Nursing vs. Teaching?

  1. 1
    I have now been a nurse for 3 yrs and have worked in 3 different places. Most recently I took I job I thought I would love, some days are good but about 75% of the time I get no breaks and end up staying after work. I also work 5 days a wk. I am only 26 yrs old and the physical demands (lifting heavy patients) is already taking its toll on my back and neck. I have worked with quite a few seasoned nurses who have already had to have spinal fusions-this does not sound good to me! Some days a really great patient will make me feel like it is all worth it but 75% of the time I feel very stressed and anxious.

    Now on my 3rd job which I thought I would love I am starting to become discouraged about my career choice. I want to start a family soon but always feel stressed and tired. I make really good $ (24/hr on days no wknds) and have thought about pursuing other types of nursing besides floor nursing/direct pt care. My aunt who is also a nurse and was also always stressed and unhappy recently took an MDS Coordinator job and loves it. She has holidays and wknds off with her kids and flexibility on her work hrs if she needs to make a DR appt. She is also much less tired and stressed than when she was working the floor.

    My second career choice if I did not get accepted to nursing school was becoming a school teacher. Before nursing school through my job at a bank I volunteered one morning a week tutoring 3rd graders in math and I loved it. I know that teaching would be a pay cut but I am wondering if it would provide me with the less stressed lifestyle I am looking for. Does anybody have any thoughts on this? I know a lot of people want to go into nursing, am I crazy for wanting to leave it?
    lindarn likes this.
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  4. 22 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    I taught school before becoming a nurse and there were many perks. You just have to be sure you're there for the right reasons and not the benefits. I consider going back to teaching all the time and doing nursing on the side. It's not that I don't enjoy nursing, but at this time in my life, teaching fits my goals at this point.
    lindarn likes this.
  6. 1
    How about school nursing? It might feel like the best of both worlds.
    Purple_Scrubs likes this.
  7. 2
    I am a nursing instructor and continue to do bedside nursing. I instruct 3 days a week and work 20 to 24 hours a week at the bedside/hospital setting. I love both. Instructing is less stressful and the clinical setting pays more, of course. I enjoy both because they balance out. Good luck and keep us posted.
    AmericanRN and lindarn like this.
  8. 1
    I am not sure why you say that it would definitely be a pay cut. Working 10 months a year, all holidays off, starting pay in my area is close to identical starting RN pay.

    Follow your passion. As was said above, you can teach nursing. If it is interaction with children or younger students that gets you going, have you considered peds home health or other peds patient education?
    lindarn likes this.
  9. 7
    As mauxtav8r said, teachers do not necessarily make less than RN's. It depends on the specific jobs, type of school, geographic area, etc. My sister was a public school teacher with a Master's Degree. I am a nurses with a graduate degree (MSN for a while, now PhD). We are both in our mid-50's.

    I have always made more "cash up front" than my sister ... but she always had much better benefits. And those better benefits she has always earned have paid off over time. Her entire graduate education was paid by the tax payers. It was only recently that she ever paid a co-pay at the doctor's office. etc.

    But most important, she was able to retire at the age of 52 with a pension that guarantees her 60% of her highest salary for the rest of her life - adjusted annually for inflation. She also will get Social Security on top of that. And she also had access to some tax deferred vehicles to save a little nest-egg. So, she semi-retired at 52 -- works occasionally as a substitute teacher and pulls in about 80% of her highest salary. She plays golf, spends winters in Florida, etc. While I plan on working until I am 65. I have saved well in my retirement accounts, but grad school was expensive -- and my savings can't provide the security of the lifetime state-guaranteed pension.

    Her retirement also includes access to the teacher's association group insurance plans, etc.

    ... and she was "just" a 2nd grade teacher in a public school in a small town. While it is a good school district, it is not a particularly "wealthy" area.

    Go where your heart is. What type of work do you really want to do? You can earn a decent living from either career -- but will need to manage your money wisely if you want to have more than a few luxuries.
    StaRNew, Purple_Scrubs, brian, and 4 others like this.
  10. 1
    Thank you to all for these suggestions.

    School nursing- I would love this, yes it would be the best of both worlds, unfortunately where I live those jobs are few and far between. I live in Indiana and the last time I checked you had to have a BSN (unless there were multiple school nurses in a school system, then the head nurse has to be a BSN). This could be an option for me in the future, my current employer will pay 70% of my continuing education if it is nursing. I spent time in 2 schools for my clinical in nursing school and loved it, I have been told it the pay is lower than the teachers (I know it sounds like I am concerned about $ but I am also trying to be responsible financially) in some school systems.

