Career changers - is it worth the change? Career changers - is it worth the change? | allnurses

Career changers - is it worth the change?

  1. 0 To all career changers,

    Some of you are just starting (taking pre-reqs), some of you are already in the nursing programs, and others are already working as RNs. As a career changer myself, and at the beginning stages of this journey, I would like to know if the changing of the careers was worth it.

    The reason I am asking is no matter where I turn all I hear is how nursing is awful. I have been teaching for years and I cannot do it anymore (another story for another thread), so I decided to do nursing. I feel like once I get myself deep into it I would hate to regret the decision.

    In any event, those of you that are at the beginning stages and some already working, was it worth the career change? I would very much appreciate if anyone shared their experiences.

    Thank you!
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. Visit  emmjayy profile page
    #1 1
    Don't regret it so far! I get a lot of personal fulfillment out of helping people in tangible ways, though.

    Why do you want to be a nurse?
  4. Visit  FutureNurseInfo profile page
    #2 3
    Quote from emmjayy
    Don't regret it so far! I get a lot of personal fulfillment out of helping people in tangible ways, though.

    Why do you want to be a nurse?
    Not that you may be interested in my life story, but since you asked...

    From the age of 14 I was enrolled in a specialized high school where I majored in the nursing science. (The school was in Russia). Upon graduation I got my HS diploma as well as nursing certificate (10 years ago that was it). However, I never followed through, and decided to go the teacher route. Everything was fine and 7 years later I still enjoy working with the kids. However, if you know anything about the state of education affairs in the US, NY state especially (teacher evaluations, uncertainty of job availability, too much to be done in too little time, etc), I am sure you will understand. Recently, I have been reinspired to pursue nursing. I hope to, of course, work in Peds.

    As a career changer at this stage of my life (I am 30), making such a decision to pursue nursing, I cannot make a mistake and then regret it later. I do honestly believe I can make a great nurse and truly enjoy being one, especially working with the kids. However, as a human being I still have this lurking feeling deep within my soul that keeps nagging at my "doubts" nerve.
  5. Visit  Capa Jensen profile page
    #3 2
    In the beginning stages here; 30 years old and doing a complete switch.

    It's worth it. The late nights, the very limited 'me' time (I make sure to maintain enough to get to the gym though), and even feeling like my head is going to explode if I try to put more information into it is all 100% worth it to me.

    I honestly find it easier this time around as a 'mature' student - I'm more focused, I've had more life experience and I know what's on the line if I don't apply myself.

    I think we're all going to have that nagging doubt of 'what iiiiif~?' it's natural - but as long as you know deep down what you want to do, then do it!
  6. Visit  emmjayy profile page
    #4 2
    Funny - I live in NYS and am quite aware of the pressures teachers endure (my brother teaches at an academy in the state). I started nursing school at 26 and abandoned a fairly okay career for it - I also felt some nagging doubts at first but now that I'm in the thick of it I feel it was the right thing to do.

    If worse comes to worst and you hate bedside nursing (which is what most people think of when they think of being a nurse), there are so many other options out there - such as being a school nurse!! the great thing about nursing is that it is such a diverse career and you can do many different things with it thanks to all the many different specialties that exist within the umbrella of nursing.
  7. Visit  Nature_walker profile page
    #5 4
    I'm a former teacher and now a nurse. I love what I do now! I have found that while the work is hard, I'm so much happier than when I was teaching. I find it very rewarding. Good luck in your endeavors!
  8. Visit  HarleyGrandma profile page
    #6 5
    I'm 51, and just finished my first semester of my ADN program and I love it! I was so nervous about being so much older than the other students but after the first few days it wasn't an issue. We were all in the boat together, trying not to drown

    The good Lord willing I'm going to turn 52, 53, 54...etc with or without an RN...so why not do it with an RN?!

    Go for it!!
  9. Visit  pmabraham profile page
    #7 3
    No matter the field, you are going to run into people who state "don't go there."

    Nursing is a career change for me (approximately 30 years in IT and customer service). It is worth it.
  10. Visit  bethcny profile page
    #8 2
    Well, I'm 45 and hope to enter nursing school in the Fall of 2017. Doing my pre-reqs now.

