Quitting 74K RN job for a 30K vet tech job? Advice please!

  1. i am a 26 year old single rn and make 74k gross pay a year. i have been having major anxiety lately for the last few months and have been thinking of quitting my job and going back to school. my dream has always been to work with animals and be a veterinary technician. i like nursing...but don't love it. it's hard leaving a job that pays so well though! i am super anxious before work all the time and feel sick to my stomach at work. all i do before an upcoming shift is stress out over it and then i can't sleep half the night because i am worried about it. then i am tired at work. i have had times where my pulse will actually go up to like 120 bpm from being stressed out. i work in adult psychiatry. i realize my job isn't physically hard but mentally it can be. i think i would be more stressed out working in an acute care setting like er or some super fast paced unit


    i think i would be way happier being a vet tech but am worried that i'll go for this and be in the poor house. from doing a bit of online research i have realized that i would probably only start at around 15$ an hour which is approx 30k a year. i moved half way across the country for my current rn job after i graduated. there is no way i could afford to live in my current high cost of living area on a vet tech salary. plus, i'd have to move back home and live with my family again because i would be ineligible for student loans based on my current income and wouldn't be able to go to school and afford to rent an apartment on my own. it's a 2 year program and i would need to be accepted still.


    i've tried talking to my friends about it (who are all nurses too!) and they have said well "its 100 times more stressful working on a floor having demanding med/surg patients so your lucky...don't quit your psych job its not as bad as "regular" nursing". i haven't really pursued changing specialities because of this. i am also stuck between a rock and a hard place because a) i actually started out in psych right after graduating 4 years ago b) we barely use any hands on medical skills so i'd feel so lost even with orientation on another unit...where id be lucky to get what like a couple of weeks max? i seriously feel like a new grad still in terms of medical skills/confidence in my nursing judgment...and i've been an rn for like 4 years. i sort of regret hands on skills wise taking this psych job over a job offer i had after graduation in med/surg


    any advice?
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  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   33762FL
    My advice is that you'd be completely out of your mind to give up nursing in favor of being a vet tech for less than half the annual pay. You're 26 and don't the pay cut is a huge deal now, but take my word for it, life expensive and the older you get the more you'll want/need in life. You'll want to own a home, have retirements savings, and maybe even get married and have kids. The best solution here is probably to be both a vet tech and a nurse. You can work as a nurse part time or per diem, and go to school to be a vet tech if that's what you TRULY want to do with your life. Just supplement it with about 24 hours of nursing per week and you'll be okay.
  4. by   Whispera
    I think you should sit down and figure out if you can afford to live on a vet tech income, bill-by-bill, so you have a realistic idea about it. I wonder if you could skip some of the vet tech training since you're a nurse? Having the training won't mean you'll get a job in it. Do you have some leads on where you might work?

    I don't think other types of nursing are more stressful than psych nursing. They're just differently stressful. Switching to something else would just change you into the other kind. My specialty is psych and I've worked med-surg. I love the communication in psych and the possibility of seeing that I can make a different that I can actually SEE! In med surg, people didn't stay long enough for me to see it. Also, I didn't get to know them or their hearts. I missed that.

    How about doctor office nursing or home health? They have their own stresses, but you probably get time to eat and go to the bathroom most days.

    If you go to another unit, I bet you can get a nice orientation. I did. I found my technical skills came back quickly.

    It sounds like you need to make a change, but I don't know if being a vet tech is it. Check around to see what the nursing options are where you live. How about informatics, research, community health?
  5. by   sapphire18
    Acute care is not your only option- try researching different fields of nursing that would be available to you. Also, I doubt if you would only get 2 weeks of orientation on a new unit in a new specialty..at least in acute care. Have you thought about going back to school for a graduate degree? Do you have any interest in being an NP or something along those lines? Public health? Office/school nurse? That's the great thing about nursing- the options are almost endless. I guess it's just really up to you whether you would rather stay in your area, living on your own, or have to go live with your parents again and go through another 2 years of school just to start a much-less-paying job. Good luck in making this decision
  6. by   rn/writer
    Before you jump ship, consider looking for a less demanding specialty area using the degree you already have. I worked psych for years and can appreciate the stress you're talking about. But that's not all that's out there.

    I now work postpartum and I really love what I do. If you like teaching and interacting with (mostly nice) families, you might want to consider this.

    How about home health care. I don't know how long you've been in psych or what your background is apart from that, but if you have good assessment skills, you might really enjoy the one-to-one aspect of seeing individuals in their own homes.

    Clinic nursing within a hospital, outpatient care, school nursing and office nursing might also be realistic alternatives. Before anyone gets annoyed, I don't suggest these areas because they're "easy" but because they offer challenges that might be less intimidating than the headgames, tension, and subtle threats that can go with adult psych.

    It's a pretty safe bet that these alternatives will involve a reduction in pay, but they shouldn't drop you as far as vet tech pay, and you won't have to go back to school. At least not for very long.

