2nd career nurses: Are you glad you switched to nursing?

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    I am a new R.N., after having spent 10 years in a totally different field (journalism/writing). Now, I find myself longing for the good old days of editing, when I was really confident in what I was doing. Now, as a new nurse, I'm constantly stressed, tired (I work the night shift), anxious about work. I hate being a newbie and not feeling 100% confident in my skills and abilities. I hate that the realities of nursing do not match up with the ideals of nursing.

    I wanted to be a nurse so I could help people, "touch people's lives" - but usually feel like I'm too busy running around trying to keep up with everything to do this.

    I wanted to be a nurse in part because I wanted a more flexible schedule that worked better with being a mom - but I'm drained from the night shift and outside of work, have tons of continuing ed modules to keep up with, not to mention reading up on the things I'm still learning about.

    On a more superficial note, I also long for the days when I could casually sip a cup of coffee while working, wear smart-looking clothes that didn't feel like frumpy pajamas, wear jewelry and paint my nails if I wanted to, wear my hair down, go out for lunch with coworkers and sit outside in the sun for a while instead of cramming down lunch in a dank staff lounge with no windows...

    I wanted to be a nurse because I thought it would be more fulfilling...but instead find that it's DRAINING everything out of me...

    Are there any other 2nd career nurses out there who are new to the job and wondering if they should have just stuck with career #1???
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  4. 0
    Dear Karen,
    It doesn't get any better. I have been an RN for over 14 years and my workload has increased so much more, especially in the last 2 years. I have seen dramatic increases in patient loads. Where I work now it is not uncommon to have 8 to 9 patients on the evening shift. I can have a total of about 20 since on one 8 hour shift, they switch our assignments about every 4 hours. That's charting and assessments, including meds and treatments, etc., on SIXTEEN TO TWENTY patients!! Plus we have to deal with the Pyxis Machine for all our meds and when they aren't there, we have to get them from the pharmacy after numerous phone calls each shift.
    It used to be 5 patients on the evening shift and no more than that with NO switching of the assignments every 4 hours. I am very overworked and tired all the time as well and it has me worried. I am certain that if I keep going on like this, I am going to develop hypertension.
    You are VERY fortunate that you have a second field, journalism/writing that you can fall back on....I have strongly considered going back to University to pick up another degree so that I will have something else to fall back on because I am quite stressed because of my job. Career number one is nursing, and career number two is writing. I have written and published one book so far and would like to keep publishing more, however, I am very tired these days and just can't seem to get myself to the library anymore....well, I suppose that things could be worse, but for now, I am going to just hang in there and make some plans for my future while keeping a positive attitude.

    Quote from KarenAR
    I am a new R.N., after having spent 10 years in a totally different field (journalism/writing). Now, I find myself longing for the good old days of editing, when I was really confident in what I was doing. Now, as a new nurse, I'm constantly stressed, tired (I work the night shift), anxious about work. I hate being a newbie and not feeling 100% confident in my skills and abilities. I hate that the realities of nursing do not match up with the ideals of nursing.

    I wanted to be a nurse so I could help people, "touch people's lives" - but usually feel like I'm too busy running around trying to keep up with everything to do this.

    I wanted to be a nurse in part because I wanted a more flexible schedule that worked better with being a mom - but I'm drained from the night shift and outside of work, have tons of continuing ed modules to keep up with, not to mention reading up on the things I'm still learning about.

    On a more superficial note, I also long for the days when I could casually sip a cup of coffee while working, wear smart-looking clothes that didn't feel like frumpy pajamas, wear jewelry and paint my nails if I wanted to, wear my hair down, go out for lunch with coworkers and sit outside in the sun for a while instead of cramming down lunch in a dank staff lounge with no windows...

    I wanted to be a nurse because I thought it would be more fulfilling...but instead find that it's DRAINING everything out of me...

    Are there any other 2nd career nurses out there who are new to the job and wondering if they should have just stuck with career #1???
  5. 0
    "I wanted to be a nurse so I could help people, "touch people's lives" - but usually feel like I'm too busy running around trying to keep up with everything to do this."

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with the post just above. I've been an RN for 13 years, and each year there is less time for patients/clients and less time to even care (and less respect for RNs by administrations).

    Perhaps you could combine nursing with your previous career and write some accurate stories (a syndicated column?) about what is REALLLY going on these days in health care. No doubt some of the posters on this BB would let you use theirs. Echo Heron would be a good model to start with.
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    I am a 18 year career change RN, after a primary career as a juvenile probation officer. I got my BSN through an accelerated program when I was 31.