    I agree with the poster who essentially said "I'll be 47 eventually, might as well be 47 with my RN."

    This is what I've wanted to do for years - this is what I played at as a child, and this is where I know I belong - I'm only annoyed it took me this long to get here...but that's another story.

    Good luck!!
  11. Visit  la_chica_suerte85 profile page
    #9 3
    For me, yes, it was definitely worth the change. I came from retail and was going to eventually either salary myself out of being marketable (i.e. being let go because I was too expensive -- and it wasn't even that much money) or have to go to a bigger company and work my way up into corporate (which, after being in retail for 14 years, I knew I was never going to want to be in a position of making others' lives miserable the way mine was made).

    For you, I'm curious about why you want out of teaching and why you perceive nursing to be a potential choice. If it's because you like taking care of people and have a bleeding heart for the masses and that hasn't gotten you anywhere in your teaching career, then I will caution you. I'm a new nurse but I've seen the writing on the wall plenty of times. Those of us who are the exceptionally compassionate, I do EVERYTHING for my patients and I'm a martyr types burn out quickly. Nursing is a business, just like retail, and there is little room for emotional energy to be involved (there is a little bit and it should be reserved for your patients in carefully measured amounts). During leadership quarter I was told by instructors that I would some day make a great 'nurse leader.' No. Never. I will never have manager/director of anything attached to my name. Then again, I said I'd never work in peds hemonc but here we are. I never worked in peds hemonc before, though. I've been a manager before so I know what's up. Anyway, I'm rambling...

    Assuming you are comfortable with the business model of medicine tying your hands with how much you truly are able to do for your patients and you are capable of assuming the responsibility (and potential liability) of your patients' care, nursing might be a good fit for you. Nursing is hard work. There are days where I can't believe how much I sleep because I'm so tired from a string of 3 or 4 shifts in a row (and I don't even work in a specialty that is all that particularly demanding -- it's really the mental energy that gets drained). But, I make enough money to finally be back at that salary I almost got myself fired out of and I appreciate all of the intellectual and professional pursuits I'll one day be able to take part of (some sooner than later). I love my hospital. I love the people I work with. I love my patients and their families. Though I experienced a moderate bout of moral distress toward the end of this year, a recent change to night shift pretty much purged that from my consciousness. That, on it's own is hard (and was complicated by having bronchitis during Christmas -- almost made it through the year without getting sick -- darn) but it's not as hard as it seems. Nothing in nursing has to be if you do a lot of careful planning while in school.

    So, should you decide to pursue nursing, I want you to keep these things in mind:
    1) Be careful about the school you choose (No for-profit schools!!! Just don't! Something is going on with for-profit schools and that's just not a game you want to play.) - you likely already have a 4-year degree so you can either go and get a 2nd one at the same school where you already have a lot of pre-reqs done and save yourself time and money or find an ELM school and get a Masters directly. Usually experienced nurses will say this is not a preferred way of doing it but I'm in residency with a lot of ELMs and the only difference between them and me is that they get 2 extra quarters more on their differential than I do for my BSN. We are all entry-level, new grad nurses and no one is better than anyone else. As an aside, I would caution about getting your ADN unless you are 100% sure that there are hospitals constantly hiring ADNs (and will be hiring when you graduate and not expecting you to bridge to your BSN later on).

    2) Your clinicals may not be the best places to consider starting your career, but keep in mind that each clinical day is like a job interview. That said, if you know of a hospital you can shadow at and you happen to really like a certain floor, look at trying to get a job as a patient care tech during school and that way you can segue yourself into a new grad spot (you'll also have a better idea about what you're getting into when you actually start working as an RN. Nursing is competitive and it's extremely hard for new grads to find a job with minimal preparation after graduation. Everything you do for your career starts well before you graduate.

    3) Have fun during nursing school. Going back for a second degree I took it as an opportunity to do college over in a better way. I networked. I was involved on campus. I interfaced with administration a whole bunch (too much, but it was part of the job). I learned for the love of learning. I had a blast. It was terribly stressful and there were times where I just wanted to go back to retail because, as much of a rat race it was, it was the misery I knew. But, I knew it was too much misery to take and nursing school couldn't hold a candle to that. Hold on to whatever is making you leave teaching because you will need that to get through the BS of nursing school. The academic part isn't that hard. It's the "flexibility" requirements that nursing school imposes on you. Scheduling can be hectic, things can change on you at the drop of a hat, there can be a lot of Machiavellian requirements and behavior on behalf of faculty and administration and it's just shocking at how many adults are so bad at adulting. But, you'll make it through.

