frustrated with career path in healthcare

  1. Hello! I live in Florence, AZ and have been reading several of these forums for some time now and finally decided to make a post with a plea for help from all of you with expertise who've "been there...done that"

    Although it has been extremely intimidating, I have decided to seek a second career later in life to the field of nursing. There are several reasons why I have decided to jump from a background of human resources and business administration (and before that....finance) to the healthcare field and specifically nursing. In 2005, I was laid off when I was 4 months pregnant with my first child. My husband and I decided to try and make a go of it on one income. It's now the middle of 2007 and we now have two small children (one 19 mos and one 5 mos) and have literally tapped every financial resource possible to prevent me from having to go back to work. Having two children so close together (and one high-risk pregnancy) with all the doctor visits and long L&D/recovery/hospital stays, I have been seriously thinking of going into nursing over the past six months sheerly for the practical experience and ability to use it in my home and for my family. When my kids are sick, I don't want to have to rush to the doctor and pay a $20 copay to find out they have a cold that was caused by a virus and there isn't anything I can do about it but give them Tylenol or Ibuprofen for comfort. I also like the idea of being able to work anywhere in the world, anytime, doing almost anything -- it's so flexible. I always admired nurses and their knowledge and caring ability to interact with and treat the human body and soul. My third reason is so I have the training/experience under my belt in case something happened to my husband. I didn't want to be left with two little kids and a resume full of business "fluff". I want something practical and interesting and useful all at the same time. So, I decided to surf the internet for ideas on how to get into nursing.

    I found this forum almost immediately through a google search and found a discussion thread about the best route to get to an RN. With my lack of experience and need to go back to school anyway, I decided to start with a CNA program. It was the shortest way to get certified to do something in healthcare. I started a medical terms course online through Rio Salado community college (online) a few weeks ago and that is going fine. I think there are only two more classes plus the nurse assisting lab before the program is finished. (It's only 8 credit hours.) All of this is with the idea that once the CNA is finished, I can apply to nursing school and move into an RN program. I think Rio Salado's has exit points at the CNA, LPN, and then RN level. In the meantime, I thought I'd be smart and seek a job at a hospital so I could work nights and not have to put my kids in daycare (which we don't want -- don't worry I have a mother-in-law to help so I get some sleep). I revelled in my genious thinking how I could be going to school at my own pace (at least in the beginning) yet working for someone who could PAY for my schooling. All of this practical experience in a hospital setting of course, would also serve the purpose of helping me decide whether I really wanted to be a nurse. After all, I know there is a difference between having a dream and actually doing the everyday nitty gritty dirty work. It would be irresponsible to decide to "go to nursing school" without having some experience in a healthcare setting to see if I really even liked it. Sorry for all the background, but I felt it necessary to any reader who might be able to give me some real-life suggestions...even if it's something I don't want to hear.

    So, I updated my resume with a different objective statement and added a cover letter stating that I'm in the nursing program originally seeking a CNA to RN path. I've even gone out on my own and taken the certification for BLS for Healthcare Provider even though I'm not a healthcare provider yet. But now I have it for my resume!!! I googled all the hospitals within an hour drive of me (I live in sort of a remote area.) and applied for dozens of jobs that I feel I am qualified for...but the whammy is that I don't have the healthcare experience. I thought it was going to be so easy with being a later-in-life career-change seeker, but boy was I wrong. I've applied for patient financial service reps, patient care assistants, health unit coordinator/secretary (which I am definitely qualified for except for the lack of experience in a healthcare setting), among others, but I haven't heard back from anything and most websites change the application status from submitted to "no longer interested" almost immediately after I apply. The only reason I apply to these jobs is because the job description says experience preferred...none of them said "mandatory" or "must have." The jobs that said that, I didn't even bother with.

    Is it just that hard to break into the healthcare field, or am I doing something else that is wrong. Maybe I need to start in the cafeteria or housekeeping and move up from there.

    I would appreciate any help from anyone who has time to give some constructive criticism to a frustrated mom. Maybe what I'm trying to do is impossible and I won't be able to get a job working nights in the healthcare field until I actually have some credentials (such as a CNA), but I'd love to hear from someone that feels sorry enough for me to help

    Thank you, in advance, for any thoughts, suggestions, hints, comments that you may have. This website is an amazing gold mine of experience and knowledge and cheers to all of you!
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   Hospice Nurse LPN
    Didn't you say you took a CNA class? :uhoh21: Maybe I misunderstood. I was just wondering why don't you apply for a CNA job? Good luck!
  4. by   momto2lilgirls
    I may not have made it clear...I just started the first required course in the CNA program which is medical terminology. I still have to take Fundamentals in Health Care Delivery and the Nurse Assisting + Nurse Assisting Lab before I get my CNA cert.