    Am I glad? Yes I am, Nursing has provided me with astonishing career flexibility. My first career was tied to a residency requirement. There were a lot of surprises in nursing. I went from a career of mostly men to one almost entirely female. I was unprepared for the constant non-stop need to cover maternity leaves and sick kid calls. I didn't realize how fast hospital nursing would wear out my joints. I'd never been a job hopper before and I found myself in 5 different specialties in my first 10 years in nursing.

    I did end up in a community health RN role that I love. Even though changing careers to nursing worked for me, I rarely advise it to others unless they have thought it through. I always recommend that anyone interested take a job as an NA first. Many people have a starry eyed view of the profession and you need to know the day to day reality up close before you leap.
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    I'm a midlife career change...worked in the travel industry for years. At 46 I became an RN.

    I'm often exhausted and frustrated at the end of a shift. I guess I'm very fortunate. People in our hospital complain, but after reading of situations here, I think we're very lucky.

    I work in intermediate care with two sections to our unite...in the main we have no more than three patients, the other section no more than 5, but we are closing one room and nobody will ever have more than 4 patients. Granted, we get people who really should be in ICU at times, but we do help each other out a lot when someone has a very unstable patient. And we're lucky to get one tech for the entire unit. However, there's a push to hire more. Still, it's extremely rare that we miss lunch or a break. Hasn't happened to me once yet. Our unit, and others, from what I've seen make it a priority that staff gets their breaks.

    It feels as though I don't always have time for each patient, but for the most needy, I somehow make time. I was there when the young woman got her cancer diagnosis, and managed to be with her for a little while until she got herself together. I was there when a frightened post surgical patient had such low bp we couldn't give her pain meds, and she was also thinking about the fact that her husband had died on the same unit a few months before...we got through the night together with hot and cold packs. I was there when she walked out of the hospital, all smiles. I've attended deaths when families couldn't arrive in time.

    And yes, I'm new, I've been on the unit only 4 months. The things I've learned...and have yet to learn.

    So yes, I'm more exhausted, I don't always have time to chart precisely, it's frustrating at times, and some days I want to quit. But I don't regret the change. If I burn out on IMC, there are literally dozens of other aspects I could get into.

    The above poster is right. Why not use your nursing experience to write columns and articles about what it's like? You may not realize it, but you could have a profound impact on patient care in this country.
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    I'm a second career nurse, having gotten my BSN in my late forties. I have never regretted it but it did take me about a year to get over the "*** am I doing here? feeling, and I only stopped feeling that way after I had gotten enough experience to realize I did know what I was doing, at least a lot of the time! The pace is brisk, to say the least, so I'm never bored, always learning something new. Most days I go home and I know I've made a difference. BUT you have to be self-directed enough to recognize and get satisfaction from your own accomplishments because you are unlikely to get any recognition from your employers, friends, family, the public or even patients. (If you're with a good group of co-workers, you'll get- and give- a lot of support to and from each other).
  9. 0
    Stick with it. Your first year or so is by far the hardest and I thought least rewarding. Your current combination of work and shift are the hardest you'll ever have to deal with. If things don't change... don't leaving the nursing... leave the nursing your are currently doing. Try: PSY, community, OR, ER, office based (I have found that many hospital nurses feel like office based nursing is a joke... that is simply not true. In fact, I think it might be where nurses can practice in the truest sense) GI Lab, CT lab, PEDS... your getting my point. I wasn't happy with where I first started but tested the waters and now I am really happy. Good luck!
  10. 0
    Hi Karen,

    I'm so glad to have found your post. When you worked as an editor/writer, weren't you worried about ageism? I know too many talented writer/editors who have been downsized out....only to have their jobs snapped up a year later by someone fresh (and cheap) out of college. Those folks have yet to find comparable work.

    That's why i'm looking for a second career where I'll be in demand no matter my age. Perhaps, I'll get to make a difference. And that UC pension looks pretty attractive, too.

    I've been blessed to find my current job. But over 9 years, the workload just increases. Work weeks are freq. 55-hours w/ no OT pay. If i work nights and weekends, there's no compensation. As for vacation, I get 20 days, but I can't take more than a 5-day weekend (or else face a mountain of backlog). I'm lucky to enjoy 10 minutes to eat lunch at desk, and breaks, forgetaboutit!

    Yes, I get to learn new things and attend some interesting events, but that by-line costs me money! There's no financial security in the long run. The only thing that's keeping me is ego.

    Admittedly, this BB scares me. Few people seem happy with their nursing careers. I'm wondering if I'm just leaving one unhappy situation for another.

    So, how are you feeling today after all of these responses?

    w2n+


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