Is it really a terrible time to go into nursing school for a second degree?

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    I was on my way to becoming a professor in physical geography, when, during my first year in a doctoral program, I realized I was miserable and wanted a career that really meant something. For me, academics wasn't it. It's not that my grad programs were difficult--they really weren't. I felt that I was never really challenged, except during a biology course I took as an elective in my master's program. Actually, I worked harder as an undergrad than I ever did as a grad student.

    I left the program several years ago and I've had time (lots of it) to try out different jobs and think things over. I've had okay jobs but they all felt for a lack of better words-- blah. Now, we've moved to Louisville, where I've had a difficult time finding a job-- any job. It seems like all the jobs are in the medical or manufacturing field. A friend finally helped me land a very part-time gig helping a little girl with CP. We work on her independent living goals. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my little gal. But I'm basically a glorified nanny, and I want more.

    Ever since I was little I'd thought about being an RN. For some reason, I would just push it away. Toward the end of my master's program a very dear friend died in a car accident, and it was very tough on me, since I my 18-year-old uncle died the same way. I was talking to my grandma about it, and she told me that she had recently spoken to the girl who was my uncles fiance. She became a nurse because she wanted to help people who'd been in accidents. That stuck with me.

    I've been researching prerequisites, nursing school, advice, jobs, etc. I'm thinking about becoming a CNA to get some experience and see if this is for me. I have a friend who said she can get me a position where she works. Then, if it's a fit, I would apply for U of Louisville's Accelerated BSN program. I'm so excited about the thought of all of this. I haven't been this excited about something in a very, very long time.

    I know what a tough job nursing is. I know about tough jobs-- I worked my way through undergrad at an emergency children's shelter. Besides seeing horrific injuries to children, I've been--among other things--pooped on, peed on, thrown-up on, almost stabbed in the back, overwhelmed with paperwork, exhausted, and over-worked.

    I read the CNN article about nurses not being able to find jobs. Is it really that terrible?? I'm willing to work in nursing homes, whatever it takes in the beginning. I'm not the sort of person who thinks anything is beneath them.

    My husband is worried that I'll go through all of this (time and MORE student loans) and nothing will come of it.

    Advice. Thoughts. Anything is appreciated. I apologize for the length of this. But it feels so good to type all of this out.

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  2. 12 Comments...

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    Like you said, I think it's a tough job market period. I have friends who are teachers and can't find jobs, a friend with a journalism degree, and a massage therapist friend who is barely making it doing her own massages at home because she can't find a job elsewhere.

    Another factor is where you live. See if you can find job openings around your town.

    And if you don't mind making around 10 bucks an hr (could be more could be less) then being a CNA is a great way to get your feet wet, and also get a foot in the door with a potential employer after you finish nursing school.

    With all of that being said, I also have 2 graduate nurse friends who found jobs right off the bat. IMO, you will find a job EVENTUALLY, and if you have support from your husband (financially for a little while) it would be worth it to me to be happy. Life is short, do something you love.

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    Thanks, KD. I did a very broad search for "RN" on Indeed 20 miles around Louisville and 1,200 jobs came up. Now, I realize there's a wide variety of skill/experience and position types in those searches. And, if we happen to move back home to San Antonio, I think the prospects are even better. The same search came up with 2,000+ jobs. And, some of the listings I looked at even said new grads welcome.

    No, I don't mind making $10 an hour. We're fortunate enough that we can live fairly well off what my husband makes.

    Does anyone know what CNA training costs? I called my local Red Cross, and they said they don't give out that info by phone. I have to attend an info session, which they were supposed to send me an e-mail about. Haven't heard back, yet. I'm so excited I just want to get the ball rolling.
    Kdrenee likes this.
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    It IS tough to find a job as a nurse nowadays, but there's a job there somewhere. You just gotta avoid being too picky and wanting all the good stuff in the beginning. We all gotta start somewhere, and some of us just get lucky.

    Is there a way you can shadow a CNA or maybe an LVN...or heck maybe an RN? That's also a good way to get started.