    Home health-I enjoyed some aspects of this during my clinical. These nurses had one on one time with there patients, did lots of teaching and did not seem very stressed. Although some of the homes we went to were in very bad areas and the nurse spent a lot of time driving putting miles, wear and tear on her personal vehicle. I just did not get the feeling that I would like this type of job for very long.

    Teaching nursing-I think I would enjoy teaching clinical. Teaching the lecture part of it sounds intimidating. My strong points in school were history and English. The sciences were much more challenging for me. I was able to make A's for my nursing school prerequisites but it was not easy. In nursing school my first year we had a new nursing instructor and she was not very good. It was awful for her, students would ask for scientific rationals or more in depth explanations and she did not know. This was at a community college so 75% of my classmates were my parents age and they were not very nice to her. I know this was our education and we deserved to have an adequate teacher but they were very disrespectful during class. I found this to be true in other classes not just nursing. I know kids can be very mean as well but I was amazed at the lack of respect for the simple fact that they are the student and the other person is your teacher. So the thought of teaching adults much older than me seems terrifying

    Peds nursing- My previous job was PACU (left due to long hrs and tired of taking all the on-call) and we took care of a lot on ent patients. I enjoy the older school age kids 8-12 range, but did not like babies/toddlers. The really little ones were always scared and would never stop crying, it was not for me. The older kids would calm down once you got them comfortable and they were fun to work with.

    On my unit we do have weekend option positions which pay for 36 hrs and you actually work 12hr shift. I love my weekends (husband is off work on wknds, family time) but this would be ideal if I become a mother or go back to school. I guess I am just feeling depressed with nursing. At the end of the day I am mentally and physically drained. I try to relax at work but the minute I feel like I slow down something will be missed or not get done. I want to do a good job and feel like I have done a good job at the end of the day. I want to go to work happy and have a job where I am helping people and don't feel like a physical work slave.
    lindarn likes this.
  11. 2
    I agree with the above post...

    You could be a nursing teacher, less stress, all holidays off, even the summer. You mentioned something about pay cut. Even if it is I'd rather be happy, healthy, and love going to work than to be dreading the next day coming and be making more money. You know?

    Or you could work in a doctors office also, its a bit less stressful your not always on your toes, you get a break. I'm not sure how much they pay. But as long as your happy with your job thats all that matters.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
    lindarn and lkwashington like this.
  12. 0
    LifelongDream, may I ask why did you choose to leave teaching to become a nurse?
  13. 2
    Only you can what is right for you. Do keep in mind there are many types of nursing-related jobs where you're not lifting patients or on your feet for 10 hours at a time. A few that come to mind include: traveling nurse (teaching a diabetic to use their new insulin pump), home health, hospice, nurse-educator, or administration. I'm told that in some hospitals they like some of their billing & management people to have a medical background, too.

    Is a school teacher an easier job? For those not teaching at a college, I am not so sure. You will still be staying late to grade papers. You'll be not only teaching but babysitting. In many schools there is a big disconnect between administration vs teachers when it comes to discipline, and you may find yourself alone to deal with the bad apples. In most parts of the country teachers are being blamed for poor test scores, and any love you had for the subject matter is killed by the mandate of teaching to the test. Tenure is not longer a guarantee - as school districts must meet dropout and state pass rates and when they don't,YOU will be blamed. If you're a wonderful teacher but ended up with a C- average grade-wise, even the high turn-over schools may not be able to hire you, thanks to the federal government's mandates in the No Child Left Behind act.

    Money-wise in my area teachers make only $30-40k, unless you can get into a good private school and/or build up lots of seniority. Compare that to my areas nurses who often start at $50k-60k. And: expect to pay for class supplies out of your own pocket!

    Do check to see if there is a demand for teachers. In my area the recession is so bad they let go any extra teachers and most of their substitutes. Even in the inner-city high-risk schools, it's become a bit of work to get in.

    So, only you can decide what you need to be happy. But be careful this isn't a case of 'grass is always greener'. Can you compromise and find a nursing job that involves more education? Or why not take some education classes on the side, then apply to be an instructor at a nursing college, hospital, or pharm/therapy company?
    lkwashington and lindarn like this.


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