    Good luck!
  12. Visit  SopranoKris profile page
    #10 2
    I went back to school to pursue nursing when I was 43. I was 45 when I graduated and now I'm 47. There are positives and negatives to changing careers later in life.

    Positives
    * I was very serious about my academic performance and didn't waste time goofing off
    * I had the maturity to have a more professional demeanor than some of the younger students, which served me well in clinicals
    * I already knew how to interview well, so I landed my "dream" job right after I got my RN license
    * It can be personally fulfilling/rewarding to work as a nurse
    * Life-long learning: there is ALWAYS something new to learn, can pursue an advanced degree (MSN, FNP, DNP, etc.)
    * There are some patients you'll remember forever
    * Getting to work on a unit you love (for me, that's the ICU)
    * Great benefits/pay (depending on where you work)

    Negatives
    * 12 hour shifts that are non-stop, back-breakingly busy, with no time to eat/pee
    * Management that doesn't care if you're short-staffed, the responsibility falls on you
    * Patients who treat you like a waitress, rude family members
    * If you're a night shifter (most new grads are), it can be tough to be "normal" on your days off
    * Being in my 40s, my muscles ache and I'm sore at the end of a hard day, especially when I have bariatric patients
    * Paying your dues on a unit that you just don't enjoy. It felt like a jail sentence working on one particular unit.

    There are *always* going to be drawbacks to any career. It just depends on what's a "fit" for you. When I started my first nursing job, I was on a unit I loved and I was excited to go to work each day. A different unit in the hospital lost some staff (7 nurses quit at one time) and I was forced to transfer to that unit to cover because I was new. I hated that unit. It wasn't where I wanted to be, morale was low, we were always short-staffed and it made me question why I became a nurse. The opportunity arose to transfer to my dream unit and I absolutely love my job again.

    Being a nurse is a TOUGH job. There will be days/nights when you will feel mentally/physically beat up. There are days you will cry. There are days you will laugh. There are days where you will be amazed at your great team members. There will be days where your favorite patient dies. There will be days when you have the grumpiest, meanest patient you've ever met and the shift feels like it's 24 hours, not 12. Just know that even though it's not easy, it certainly can be personally rewarding.

    Good luck on your journey
  13. Visit  FutureNurseInfo profile page
    #11 1
    Quote from la_chica_suerte85
    For me, yes, it was definitely worth the change. I came from retail and was going to eventually either salary myself out of being marketable (i.e. being let go because I was too expensive -- and it wasn't even that much money) or have to go to a bigger company and work my way up into corporate (which, after being in retail for 14 years, I knew I was never going to want to be in a position of making others' lives miserable the way mine was made).

    For you, I'm curious about why you want out of teaching and why you perceive nursing to be a potential choice. If it's because you like taking care of people and have a bleeding heart for the masses and that hasn't gotten you anywhere in your teaching career, then I will caution you. I'm a new nurse but I've seen the writing on the wall plenty of times. Those of us who are the exceptionally compassionate, I do EVERYTHING for my patients and I'm a martyr types burn out quickly. Nursing is a business, just like retail, and there is little room for emotional energy to be involved (there is a little bit and it should be reserved for your patients in carefully measured amounts). During leadership quarter I was told by instructors that I would some day make a great 'nurse leader.' No. Never. I will never have manager/director of anything attached to my name. Then again, I said I'd never work in peds hemonc but here we are. I never worked in peds hemonc before, though. I've been a manager before so I know what's up. Anyway, I'm rambling...