    When I went from psych to postpartum care, I voluntarily took an eight-week hands-on refresher course to get me back in the swing of using the latest equipment and just generally converting from mental to physical health. It was well worth the effort. If you decide to go this route, contact tech schools or community colleges, as they often give you more bang for your buck.

    If you haven't been in psych that long, you might not need a refresher. But either way, I'd encourage you to look at other areas of nursing before you let that expensive degree start gathering dust. If you can make a living wage and still keep your sanity, maybe then you can volunteer your time to work with animals. Groups that take animals to visit schools, nursing homes and hospitals come to mind.

    Whatever you do, I hope you'll find a good balance between paycheck and peace.
  7. by   mclennan
    I say DO IT. Take the risk. Money is dumb. Happiness rules. Keep your RN license and pick up 5 or 6 shifts a month per diem if you really think you're gonna starve. But you won't. Not if you resist the mainstream expectations that you're "supposed" to have a new car, own a home, and breed. RESIST!!!!!

    I wish I'd taken bigger risks when I was your age, and done what makes me happy instead of listening to everyone tell me what I "should" do. ROCK the poorhouse and your parent's house. Screw nursing and help the animals. Don't be on your deathbed listing your regrets. Do these things NOW while it's easy for you. Every minute that goes by while you sit on your butt soul-searching, it gets harder and harder to change careers, move home, go to school, and take a pay cut. Money is NOTHING. Happiness is EVERYTHING. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, and a better situation to support your dream than most. GO FOR IT.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Jul 9, '12 : Reason: Removed disallowed word.
  8. by   DeLana_RN
    Agree with pp, I would recommend PRN nursing and part-time vet tech. I think you may be able to get OJT for vet tech, especially being a nurse, and not have to go to school at all.

    All the best!
  9. by   33762FL
    you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, and a better situation to support your dream than most.

    sure, if your dream is to live in your parents' basement, never be married or have a family (or worse, live off government handouts to raise your kids), drive a 1999 ford focus, and be eating cat food when you're 80, then sure drop nursing and focus on pursing a $15/hour job if you even get a job. money isn't dumb, it's a necessity for life, as nobody accepts magic beans as payment for anything. you can be a nurse and a vet tech, although it will be stressful for a few years while you're working as a nurse and in school for vet tech. do the most you can in life and be the best you can be, not the least you can be.
  10. by   prettymica
    I am with the majority, hop around and try some new areas of nursing. I hated nursing home work. I found hospice, I love it. I also work home health and its not so bad. Neither are really stressful but all jobs do have pros and cons. I plan to try ER for a while or OR once I finish my bridge program. I always wanted to teach, try MDS, try management, clinic work, cath lab, and psych, I just cant wait Good luck to you my dream was to become a veterinarian and I became a nurse, and I don't think about what if at the moment, maybe one day I will... HUGS !
  11. by   TurtleCat
    Theoretically, would you be able to live off of vet tech salary if you didn't have kids to support or a mortgage/rent to pay?
  12. by   lovenandj, RN
    Why not make yourself a plan to go vet school, DVM, I mean? If working with animals is truly what you love, you are young, and I'm guessing childless. You could probably do it feasibly, and you could get loans since that is a graduate program (I think it is, at least). Or work part-time to help off set the cost, so you don't need as many loans. But you said yourself you couldn't afford to live on the vet tech salary. I kind of think that answers your initial question right there. You have to be able to support yourself at the end of the day.

    Also, with 4 years of psych experience, you are probably qualified enough for case management, that might help relieve some of the anxiety you feel about work. Is it your facility that is the problem? Because I've worked now in three different psychiatric units, and my first was by FAR my worst experience. Thankfully I figured out that it didn't have to be that bad.
  13. by   sauconyrunner
    OH wow. Do NOT go work as a Vet Tech. I know the idea of working with animals is really appealing. I've been a Vet Tech. Every single Animal that arrives comes attached to PEOPLE. so you will still be dealing with PEOPLE who are annoying, irritating, upset and angry. They are often worse because in Veterinary medicine, most pets don't carry insurance, and people don't really have a lot of money to throw around. They tend to expect you to somehow give them free care all the time.

    I worked as a Vet Tech in a Regular MD office- it was OK, very Boring. Occasionally people were very condescending to me.
    I also worked in an Emergency Veterinary clinic where I got to do many interesting things, in the middle of the night. I also got to deal with the payments in the middle of the night, drunk people in the middle of the night, angry poor people in the middle of the night...drug dealers dogs with gun shot wounds in the middle of the night...
    That said, I think psych nursing could be really stressful. I think I'd look around at some other nursing things, and I'd probably talk to someone neutral about how to cope better at this point....you should not have to feel so sick from work...
  14. by   caliotter3
    No matter what you end up doing, I highly suggest you address your anxiety issues first. It would be very uncomfortable for you to start down a different road, especially with some degree of bridge burning (let's face it, leave your present job and it is likely you won't be welcome back), then have the same anxiety or even worse anxiety. You can't enjoy any kind of life with constant, debilitating anxiety, or any other kind of physical or emotional drain. Take care of your health before you make life-altering changes. Best wishes.

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