After Nursing: Is There Life Out There?

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    Some musings from a nurse in her mid-fifties who learns that she faces the possibility of losing the best nursing job she's ever held.......and ponders the question of whether it's time to make this 'best' nursing job her *last* nursing job.

    I knew it was too good to last forever.

    Today, in a meeting with my company's regional director of operations and the corporate nurse consultant, my Executive Director and I learned that we will both probably be let go if our building doesn't pass our re-survey next month. We got our butts handed to us during the exit interview last time, and we've had some challenges that have put us behind schedule in getting the new programs up and running in response to the problems found during the inspection. The timing couldn't possibly be worse; we expect the survey team back at any time after the first week of March, and we simply aren't finished fixing everything, let alone learning how to use all the new paperwork that Corporate put in place to address the documentation issues.

    Neither of us was surprised; we're both longtime directors, and this is a place we've both been before. The proverbial handwriting is on the wall.

    Still, the discussion had a surreal quality to it, especially before my boss was summoned to join the RDO, corporate nurse and me in my office. The RDO sat down in the floor supervisor's chair and gazed straight at me with his head cocked to the side, looking for all the world like a certain physician I see fairly frequently, and asked me the same type of questions Dr. So-and-so always does.

    "Are you OK?" he wanted to know, speaking in a tone that was more concerned than condemning. "How are you doing? I mean, how are you really doing.'' He was to repeat these queries at several more junctures during the conversation, which made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I have never felt the need to inform Corporate about my personal health issues, but I got the sense that he knew everything and was just waiting for me to come clean.

    Fortunately, this was NOT my first rodeo, and since I don't use my 'nonconformity' as an excuse for being remiss in my duties, I said nothing along that line, only that I'm very stressed out and frustrated at the circumstances under which I'm working at this point.

    Which brought to mind something I promised myself back in 2010 when I realized that I'd lucked into the best nursing job ever: that this was it. This was the job I would retire from. Little did I know that this statement would come back to haunt me as I approach late middle age and realize how great are the odds against finding another nursing job. Especially one I can actually handle.

    I'm old. I'm tired. I'm cynical. I'm a train wreck, both physically AND mentally. And I've decided that if I do end up in the unemployment line, I'm done.

    As much as I've loved nursing, I know my days are numbered even if I do squeak through this crisis. I'm far too prickly now to just stand back and co-sign people's BS. I'm easily distracted and tend to lose focus when faced with piles of paperwork. I'm quickly overwhelmed, and easily undone by the stressors inherent in the work. Plus, I'm at an age where it's time to think about what I want out of my later years. Hmm, let's see....should I enjoy my home and family, or would I rather go on forever with the 50-hour weeks? And how long will my mind and body hold out if I continue to put myself through this day after day, month after month, year after year?

    I don't know.

    What I do know is, I need a Plan B. Of course I'll continue to work hard at keeping my job, because I really do enjoy it a good portion of the time (and the pay isn't half bad either). And if I do come through intact, I'm staying where I am until I can't take even one more snotty patient or irate family member. But I am just not going to put myself through another round of interviews for nursing positions.....if I can even get them, that is. I have an associate's degree, bad knees, and flat feet that can't run the floors anymore. A few years ago I could, and did, get away with it because my experience was so varied; now it's a different story, and with my lack of advanced education I'd be lucky to find a swing-shift job in a nursing home. Which I can't do. Great.

    So, to assist me in redirecting my energies, I'd like to know what you all think would be a good job for me. I mean, besides Wal-Mart greeter (which I don't think they even have anymore) and carnival barker. What do you think I could do that would make me reasonably happy AND keep my husband and me off the streets? I don't need a career anymore, but a job paying a living wage is a necessity.

    I look forward to your responses. (Friendly reminder: they do need to be in reasonably good taste, of course.) Thanks!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 8, '15
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    About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide

    Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 26,940; Likes: 44,632
    RN and blogger extraordinaire; from OR , US
    Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych

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  3. by   tnbutterfly
    No matter what you do or where you go, you will always be a nurse at heart........caring and compassionate as always......because that is YOU!!!!!!!!

    You still have a lot to offer.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 8, '13
  4. by   nurseprnRN
    Quote from VivaLasViejas

    I look forward to your responses. (Friendly reminder: they do need to be in reasonably good taste, of course.) Thanks!