    Assuming you are comfortable with the business model of medicine tying your hands with how much you truly are able to do for your patients and you are capable of assuming the responsibility (and potential liability) of your patients' care, nursing might be a good fit for you. Nursing is hard work. There are days where I can't believe how much I sleep because I'm so tired from a string of 3 or 4 shifts in a row (and I don't even work in a specialty that is all that particularly demanding -- it's really the mental energy that gets drained). But, I make enough money to finally be back at that salary I almost got myself fired out of and I appreciate all of the intellectual and professional pursuits I'll one day be able to take part of (some sooner than later). I love my hospital. I love the people I work with. I love my patients and their families. Though I experienced a moderate bout of moral distress toward the end of this year, a recent change to night shift pretty much purged that from my consciousness. That, on it's own is hard (and was complicated by having bronchitis during Christmas -- almost made it through the year without getting sick -- darn) but it's not as hard as it seems. Nothing in nursing has to be if you do a lot of careful planning while in school.

    So, should you decide to pursue nursing, I want you to keep these things in mind:
    1) Be careful about the school you choose (No for-profit schools!!! Just don't! Something is going on with for-profit schools and that's just not a game you want to play.) - you likely already have a 4-year degree so you can either go and get a 2nd one at the same school where you already have a lot of pre-reqs done and save yourself time and money or find an ELM school and get a Masters directly. Usually experienced nurses will say this is not a preferred way of doing it but I'm in residency with a lot of ELMs and the only difference between them and me is that they get 2 extra quarters more on their differential than I do for my BSN. We are all entry-level, new grad nurses and no one is better than anyone else. As an aside, I would caution about getting your ADN unless you are 100% sure that there are hospitals constantly hiring ADNs (and will be hiring when you graduate and not expecting you to bridge to your BSN later on).

    2) Your clinicals may not be the best places to consider starting your career, but keep in mind that each clinical day is like a job interview. That said, if you know of a hospital you can shadow at and you happen to really like a certain floor, look at trying to get a job as a patient care tech during school and that way you can segue yourself into a new grad spot (you'll also have a better idea about what you're getting into when you actually start working as an RN. Nursing is competitive and it's extremely hard for new grads to find a job with minimal preparation after graduation. Everything you do for your career starts well before you graduate.

    3) Have fun during nursing school. Going back for a second degree I took it as an opportunity to do college over in a better way. I networked. I was involved on campus. I interfaced with administration a whole bunch (too much, but it was part of the job). I learned for the love of learning. I had a blast. It was terribly stressful and there were times where I just wanted to go back to retail because, as much of a rat race it was, it was the misery I knew. But, I knew it was too much misery to take and nursing school couldn't hold a candle to that. Hold on to whatever is making you leave teaching because you will need that to get through the BS of nursing school. The academic part isn't that hard. It's the "flexibility" requirements that nursing school imposes on you. Scheduling can be hectic, things can change on you at the drop of a hat, there can be a lot of Machiavellian requirements and behavior on behalf of faculty and administration and it's just shocking at how many adults are so bad at adulting. But, you'll make it through.

    Good luck!

    First of all, thanks everyone for words of encouragement and sharing your personal stories!

    To answer some of the questions from the posts...