    I wish you luck and keep us updated!
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    JuJu, shadowing is a great idea. I know a ton of nurses back in Texas, but not here. My friend who works at the children's home (she's in admin) but she might be able to set-up a shadow for me. They have CNA's all the way up to RN's. She once gave me a tour of the whole facility. I'm going to ask her when I see her this weekend.
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    It's only natural to question your career choices if you are unable to get a job in your chosen field. In view of your academic achievements, I have no doubt of your ability to successfully cope with the rigors of nursing education. BUT - Switching from an academic path to Nursing would be a complete 180 in terms of the nature of the work and working environment. Imagine working from 7pm to 7 am - including every other weekend; unable to join your family on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day because you have to work; forbidden to take more than 5 sequential days off at a time - this will be your reality.

    Keep in mind that nurses are the "workhorses" of healthcare in the US. We are the lowest level in the licensed hierarchy pecking order. Direct care nursing jobs have very little flexibility or autonomy. In addition to our own scope of practice, we are charged with carrying out unpleasant/tedious tasks delegated by higher-level professionals (who, under current reimbursement schemes, are actually paid for our work). The work is extremely physical - for 12 hours at a time in most inpatient settings. Nurses have enormous responsibility with very little authority; any rational person knows that this is a quick path to bahootie-ville, but this is our crazy-making world.

    According to the ANA, the number of nursing (RN) graduates produced each year has increased from just under 80,000 to nearly 170,000 in just the last few years... at the same time that nursing jobs are actually shrinking due to a number of economic factors. The end result is a glut of new grads in just about every part of the country. Most organizations are increasingly reluctant to hire new grads due to the high cost of initial training & very high turnover of this segment of employees. Those 'attractive' nursing jobs you envision are only available to nurses who have the right type of experience & getting there will entail luck as well as effort.

    Luckily for you, the academic credentials you have already achieved will never 'expire' so if nursing does not work out, you do have a fall-back. If you can afford it, give it a try - but don't say we didn't warn you.
    elkpark and joanna73 like this.
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    Quote from HouTx
    It's only natural to question your career choices if you are unable to get a job in your chosen field. In view of your academic achievements, I have no doubt of your ability to successfully cope with the rigors of nursing education. BUT - Switching from an academic path to Nursing would be a complete 180 in terms of the nature of the work and working environment. Imagine working from 7pm to 7 am - including every other weekend; unable to join your family on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day because you have to work; forbidden to take more than 5 sequential days off at a time - this will be your reality.
    Thanks so much for your input. I really, really appreciate your honesty. I think part of my challenge will be learning how to work like that again. I did it during my undergrad and at times it was tough. Going to work at 2pm and getting off at 6am the next day to go to an 8am biology class.

    I actually never had a job in my field, except as a grad assistant. Most of what I did was social work related because of my volunteer experience and connections back in Texas. I was also a nanny. And it was all mediocre....it paid the bills.

    My husband and I don't have children, and I've come to accept the reality that there's a chance that might not happen.

    I just really want something that I am so passionate about, something that has meaning, because then I'm willing to work very, very hard. Something that is going to challenge me. I feel that I'm a very smart person, but all of that is going down the drain because I'm not using it. Something that pays well-enough to pay my student loans down and save money (we live pretty simply). Something that can potentially be done anywhere no matter where we live. Because I hate to admit this (and I NEVER thought I'd be this person), right now, my husband's career comes first. Something to get me out of the babysitter trap I've found myself in. And something more meaningful than office work.

    See, I got my master's in geography, because I didn't know what in the hell I wanted to do. And, then when I graduated from that and I still didn't know, so I went along with PhD and being a professor seemed okay enough. Even if I wanted to finish my PhD there are no programs around here. And even if I did, I still don't think I'd find much meaning in it in the end and the job situation wouldn't be any better.

    Most people I know love their jobs or are at least passionate about their field and can see themselves moving up. I want that. I just feel so, so, so stuck.

    Wow....I needed to say all of that. Haha.
  9. 0
    My CNA course cost around $600
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    My CNA class was about $650 in Lexington. It's about an hour away from Louisville, and it was a two week "fast" class. If you don't mind driving an hour there and an hour back every day, I highly recommend contacting them. My course instructor was awesome, and most of the nurses I know that got their CNA during nursing school got it there. They all had RN jobs prior to graduating their nursing programs too. They are called Bluegrass Nurse Aide Training Center if you're interested. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy becoming a CNA :-)
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    Thanks! The Red Cross just sent me the info. It's also two weeks as well. I'm going to an info session next Wed. I don't know if I can do the drive to Lexington, just because I have another job and have to pick the kids up from school. The CNA job I'm thinking of applying for is on weekends. I'd jump into it more, but I just started working with this family in October and I hate to leave them hanging.


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