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Future plans versus the unexpected future


Hello everyone! In nursing school, I developed a plan of what my life would look like after I graduate, for example, do ICU, be a travel nurse, go back to school and become a nurse anesthetist, etc. At the same time, I also know that our plans almost never work out exactly the way we want them to and so I'm also expecting my life to go on a completely different route. I'm so excited but also really terrified on what my life will turn out to be after I graduate in May. And so I'm wondering, did anything unexpected happened in your nursing careers that you just never even thought about? I would love to hear your stories!!! Thanks! :)

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

Life is what happens when you're making plans. I'm currently in the process of possibly leaving direct patient care. It's not something I had planned on doing for several more years, but my work politics are making that more and more desirable right now.


Has 2 years experience.

I ended up as a psych nurse!

This was never in my plans (NICU RN to NNP), but I couldn't be happier :)


Specializes in ICU, LTACH, Internal Medicine. Has 8 years experience.

Want to make God laughing? Tell Him about your plans!

Really, life happens in the most unexpected ways and our roads are going on and on. While you are in school, try to get exposed to as many areas of nursing as possible so that you know, in general, what you like and what you not. Not in terms "I want to work ONLY in ICU" but: do you love action? adrenaline rush? procedures? to just hold someone's hands and chat about life?

And then, just be open for opportunities. They are everywhere, and some are less than commonly known. I am currently besieged by a company which looks for nurses to work on cruise ships. Definitely not my cup of tea, but maybe someone will enjoy it?

~Mi Vida Loca~RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

I had my heart set on being a forensic detective in the FBI. I toured Quantico (this was before CSI and all those shows) and I fell in LOVE. My family thought I would end up being a medical examiner. Nursing was NEVER on my radar although I always loved the reality ER shows. I think it used to be called Trauma life in the ER. I always thought that would be a badarse job.

When I decided to go to Nursing school I thought for sure I would be a L&D nurse, I was good at having babies, was involved in many births of friends and was very well educated with pregnancy and birth and my backup was to work Emergency Trauma. Well rotation in clinicals taught me there is no way I could handle L&D right now. Maybe transition nurse would have been cool but I found myself working Emergency Trauma and as much as I love it, I felt I peaked there and was no longer learning anything new or being challenged. I wanted to travel and experience other ER's in other states and I did that too. So now I am reconsidering where I want to go or what I want to do.

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 10 years experience.

For me, the unexpected happened (and continues to happen) in my personal life. And in turn that effects my career. I'm in my current job not out of any particular passion or desire, but out of convenience and necessity to meet my financial and familial needs. It's great to have plans and goals, but only a small part of life is the choices we make, the rest is determined by what is put before us- by God, by fate, by coincidence- whatever your beliefs happen to be.

Nature_walker, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in psych. Has 5 years experience.

I'm second career nurse. I never thought I'd be a nurse. I was a teacher. Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls. Honestly, I couldn't be happier. Everyone thought since I had worked with kids that I'd go into peds. I enjoyed my peds rotation, but I knew it wasn't for me. I'm an emergency psych nurse and I love what I do! I'm glad it turned out the way it.


Specializes in Family Medicine, Tele/Cardiac, Camp. Has 10 years experience.

And so I'm wondering, did anything unexpected happened in your nursing careers that you just never even thought about? I would love to hear your stories!!! Thanks! :)

Oh so very constantly. And it's been wonderful. I actually found my "here-is-where-I-will-be-in-10-years" list that I made when I graduated from nursing school 11 years ago. According to that list, I was going to get a ton of experience in ER nursing, travel the US, UK, and Australia as a traveling nurse, and end up working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the outback. All very cool, workable, and noble ambitions. And I could have.

But, instead, many of my circumstances changed. Relationships changed. Family changed. My health changed. I grew in different ways. I did a lot more focusing on my life than I thought I would. And, professionally, ended up wearing all kind of nursing hats from med surg to ortho to cardiac to camp to pedi home care. But never ER. And I'm not living and working in the outback either. After almost a year of primary care burnout, I work at a MinuteClinic as a FNP and I absolutely love it.

Life is indeed what happens when you're busy making other plans. Keep dreaming and work toward your goals. You're at a wonderful place in your life. But know that it's very possible your dreams will change too. And that's entirely okay.

Welcome to nursing. :)

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

My plan was very similar to yours. I wanted to go to ICU so I could go to CRNA school, etc.

I do love ICU. I knew I would. I knew having eight people on the call bell in med/surg would be so soul draining for me that I would be miserable all the time - props to all the med/surg nurses! Med/surg nurses around here can have as many as 12 patients a shift, especially on nights. It's awful. I also knew I didn't want to take the lowball salaries of a nurse in a physician's office or school, and I don't really like getting to know my patients that well, so working in LTC was out. I find people having active hallucinations terrifying, so psych wouldn't have worked, either. I think I picked the best path for me as a nurse right away.

Looking at CRNAs, though, I think it would kill me inside to just intubate and drop art lines, then sit there just watching monitors in the OR. I like moving around and doing things. The thought of just sitting there watching monitors and titrating drips, day in and day out, for hours at a time... I'm quite sure I'd kill somebody out of sheer boredom. It's not for me.

I thought I would travel after a couple of years, before I applied for CRNA school... but then I got in a serious relationship, and other people's jobs aren't as flexible as nursing (unless you date another travel nurse) as far as picking up and moving every 12-16 weeks goes. My biggest regret as a nurse now is probably that I'm never going to get to travel.

I'm back in school now for something totally different. Hopefully it works out.

Ha! Yes, plans are good to have, but life has a way of changing your direction.

I am also a second career nurse. My plan was to get in do my year of MS, then go to the ER. I wanted to be a trauma nurse. What actually happened was that I had difficulty getting in to a hospital like many nurses that graduated when I did. I ended up doing skilled care in a rehab on the medicare and dementia floors. Then home health came my way. I kept saying home health was something I saw later in my career, it wasn't what I wanted.

One day after I was developing some comfort with being a home health nurse I was in my car after seeing a patient and I got teary. I realized at that moment how much I loved my job and that I was doing exactly what I wanted to and that was the reason I became a nurse. I find my job very fulfilling. I love the amount of time I can spend with each patient and how much I can influence their health. Now, whether they listen is sometimes a different story.

So I am about 180 degrees from where I wanted to be, but I'm exactly where I need and want to be.

The future is God's, what do you fear? He'll always look after you, even if you don't get all that you think you want. Whether you win some or lose some, He will never abandon you :)