not ready to make a commitment to any one career. I thought that majoring in nursing would be a way to delay that decision, giving me a general field that I could then narrow down as I got older and my needs & preferences developed.

    But while I was not passionate about nursing or "called," -- I was committed to doing a good job and to fulfilling my obligations to the patients, my co-workers, and my employers. I believe that committed is more important for success than the passion or "calling" that some people claim to have.

  • Aug 21

    Nursing was never a passion, childhood dream, or higher calling of mine. I entered the nursing profession as a practical means to an end. It has provided me with the flexibility, stable income, career mobility, and educational advancement I desire.

    As an aside, I was raised by two parents who worked mind-numbing manual labor jobs for a living. Their financial situation was precarious and always on the edge. However, the door to better job opportunities and higher pay had been closed off to them because they had no education beyond a high school diploma.

    Since I grew up without many middle class comforts, I wanted a career pathway that provided stability and a certain standard of living without taking up too much of my personal time. Nursing was the answer.

  • Aug 21

    Job security, a lot of options for advancement, good pay.

  • Aug 21

    In all honesty, with a school that only has 1 class meeting and 1 clinical per week, I'd be concerned about how well they will prepare you. How is their NCLEX pass rate? And are you someone who is going to be self-motivated to teach yourself as needed?

    And, yes, you will be preparing care plans on your patients. There is a lot more to nursing than just following doctors orders. There are times when you need to call the doctor and tell them what your patient needs. And there will be times where you see a doctor's order and need to question it for your patient's safety. The doctor orders it, but you are the last line of defense between the patient and the med/intervention, and you will be liable if you cause that patient harm, even if you were following a dr. order. Critical thinking is imperative.

    As far as care plans, you will probably start out with just one patient per day early on, and then as you progress through the program, that number will increase.

    Good luck!

  • Aug 21

    How hard is nursing school? I think the answer to this question depends on the individual's intellectual aptitude and prior learning experiences.

    Some people to the right of the bell curve will think nursing school is easy, while those to the left of the curve will feel it's the hardest feat they've undertaken.

    Most people in the middle of the curve will be somewhat challenged by the time constraints and new ways of thinking presented in nursing school, and will neither consider it 'easy' nor the 'hardest thing ever.'

  • Aug 16

    So,i am a male nursing assisstant. I am young and started when I was eighteen years old. While I was a teenager, I was always on drugs or drinking, finding some way to escape my boring life of annoying parents. Anyway,i grew up with my mom working in healthcare,i was a stubborn,depressed,anxious guy who grew up around the wrong crowd of people.

    When I turned 16, years old, my parents made me get a job so I started working where my mother worked in a family owned nursing home. I worked in the kitchen and housekeeping literally hating my job but I worked to support my unhealthy habits. Not to get too off topic but I went to juvenile jail and states custody because of underage DUIs ,underage consumption.

    So I turn 18 years old, I'm on top of the world, I literally know everything. I move out of my mom's house and move into a drug dealers house who is friends with my high school friends. I get fired from my job. I'm at rock bottom so I start selling drugs for a while, then I become desperate and call the owner of the nursing home, she tells me I can come back to work after I take a drug test and take CNA classes. From there I am homeless for about a month, I finally decide my mom's house isn't so bad. I decide it's time to stop smoking pot and popping pills and I buzz my hair off. After all of this I give my life to the Lord and put my everything in being this nursing assistant which just seems like the craziest job.

    As a new employee in this field, I started out on the Alzheimer's hallway which i felt more comfortable on.I started praying alot and realizing how fulfilling it is to take are of people who can't take care of themselves. It started to make me realize how good I really have it. As about two years go by I come very close friends with alot of coworkers but I still feel very different. It's not like in feel better than everybody but I feel like I can't let my body rest unless my patients are given PERFECT care. I struggle with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder also.

    By the time I turn 20, I'm becoming not a good but a great CNA. I literally am putting everything into this job. I feel guilty about everything bad I've done and I feel like this job is me giving back to God for the stupid things I have done in life.I am 21 now and I work up to 14 hours,sometimes 16 hours five days a week.i wake up at four o'clock in the morning and have almost all patients in their right mind. I have to say it has literally changed my life completely, at the moment I am not even worried about college. I am obsessed with giving my patients the best care possible. I stay up thinking about what I can do differently to make their life more enjoyable while spending their retirement home in what I like to call a retirement prison. Imagine spending your golden years being asked if you have used the bathroom on yourself. It is just so sad.What I'm trying to say is being in the healthcare field has literally changed my life and turned me into a Christian. Seeing dying people praying kind of changes the way I think about things.