    At age 24 I got my BA in teaching and I was lucky (I thought!) enough to get my first teaching job right after I graduated! I was on the top of the world! I was to teach freshmen and sophomores at one high school in Bushwick area of Brooklyn. As a new grad full of hope and desire to save the world, I was hit with the shocking reality of what teaching in the toughest areas of Brooklyn was really like. On my first day I already knew I was screwed. Four months later I developed a horrible case of acne that plagued my face due to enormous amount of stress (diagnosed by the doc). Pretty much every other day I would feel miserable getting up and getting to work, as well as cry (and I am a male!) in the teacher's lounge while no one was watching. I was not able to connect with the students who, I felt like, were bound to make my life miserable. And to top it off, the admin was brutal: no support and constant evaluations - all made me realize I did not belong in teaching, at least in high school. There was one, however, teacher who saw and witness my misery so she suggested I could try elementary school because I "was very creative with lesson plans and decorating the bulletin boards". I took her advice, but I was not able to land that elementary teacher job for two years. While searching for that permanent job, I decided to go back to school and get my master's. Granted now I look at it as a waste of my time and money, back then it seemed like a good idea. So, I went to school to get my Master's in Childhood Education. (My first degree was in teaching English to students of other languages, ESL). While going to school I was subbing here and there in many elementary schools in Queens, NY. To tell you the truth, I once again fell in love with teaching! I truly enjoyed working with little ones. I do not know how to explain this but I felt like a father figure to them. Even though the little ones were and still are (I am still teaching) so handful, I enjoyed every minute of it. Lucky for me I was spotted by one of the principals who invited me to interview. I did and was praised to have so much passion and high level of pedagogy knowledge that they "had to have me right there and then!" So, I have been working with that school for 3 years now and I can tell that the kids are great, and still enjoy working with the kids, and that is ALL that I enjoy. Now, to the things I hate about teaching:
    1. Even though my official contractual hours are 8-2:20, I work, on average, 2-3 extra hours per day (I report to work by 7 am and leave at 4 pm the earliest).
    2. O constantly work on weekends (on what comes later).
    3. As much as I love recognition, I hate to take on extra responsibilities when I have no time to fulfill them. For example, I was tasked to provide professional development opportunities to new teachers every Monday! Also, I was assigned to mentor 3 other new teachers for at least 2 hours per week! I was truly honored for such recognition, but I physically had no time in my busy week to do all of that. And, I had to write reports to account for every minute of each task.
    4. The dreaded lesson plans! I would not lie, I am very skilled at differentiation but writing 30+ differentiated lessons (7 pages each) per week was a nightmare!
    5. Even though most parents are very nice, they do not follow through on discipline and academic intervention plans that I spent so much time and energy putting together. For example, if the child is 2 grade levels below and I prepared an intervention plan to address it, I would need parents help. They seem to agree and promise to follow through. However, weeks later they just shrug off and point fingers.
    6. Many people think that teachers have so much free time off. They are WRONG! very Christmas break, or spring break, I constantly work. I plan lessons for weeks in advance. I attend PDs and do extracurricular activities to help the kids catch up on academics. Summers off? Forget it! Though not required, teachers are encouraged to take more PD opportunities which can last 2-4 weeks at a time.
    7. Finally, the dreaded teacher evaluations. Even though I my teaching practice is stellar, I am too tired to be tied to my students' academic performance. My job is dependent on it. Just because my students' test scores may not be high enough, my job for the next year is now in jeopardy. Do I want to live like this for the next 20 years? I think not.

    Now, many will say, well, everything I despise about teaching is mostly resemblant with nursing. I do agree! I do agree I will deal with unruly patients as well as their parents/relatives. I also know that administration will probably suck which is why there are too many patients per one nurse. I know there will be a lot of paperwork! I know I will be required to continue my education! I also know my performance will be evaluation on an ongoing basis. Finally, I know I will be dead tired after those long shifts!

    So, it looks like I trade one miserable job for another. But I feel like I will be happier doing nursing. I can transfer many, of not, all of my teaching skills into nursing. Also, I would like to work with the kids, and my passion for working with them is still here, but I will treat it is a job. I will come in and bust my butt to do the best care possible, but once I clock out I will forget about it till the next time I clock in. I may be rumbling now but deep down I feel like I can do it and most likely enjoy it (once I find my niche!)

    So, yeah, thank you all for reading this thus far! Once again, I really appreciate everyone's input!
  14. Visit  Ruby Vee profile page
    #12 7
    Quote from FutureNurseInfo
    To all career changers,

    Some of you are just starting (taking pre-reqs), some of you are already in the nursing programs, and others are already working as RNs. As a career changer myself, and at the beginning stages of this journey, I would like to know if the changing of the careers was worth it.

    The reason I am asking is no matter where I turn all I hear is how nursing is awful. I have been teaching for years and I cannot do it anymore (another story for another thread), so I decided to do nursing. I feel like once I get myself deep into it I would hate to regret the decision.

    In any event, those of you that are at the beginning stages and some already working, was it worth the career change? I would very much appreciate if anyone shared their experiences.

    Thank you!
    Nursing is far from awful. You need to remember that satisfied, happy people aren't hunched over their laptops in the middle of the night typing away about how satisfied and happy they are. (OK, you got me there. Here I am, after years of night shift, typing away in the middle of the night and I'm happy!) The majority of posts on any forum are going to be negative. People who are angry are going to do a lot of ranting; and even if they change their minds tomorrow and realize that things weren't really so awful after all, they're unlikely to come back to the thread they've started and say "Hey, I just gave it some thought and I was wrong." No, they're going to come back and comment when they've thought of MORE ammunition for their rant.

