Career Change- flight attendant to nursing?

  1. So I've been working as a flight attendant now for about 5 years and truth-be-told I am bored to tears and so sick of traveling. Nursing is one of the things I'm considering going back to school for and have been doing a lot of research and seeing a lot of positive and negative things about the profession. So I have some questions. First of all one of the things I hate most about my job is the constant repitition accompanied by the fact that I spend so much of my time just sitting around and I hardly ever get to use my brain or be challenged. So my first questions are: does nursing have a lot of just sitting around being bored? It seems like from what I've read people post that it is the opposite and you never get to sit down. Is there a lot of repitition? Or are you getting to do new things all the time? And do you feel mentally challenged enough to feel you are actually using your brain?
    The other thing I hate about my job is seeing so much of the ugly side of people. Is this something you would say you have to see a lot of in nursing? I love people and have always known that in some way I need to work with and help people to be really happy in my career but I'm so burnt out with dealing with the bad side of people after this job I'm afraid if I have to deal with it in my next that I will never like people again. So I guess do you have to deal with a lot of angry/rude patients, patient's families, doctors, etc? Or do you get to see some amazing good things in people that might help revitalize my love of them?
    Also I'm so used to always feeling like "big brother is watching" every little thing I do between the FAA and the company. Living in fear I'll make some little mistake and get in big trouble. Is this something you worry about a lot with nursing?
    And finally, I'm wondering why everyone always posts about hospital nursing only? It sounds extremely stressful and I'm wondering if R.N.'s also work in doctor's offices? And why no one ever posts about those jobs? Are they lower-paid? Much more competitive? And what about neo-natal and the seemingly less intense (at least it would seem from the outside) nursing areas?
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    About cory19

    Joined: Jul '10; Posts: 2


  3. by   HouTx
    I am glad you are taking the time to reflect and dig a lot deeper before moving ahead with your career transition plans. The most important thing to remember is that people don't change simply because they are ill -nasty people are still nasty until the bitter end. Dysfunctional families ramp it up several notches when someone is ill... and nurses are always on the firing line. At least in your present job, exposure to a real 'piece of work' is limited by the length of the flight. We may have to deal with them for days on end and see them again with each repeat admission. We don't get the kudos. When anyone recovers, they usually chalk it up to their wonderful physician who probably spent 15 minutes a day with them... LOL.

    New nurses are prepared to be generalists - and they enter the workplace at the bottom of the (very defined) healthcare heirarchy. The work is extremely physical and most hospitals have (mistakenly, in my opinion) moved to 12 hour shifts. So, there really isn't much sitting around. However, over time the work can become very repetitive if you don't take deliberate action - such as moving to another clinical area, continuing education, certification, etc.

    Healthcare is extremely rule-bound. Infractions generally result in punitive actions. Everyone is "big brother" - my license actually requires me to take action when I see a problem; failure to do so could result in the loss of my livelihood.

    So that is the negative side... but for myself, for every negative, there have been a host of positives. I feel good knowing my efforts have made a difference. I believe that each time I have added value to another person's life, it produces a ripple effect - a successful resusciation that enabled the patient to spend time with his grandchild, who in turn benefitted greatly from getting to know a grandparent, ... etc. As a nurse educator, I am blessed to be involved with work that not only benefits care providers, but the patients they will be caring for.

    My advice - Go For It! You already have the ability to deal with 'difficult' people. Maybe you could consider flight nursing as an ultimate job... it would be perfect for someone with your background.

    Keep us posted here at AN... Best of luck to you.
  4. by   elkpark
    Welcome to allnurses!

    Well, I don't want to discourage you -- and kudos for doing your research up front! -- but most of the things you identify as reasons you don't like being a flight attendant are even bigger issues in healthcare (as HouTX already noted). You will definitely see people at their worst (they will act and treat you in ways they would never imagine possible if they weren't sick/in crisis, or they just aren't in control of their behavior and "bodily functions"), there is oversight and accountability like you wouldn't believe (not just the employer and the FAA, but your employer, the state, your licensing board, the Federal gov't, and various regulatory agencies), and there's lots of repetition. (On the "up" side, there's v. little sitting around. )

    Most discussion here is about working in hospitals because that's where the large majority of RN jobs are. Physician's offices rarely use RNs, because they can use LPNs and MAs much more cheaply and the work in offices rarely involves an RN's scope of practice. Those jobs are few and far between -- they also pay poorly (that's the trade-off for the M-F/no holidays/no weekends aspect of the jobs), and there's a lot of competition for the few of those jobs available (people that have them tend to hang on to them; or, if there's a lot of turnover, there's usually a v. good reason why).

    There are lots of nursing jobs with decent hours/schedule and less stress and frustration, but most of those require that you have some significant amount of experience and/or additional education to be qualified/eligible. Most RNs start out "in the trenches" and work their way up (just as I would guess flight attendants start out with the less desirable schedules and routes and work their way up as they gain more seniority). In general, what specialties or jobs in nursing people find more or less stressful is a v. individual thing. I have worked all of my career in an area that most nurses won't touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole , but I wouldn't want to do anything else. One of the good things about nursing is that it's a very "big tent" -- there's definitely "something for everyone," and potential jobs and roles that appear to have absolutely nothing in common except that they all require a nursing license. If you don't like one kind of nursing specialty or job, there are lots of other possibilities "out there."

    I encourage you to keep researching this thoroughly before deciding to make a career change. There are a lot of positives about nursing, but also a lot of negatives and nursing is certainly not the right choice for everyone. Best wishes for your journey!
  5. by   cory19
    Thank you so very much for your responses! I was planning to start doing pre-reqs in the fall because there is a 3 year wait to get into the nursing program at the community college I was looking into. But maybe I will wait and try doing some hospital and/or nursing home volunteer work before that. After reading what you have said it has occurred to me that maybe 5 years ago before I became so disgruntled from dealing with people I may have been able to do this job and take a lot of the crap without being too resentful but now I'm just not sure. And I do know one thing, I certainly don't want to become one of those angry, disgruntled nurses everyone else is talking about here. Maybe I'll keep looking for other career options and just keep this one in mind. By the way, do you think people struggle so much when they first start out because they are so enamored with the way they think the profession is going to be and then are just really disappointed when it isn't what they chalked it up to be? We see that all the time in the flight attendant profession. Maybe if people were more realistic about the negative aspects of a job from the get-go they would be better able to handle it. Then again maybe it would make them just that much more disgruntled from the start. In my career search I'm starting to find that a lot of people are very unhappy in their professions. It's kind of discouraging.