    Any starting CNA who reads this, just know this job is not for everyone. If you love to take care of someone more than yourself,if you will risk your own health to help others stay healthy. If you love to see someone smile just because your taking care of them or if you have a family member say they don't have to worry because you'll be taking care of their mother or father, than you are made fore the healthcare field. I hope someone reads this and gets inspired. I know I wouldn't have gotten my faith back with this job.

  • Aug 14

    Hi
    Burnt out and bummed out;
    plz man up and smell the roses...
    that is why nursing is a four letter word, like ****,****; etc...
    Nursing is WORK, that is why WORK is a four letter word.

    It is damn hard, it is demanding, it hits your beliefs, ethics and stamina right in the gut...

    Why not run away; go shuffle money in a bank or count paperclips in some office somewhere???

    At least in Nursing you can make a small difference, instead of no difference at all...

    So man up and put your apron on and get back to the kitchen or stop your whining and drop out.

    Your so lucky; your glass is half full (of opportunities); travel, meet different people in different places...

    Put some money aside and go rent a shack in Puerto Rico or Fiji for two weeks and sit with your toes in the Atlantic or Pacific...

    Cannot afford to do things like that then work to modify your finances so you can work hard and then time out to relax and recharge your batteries...

    Whatever you can now re-invent yourself every year or two and work in any one of a hundred different nursing fields, but regardless just remember there are literally thousands of people standing behind you with a big knife just itching for the opportunity to stick you in the kidney to take and use the luck and opportunities you have right in your hand already...

    Now man up and stop your sniveling; have a mental health break and recharge your batteries and get back into life...

    Good Luck and thank you for being a part of the worlds most trusted and loved profession...

  • Aug 3

    I've seen this story told so many times on here where a personality mismatch with a preceptor has cost someone his or her job. The solution is ever so simple: kiss your preceptor's ass until you are free of his or her grasp.

    So many new graduates learn the technical ABC's of things that they forget they are working with people.

  • Aug 2

    Ever since I was introduced to the field of Nurse Anesthesia in High School at the age of 16 I made it my mission to pursue it as a career. I always knew I wanted to be a nurse but I was specifically drawn to the excitement of not only being a nurse, but a highly skilled and independent nurse. I planned out my journey step by step, year by year. I presumed I would simply go through the motions in my rock-solid plan and emerge as a CRNA. Boy was I wrong.

    I am now 24 years old and will begin a Nurse Anesthesia Program next month. A couple weeks after I sent my enrollment letter and the dust had settled I began to ponder over the last eight years. As I reminisced about the hundreds of people I’ve met and the amazing experiences I have had, my heart was filled with warmth. I realized that my journey had changed me as a human being and shaped me into a confident, knowledgeable, and highly respected professional nurse. The funny thing is, I only realized this recently. I finally took a step back and saw how significant my responsibilities were and how much of a difference I was making all along.

    I remember talking to one of my nursing professors a couple years after graduating and I said something along the lines of: “I’ve been really lucky to get where I am.” Her response was: “isn’t it funny how the ones who work the hardest keep getting luckier.” At the time I attributed the ‘work hard’ part to the fact that I had created a career plan and stuck by it. Yes, that may have a small part to do with where I am but after seeing many specialty-focused colleagues trample through I now believe it is something deeper.

    I began at an assisted living community at the age of 17 where I quickly took a liking to the elderly population. Inspiring stories of their lives poured out with every interaction, humor was a commonplace and I quickly became a shining star as I had a sense of humor that was refreshing and real. Many widows jokingly called me their boyfriend; I held the hands of lonely residents who hadn’t seen their families in forever; I provided their daily cocktail of medications and encouraged them to stay active and healthy; I got beat-up many times by dementia patients who saw me as a threat; and performed the Heimlich maneuver on one of my closest residents who later relied on me for support after her husband passed away. I think I related so well to the elderly population because of my close relationship with my grandmother, who died over a period of two-years as a result of a rare nervous system disease.

