Midlife Career Change to Nursing - Advice, please - page 2

by mcgocara31

27,259 Views | 73 Comments

Hi all, I'm a 42-year-old lawyer who's seriously considering making a career change to the nursing field. (I've been an unhappy lawyer, in several different law positions, for 18 years now...). I am looking for a career that... Read More


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    Well? It is what it is. We've heard how sucky things are for new lawyers, too. You certainly are smart to listen to us, and not think we are being ridiculous. So many never ask, like you are doing, and just say, "it's my dreeaaaam to be a nurse" and they totally screw themselves (twice) become hugely in debt, unemployed, and to add misery, lose their license simply because they default on their loans either because they cannot get a nursing job, or, because they pay is so low, that they cannot make payments and put food on the table.

    Happy, is not even something that enters into it. This is the reality of the profession.
    Fiona59 and anotherone like this.
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    Totally understand - thank you all for your input and advice!
    anotherone likes this.
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    Much as it pains me to have to say this, it's really hard to recommend nursing as a career to anyone these days. All the negatives already noted above are true, and times are really hard for new grads for the time being. I'm not particularly optimistic that the new grad situation will necessarily improve when the economy does -- even before the economy tanked, we were starting to see threads on this site about hospitals posting "new grads need not apply" on their websites, and the concerns a lot of healthcare employers have about new grads, although beyond the scope of this thread, are real and persistent.
    Fiona59, netglow, anotherone, and 1 other like this.
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    It's funny. I'm going back for an IT degree and then to law school. But actually there are a lot of lawyer turned nurse members on this board. I agree with the above that there is no shortage. But you could use your law degree to your advantage as an RN attorney. Of course you would have to get experience first but you can combined your 2 degrees.

    And yes there are a LOT of unhappy nurses out there. I'm one of them. I like being a nurse but there is so much crap that comes with being a nurse. And if you think your clients treat you like a servant think of everyone in the hospital treating you like a servant. And everything is blamed on the nurse. The TV not working, blame the nurse, the heat isn't working, blame the nurse.

    A good example of our abuse. The question that is asked the most is when will the doctor be in? We get blamed for family having to wait all day to talk to the doctor. Then we are asked to call the doctor to see what time he/she rounds. I don't call because I know the answer. I had a family member get super indignant with me about this. She demanded I call the doctor because she didn't want to wait all day to talk to him. I called his service and when he called back I put him on speaker phone. I told him so and so's daughter wants to know when you make it in to talk to her? I step back from the phone and put it real close to the daughter. And yes I received the answer I expected. The doctor said when I get there in an extremely irritated voice. I asked can you talk to her on the phone? He yells no I can't talk to her right now! I'm headed to such and such hospital and hangs up the phone. Needless to say the daughter apologized and she waited for the doctor to come in.

    And trust me that example is mild. So we aren't saying that nursing is all bad but if you do go into nursing be prepared to have your behind handed to you on a regular basis if you work at the bedside especially. If you can even get a bedside or any nurse job as a new grad.

    Oh I forgot to add I make $45 now but I have to work my behind off and I don't have benefits.

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
    Last edit by DoeRN on Mar 22, '13
    Fiona59, netglow, anotherone, and 2 others like this.
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    I wouldn't recommend it. You will invest a lot of time and money into prerequisites and nursing school only to be one of the gazillions of new grad nurses looking for a few open positions. Chances are (of course there are always exceptions) that you will not be able to start in your preferred specialty right away. You will receive app. half of your current pay and work 13+ hour shifts with or without break. If you have to start on nights (which is common) you will mess up your sleep schedule and it might take 1-2 days to adjust to "daytime life" whenever you are off. With half the pay of what you make right now, you might have to work extra shifts to pay your bills or continue your current standard of life (or simply pay off your school debt), so you might end up picking up extra shifts, and all of a sudden you will find yourself working 4-5 shifts a week. You will most likely be required to work holidays and weekends. Regarding personal satisfaction of helping others: yes, that aspect is there, but often much less than you are hoping for, due to the fact that you will be overworked on an understaffed floor with so many patients that you will not have enough time to give them the care you desire. Your majority of the time will be spend documenting and doing required paperwork that will keep you from your patients' rooms. I am a second-career RN, and although I still like some aspects of my job I am unsure that I would do it all over again if I knew back then what I know now.
    Fiona59, netglow, and anotherone like this.
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    One illusion most of us carer changers have is that nursing is all about patient care. That would be nice but nurses spend almost or 1/2 of their time charting and doing tedious and very detailed oriented paper work. Not only this paper work is like office work but worst is done out of an office, at the nursing station with no office implementation and perks. This work has to be done precisely and any small detail missed could be a med error which could get you fired or somebody killed faster then a patient reaching for the call light. Hospitals today are big corporations that only care about their huge profits and not about the patient or the social service their provide in other words not very nice places to work, their are mostly toxic places.

