Am I Making a Horrendous Mistake Choosing Nursing?

  1. HI Nurse Beth,

    I'm wondering if I'm making a horrendous mistake by choosing nursing.

    It's not something I've always wanted to do.

    I'm a career changer who previously worked in environmental restoration first and animal care second. I got a horrendous number of injuries (multiple dislocated ribs and concussions being the worst) and found jobs difficult to come by in the first field; the second didn't pay well enough for me to be able to save anything, and I didn't feel like I was having a positive impact on the world.

    I chose nursing because I am good at and interested in biology, I like being useful/helping, and it seemed to have a good combination of availability of jobs, financial stability, and not having to go into debt for schooling. I was thinking of the OR, scrubbing specifically, because I'm team-oriented, task-oriented, and self-motivated (self-starter and I don't need praise).

    However, I have Aspergers and sometimes people's emotional needs utterly baffle me. I'm excellent in school (4.0 GPA, 96 on TEAS) and can learn tasks (gave insulin to pets, did construction demo), but I also have anxiety and Type II Bipolar. Those are mostly under control, but actually seem to be getting worse as I get older, so I kind of expect they'll continue to add challenges, rather than "clearing up."

    Would I still be shooting myself in the foot to go into nursing? I start a CNA job two days hence; should I use that as a measure of whether nursing would be a good fit? Would a medical profession like MA-Phlebotomist be better?

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    Dear Am I Making a Horrendous Mistake,

    Thanks for your question.

    Yes, working as a CNA should help give you insight into the amount of socializing and communicating required. It may prove to be an overwhelming demand for you.

    If you decide to go to nursing school, watch the students around you to learn how they respond to patients. You may not have the feelings, but you can mimic the actions. It will take a lot of energy on your part.

    Once you have completed school, you would need to gain some experience and then consider the specialty best suited for you. Nursing informatics does not require high empathy and is interesting. OR is a good setting as well because it has lower patient interaction but requires highly skilled people.

    I remember a new grad nurse who just didn’t fit in on the general Med Surg floor. Why? He was technically excellent but didn’t relate well to patients, meaning he did not make eye contact, display empathy, or make small talk.

    He went on to become a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist (CRNA) and has succeeded wonderfully.

    Recently I had surgery and he is the CRNA I requested- as do many of the nurses where I work. He is skilled.

    You asked about Medical Assistant (MA) or phlebotomist.Those are options, yes, but neither pays nearly as much as nursing.

    If not nursing, have you ever done an aptitude test to help find the ideal field for you? If your anxiety is work related perhaps it can be mitigated by technical, skilled work in a structured setting with low social interaction.

    I hope you will keep us posted with your thoughts.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,319; Likes: 3,956


  3. by   TheCommuter
    Although I do not have Asperger's, I am an introvert with a very reserved personality. I do not relate well with coworkers' social needs for validation and belonging, nor do I enjoy easing patients' and families' fears. Human nature makes me scratch my head.

    I will never be fond of meeting new people. However, I had enough of a repertoire of social skills to play the game during my 10 years as a floor nurse. Though I disliked mingling, I could convincingly pretend as if I did. This was my saving grace.

    Nowadays I work from home as an RN case manager for an insurance company. This job is perfect since it enables me to be on the computer instead of devoting face time with patients and family members. However, I spent nearly 10 years in the trenches (a.k.a. direct patient care on the floor) before landing this dream gig.

    Good luck to you.
  4. by   kristier
    My first response was an overwhelming NO you should not get into nursing, but I agree with Beth. You would definitely do well in the program, as testing is about 80% of your grades. The clinical portion of the program is pass/fail and if you are technically proficient and can stay calm and focused, you'll do fine. Informatics is an excellent idea. I'm not sure about the CRNA idea because patients want all of their caregivers to be personable. I'm excited to hear how you like being a CNA, although keep in mind that CNAs are the front line of patient care, so even if you don't do well there, nursing is still a possibility. Please let us know what happens!
  5. by   thetalker
    My first impression was, become a veterinarian or vet assistant.

    Be well
  6. by   BeenThere2012
    Beth...I think you gave excellent advice. I can't think of anymore to add.
  7. by   rachel100639
    Sounds like she would do well in research.
  8. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from kristier
    I'm not sure about the CRNA idea because patients want all of their caregivers to be personable.
    Then again, CRNAs can get away with not being the most personable clinicians because they typically spend no more than a few minutes talking to patients before the effects of the anesthesia kick in.

    Hence, I think Nurse Beth's CRNA idea was outstanding.
  9. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from BeenThere2012
    Beth...I think you gave excellent advice. I can't think of anymore to add.
    Thank you kindly!
  10. by   OHNBJL
    A girl in my daughters high school class has Aspergers and went to college and attained her BSN. She went on to do clinical research and is very successful. She lacked some social skills so she made a wonderful researcher. Very intelligent and task oriented. She is very happy with her job knowing that she is helping others.
  11. by   PACU-LVN
    If you want to scrub in the OR, why not go to school to become a Certified Scrub Tech? They make pretty good money, but you are on your feet all day and the surgeons can be "difficult" at times. But it's an interesting job and the OR can be fun! Good luck!