    So lets look at some of the complaints, and see how you, personally feel about these potential negatives:

    Nurses are mean bullies who have no compassion for students; they're burned out old dogs who can't learn new tricks and ought to just retire and get out of my way. They're mean old biter nurses, and they're nothing but crusty old bats.

    We hear that a lot on this forum. The truth of the matter is that there are a few bullies out there -- I've seen two in forty years. But mostly what these posters are calling bullying is nothing of the sort. "My preceptor talks about her family with all of her friends, but she won't share with me." (She just met you last week; these people have been her friends for years.) "She wouldn't say hello to me in the lobby this morning." (Did you say hello to her? No? Well, she drives to work in her glasses, leaves them in her car and then stumbles up to the unit to put her contacts in before work. I'd lay odds she didn't even SEE you."
    Nurses should take me under their wing and teach me. It's your orientation; you are an adult. Figure out with your preceptor what you need to learn and discuss with your preceptor how you can get the learning experiences you need. Take ownership of your orientation. Preceptors aren't magical beings who can take care of a full assignment while spoon feeding you just the tidbits you need. And besides; it's not all about you. If the patient starts to go south while I'm patiently trying to explain to you how to do a 12 lead ECG, I may just take over from you and do the damned thing already so we can give it to the doc, make some decisions and get some orders.

    My preceptor wouldn't let me help when the patient was coding. How am I supposed to lear if she just takes over? It's about the patient, not your learning needs. If caring for the patient pre-empts your education, then your preceptor got her priorities right. Some preceptors can educate a new grad WHILE saving their patient, but those paragons are few and far between. Live with the preceptor you get.

    My preceptor made me feel stupid, and he shouldn't do that. He should be kind to me and make me feel welcome on the unit. Your preceptor just caught your third insulin error. When he called the first error to your attention, you giggled and said you didn't mean to do that. The second time, you got defensive and the third time he had an idea that you didn't take it seriously enough. today. An insulin error, especially by adding a couple of zeroes to the dose, could KILL a patient. Hopefully you get that now.

    Nursing is an interesting, challenging career with myriad opportunities and flexible scheduling with good pay and benefits. It is also a career that demands much of you: You will miss Christmas, possibly every other year. (That's OK -- Santa comes when YOU say he comes, and your kids might get two Christmases.) You will miss the 4th of July neighborhood block party and possibly your best friends gender reveal party. (How did THAT get to be a thing anyway?) You'll work nights, weekend, holidays and you'll have to drive to work in rain, in snow, in hurricane and volcanic eruptions. Many people come through nursing school and start their new jobs with NO idea that could really happen. Think about how you'd feel about missing all those family celebrations (or having them rescheduled when you can attend). If you need an excuse to miss Thanksgiving at Uncle Edgar and Aunt Ellie's house every year because Ellie always get drunk and maudlin while Edgar gets drunk and belligerent, work is a good excuse and no one can hold it against you. (Personally, I'd arrive just in time for turkey dinner, wearing scrubs, and disappear when the eating was done and before the fighting started. But your milage may vary.) You can, however, take your birthday off every year, your wedding anniversary and the day your dog needs to be put to sleep. The year Dad was dying, I found someone to switch with me so I could buy a frozen turkey and haul it and all the Thanksgiving fixings 900 miles in a cooler to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my father. (Mom had Alzheimers; she couldn't remember how to cook or how to eat.) Your office friends won't do that for you, and they probably wouldn't even see the need. But I got to spend a wonderful weekend with my dad, talking about all of the things we needed to talk about, and when he wound up in the ER having achieved a simultaneous MI and CVA, I was able to say goodbye knowing he was ready. Nursing is a wonderful career where you can touch lives, save lives, change lives. If you love it, it will love you back. But you sort of have to be strong enough to let the bovine feces roll of your back, deal straightforwardly with folks who cannot be straightforward with you, and learn to see the advantages in the hours, something to enjoy in the work and something to like in each coworker. If you can do that, it will be well worth the change. If not, perhaps you can find something to love in your present career.

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