    If you really want to go into health care you might still want to seek the nursing carer but be open and look into different venues, such as primary care, preventive care. Bed side nursing is a place you don't want to be right now...specially if you are not young and pretty...sorry but not even these kids are getting jobs...
    netglow, anotherone, and workingharder like this.
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    I went to nursing school in CT and in my last semester I applied to every nurse residency program in CT I was allowed to starting in Jan 2012, and I applied weekly to new openings at every hospital in CT until June and never heard back from one hospital, only rejection emails. I moved to Florida and within 1 wk of getting my license endorsed here I got a job-however, instead of the $30/hr I thought for the 3 years I was in school I would eventually be making as a new RN,I am making 21.50, and another hospital I started out at was paying me 19.68/hour. The cost of living in FL isnt that much cheaper than CT really, so to be making less than 2/3 the national average is very disheartening. Onet.org is a great govt funded database which has every occupation you can think of, with the skills,training, and median wages by state, and also the projected job growth for the next 10-20 years. It is a really great website and will help you plan what part of the country you would want to relocate to if you had to. I know that NY is a very tough place to get a RN job in, I looked at job listings and most hospitals want 1 year experience plus BSN, I only had ADN and obviously no experience. I would say that if it is your life's passion to be a nurse, go for it, and hopefully in the next few years the economy will turn around just in time for you to be stepping foot into the job market. If it is purely for economical reasons, I dont think it would be a good decision, we definitely do not get paid close to anywhere all nurses deserve!
    Fiona59, netglow, anotherone, and 1 other like this.
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    Don't Do It.

    ...plain and simple.
    save yourself.
    Fiona59, netglow, anotherone, and 2 others like this.
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    Whether or not your previous career will be given consideration depends entirely on the person doing the hiring. My previous career has helped me land four positions in health care since I made a second-career switch to nursing.

    I've found jobs in both urban and suburban settings without any problem. I'm not disagreeing that it can be hard on a new nurse today but professional skills are an asset in the job search. As a lawyer, you probably have above-average job search skills, no?

    As for stress--every nurse in my new cohort thought nursing was highly stressful except for the three of us who had held highly-paid positions in other fields. We found nursing decidedly less stressful compared to the chronic stress of our previous careers--and we each took a substantial paycut to pursue nursing.

    (By the way, my own track: pre-reqs while I held down my full-time career. Two years to earn my BSN, while I kept up with part-time work on the side. Full-time employment in an urban acute care hospital, mostly day shifts, within six weeks of graduation. Several of my classmates did just as well. The horror stories are out there, but so are the success stories. Just do your research.)

    Dina
    HomaShahabzadah and Soon2BNurse3 like this.
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    I always have to warn people in their 40's that it isn't easy becoming a nurse now....it is hard on your body, you will be working an off shift most likely, you will be working weekends and holidays, if you are in a large unit you Amy not even get a summer vacation for 5-10 years depending on how good their retention is. It is just a lot of change for some people.

    And being in the New York area ( I think that is where said you were from) you have to be BSN prepared.

    I love my job, but at 40 something, , I am Looking forward to being able to retire when I am 51!
    Fiona59, netglow, anotherone, and 1 other like this.


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