    Thank you for responding!!
  5. by   2BNurseabbi
    Try volunteering at a local hospital and to build experience and network for recommendations. Hope this helps b/c I have been thinking about doing this for awhile. Its the only way that I know of to get your foot in the door. I like that fact that you are doing the CNA first.
    abbie
  6. by   llg
    I agree with the suggestion to do some volunteer work. It will help you get your foot in the door.

    Also, I can understand why employers may not be interested in hiring you for non-clinical jobs. They can see from your resume that you have no intentions of staying in that job for very long. By the time you get good at it, you will have moved on into your nursing career -- and they will have invested in you and gotten little return on their investment. Employers rarely want to hire people who announce up-front that they are only looking for a temporary job. (-- except "temp" agencies, of course.)

    It would be better to focus on finishing up your CNA training ASAP and seeking a job that will use that CNA training -- with an employer that will be intereted in having a nursing student as an employee. Look for employers who need nurses who will want you to work for them as a student with the idea of possibly hiring you when you become a nurse. If that doesn't work out, at least apply to places who will appreciate your CNA skills.
  7. by   momto2lilgirls
    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who applied to my post back in October about my frustration with the healthcare career path. It is one year later and I now have my CNA (certificate and license) and have been applying for many, many, many CNA jobs left and right in nearly all the acute care facilities within 75 mile radius of my location. I got my CNA in May and it is October now and still nothing -- I am in the same place I was a year ago without my CNA. What is the deal with CNAs in acute care? Do you have to know someone to get in, or is this more of a situation where hospitals want you to get your experience in LTC first before they will hire you? I am in Arizona...maybe this is an Arizona thing. The Banner Healthcare system is the most frustrating of all!! Anyone work for Banner in AZ that has some feedback or any general feedback? Thanks, in advance
  8. by   jjjoy
    It can be frustrating to break into a new field, especially if all you hear is that the field is just dying for new blood. It seems like it should be easy to get started. However, sometimes you still have to do a lot of leg work to get started.

    Besides sending in applications on-line/by mail, have you been into facilities in person to ask about CNA jobs? Have you regularly followed up by checking back in with HR every week or so? (In other words, politely hassle them so you'll be first in their mind when a position opens up). Can anyone in HR give you any kind of advice in your job search?

    Can you perhaps schedule an informational interview with a nurse manager to ask what you can do make yourself more marketable?

    Are you volunteering in a local facilityl on a nursing unit? If so, try to identify the CNAs and ask them about their work history. Try to let the nurse manager know that you are a CNA and are interested in working as one.

    Have you applied at LTCs? It might very well be that the hospitals in your area prefer to hire experienced CNAs. Would you consider working in a LTC?

    Maybe you can look up local staffing agencies (temp work for nursing care) and see if they might have any work for you as a CNA.
  9. by   momto2lilgirls
    In the Banner system, unless you are an RN, the only thing you are allowed to do is apply online and play the waiting game. I have tried calling HR personally, and that is what they have told me. However, I have not necessarily gone in person to the other hospitals to which I have applied. Once, I did try to call the nurse manager for a unit I was interested in and, because I didn't know her "name", they told me they could not put the call through. How would you go about finding this information.

    It is hard for me to volunteer because I'm a stay-at-home-mom raising two small children who are not old enough for drop-in day care. But that is just a convenient excuse. I guess I could volunteer on a night shift or something.

    Lastly, I have not applied at long-term care facilities and the reason is selfish. During my clinicals, I loathed the fact that the CNA ratio to LTC resident was so low. It almost makes me ill that they expect one CNA to properly care for almost 15 patients (at the facility I was at, anyway). Properly care for are the key words...because they are not properly cared for. In my rotation, through one of the nicest facilities in the state, the residents got dressed, toileted, wheeled to the dining room, fed, wheeled back to their room for a nap, toileted, wheeled back to the dining room, fed, wheeled back to their room, etc... I never saw any am care (on the day shift) or help with ADLs that actually might make the residents feel better about themselves. No mouth care, denture care, hair brushing, face washing, or ROM.

    When I asked one of the CNAs why, they said they have too many residents to get back and forth to meals and change inbetween to do "all the little personal care items" that they need. That was actually a quote from one of the CNAs that I worked with. Maybe this subject is taboo and I am not supposed to talk about it, but it's kind of depressing that there seems to be no time to fit in personal care. Imagine waking up everyday and not being able to brush your teeth, wash your face, or comb your hair! Then you moved from meal to meal to meal and laid down at night and went to sleep? It's kind of a gross exaggeration, but that is essentially what happens. I saw it with my own eyes.

    I am going on and on, I know...and the saddest thing is that CNAs are needed in LTC facilities to combat this ridiculous phenomena. But is it worth taking a job in extended care knowing I will be miserable not being able to care for the residents the way they should be cared for? Can one CNA make a difference? Maybe this is a topic for another forum.

    Thanks for listening. Sorry for the rant, and I will take your suggestions to heart. A million thanks!!

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