    Meanwhile, I completed all of my nursing prerequisites in High School and was accepted to a very competitive Associate Degree Nursing Program. Throughout my nursing education I excelled in my studies and often tutored those who were struggling. I did excellent in clinical thanks to preparation, hard work, and passion. In my first semester of nursing school I landed a Float CNA position at a Hospital where I quickly became known for my tremendous work ethic and kind personality. After graduating nursing school, I had many managers request my application to their floor and I had the luxury of being able to choose. I then spent 6 months on a Medical-Surgical unit, quickly rising to the top of the pack and receiving many accolades for my work ethic, leadership skills, and the excellent care I provided. I remember getting a letter and award (which I later found out was normally reserved for those with many years on the job) from the SVP of Nursing who commended me for a job well done after he had received numerous patient letters mailed directly to him. Of course, at the time I just thought it was kind of cool.

    One day my manager mentioned that I really belong in the ICU, and that gave me the confidence to continue. I attempted to apply locally but wasn’t even able to upload a resume without a Bachelor’s Degree – which I was finishing up online. So I expanded my search and set my sights on a couple of excellent hospitals. I flew out and interviewed for an ICU Internship at a large University Health System and was accepted the next day. As I was preparing to move, lo and behold an ICU internship at my own hospital was rebooted so I leapt on that opportunity and was accepted to the CVICU. They told me that these internship spots were usually given to those with more experience but they were willing to give me a chance because of my “confidence, knowledge, and glowing recommendations.”

    In the CVICU I started out slow and quickly progressed to the sickest patients on the unit. I would end up relating many situations to my experiences of having a younger brother battle bone cancer, and my aunt – who was my second mom while my mother basically lived in the hospital – dying in a tragic accident. I truly began to understand how precious life is. I excelled in every aspect of this role and began receiving more responsibilities including precepting and committee work.

    After about a year and a half I felt confident as an ICU nurse and applied to my top five Nurse Anesthesia programs. I was granted interviews at all five programs and I ended up interviewing at four of them; I was accepted to two and waitlisted to two. The programs where I was waitlisted eventually had a spot open up. This granted me the “problem” of having to choose between 4 highly regarded programs.

    When I began thinking back I saw how everything was connected. I noticed a simple pattern from day one that explained everything: I showed up each and every day with a smile on my face and a genuine desire to help others. I respected and built professional relationships with each and every one of my colleagues – whether they were a CNA, nurse, Doctor, cook, housekeeper, receptionist, Manager, Instructor, or Dean. This resulted in various awards/recognition and great letters of recommendations which allowed me to pursue amazing opportunities. My reputation was built by working hard and always finding other ways to help out. It helped that I was never one for politics or gossip but knew when to laugh and have fun. I was a team player and encouraged others to be their best. I made an effort to expand my own clinical knowledge and gave back by mentoring those in need. And most importantly, I pulled from my own past experiences to empathize and support my patients while at the same time growing stronger from their strength. This gave me a humbling confidence as well as experiences to draw from for interviews - which are vital.

    You see, every single step I took was a natural progression of opening doors, NOT a checkbox on my list. And although I want to thank my 16-year-old self for starting me out on this path, I never could’ve imagined how this journey would have such a profound impact on my life. I feel truly blessed and also believe there is a higher power that played a role as well.

    After thinking about all of this, I have come to the conclusion that the pathway to getting the most happiness and success out of one’s nursing career relies on your own intentions and genuine desire to care for every patient at the best AND worst times in their lives. Whatever your ambitions are – if you aim to specialize in a certain area such as Anesthesia, become a nursing professor, a CNO, or stay at the bedside, please remember this: although there are necessary steps to get through to achieve your nursing career goals, you must always be cognizant of the fact that what you are doing today whether big or small in your own view, matters a lot. It matters to you so be content and slow down to smell the roses, it matters to your coworkers who deserve a solid individual committed to the team, and most importantly it matters to your patients. A patient on their death bed isn’t going to be impressed with your aspirations, they instead deserve somebody who is in the moment. A respectful, strong patient advocate with the capacity for empathy. A nurse who understands that life is fragile and although it may be a regular ol’ day for you, it is perhaps the worst day of your patient’s life.

    And of course my journey wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, nor is it over! But this article’s purpose is to hopefully help those who are just starting their story, those struggling with where they are, or those possibly taking their current position for granted. I hope my reflections will inspire you to be the best you can be and encourage you to put 100% of your energy into the here and now – because the rest will truly follow.


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