    You are NO FUN AT ALL. That totally limits my options.

    Good luck, dear. I won't give you all that God-closes-a-door crap (sometimes the thing that opens is a window ) but if I've learned anything in mumblemumble years of being a nurse, it's that we generally land on our feet.

    PM me about being an expert witness for SNF standard of care cases.
  5. by   tnbutterfly
    Oh expert witness would be great!!!!!! You have more than enough experience...........
  6. by   BSNbeauty
    How about teaching cnas in clinical a or classroom. My mom has adn, no longer cares to work in bedside and found this job to be less stress physically and mentally. She loves it!!! Telephonic nursing ? You have paid your dues. I empathize with you.
  7. by   SoldierNurse22
    Viva, so sorry to hear you're dealing with this and that conditions haven't improved fast enough for corporate to give things their seal of approval. I haven't known you long, but have you thought about counseling or something in the mental health field? Perhaps something that involves you assisting nurses who deal with mental health issues? I've always thought your honest introspection and passion for representing a population of the nursing profession that is frequently marginalized, ignored and ostracized are an great contributions to the profession. I'd hate to see you leave.
  8. by   Esme12
    Viva.....God only knows I would be a millionaire if I had the answer. I'm with GrnTea....I can't give the one door closes and another opens either and you know why.

    I think you should do the expert witness stuff....take GrnTea up on her offer.

    I am so sorry, so sorry you are dealing with this....who knew that after spending a lifetime doing one thing we would find ourselves without pensions and benefits....considered un-useable by our own peers and undesirable for hire. Young nurses ageism is alive and well in nursing!!!!!

    Well...((HUGS)) friend....tomorrow is another day and this too shall pass....
  9. by   jadelpn
    How about working at a clinic. Or as a school nurse. Or adolescent psych as a case manager? Or case management anywhere? Or as a nurse in a halfway house that has a day program to teach there, or med management? But I also love the idea of teaching CNA/Medical Assistant or even an LPN class or 2. Or even first aid, CPR in a local community college? There are some community colleges that have evening classes for adults--a class or series of lectures on caring and planning for your elderly parent? Or lectures on health ed at high schools? You could also try your local CPS branch to teach parenting skills--with medical fragile kids, how to take care of children, babies. Another thought would be to take a lactation consultant class and through home health do well baby visits and lactation consulting. Could also tie in with pre-natal birthing classes. Women's health clinic. Teach some classes at your local EMT school, as a number of even EMT basics need certifications on giving some meds (nebs and epi-pens). And to be totally hog wild, as an RN in some states you can comp the EMT exam, and just take the practical exam to be an EMT. Outpatient infusion clinic. Same day surgery pre-op nurse. HIV/Hep C testing facility with education and counseling. A nurse for a construction company or employee health. OK, I am out of ideas LOLOLOL
    Best wishes and much love Viva!
  10. by   NurseCard
    If it were ME... if there were any, ANY possible way that I could do it and actually live on the pay...
    I'd get a job working the cash register at one of my favorite retail outlets. Either Starbucks or
    Michaels. So stress free, so fun... *sigh*... if there were any way, heck I'd do that right NOW.

    You've been through a lot, paid your dues, IS there any way you could afford to take
    a job such as what I've described above?
  11. by   TheCommuter
    I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, Viva. You and your situation will certainly remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    Unless a person is wealthy with substantial assets, the time of upper middle-age (mid 50s to early 60s) is the most precarious because you're too young to qualify for Medicare and Social Security if you're caught without a job. Also, it can be harder to find a suitable job in upper middle age due to unconscious bias against 'older' applicants.
  12. by   ktwlpn
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    I knew it was too good to last forever.
    Today, in a meeting with my company's regional director of operations and the corporate nurse consultant, my Executive Director and I learned that we will both probably be let go if our building doesn't pass our re-survey next month
    You just said it-why not become a "nurse consultant"? That's an area of real growth in nursing today.Can you cross over to the dark side?
  13. by   David13
    Quote from TheCommuter
    Also, it can be harder to find a suitable job in upper middle age due to unconscious bias against 'older' applicants.
    Of course they can't say anything to your face, but that bias is not always "unconscious". . .
  14. by   BSNbeauty
    My heart goes out to middle age nurses who are too young to retire but experience ageism. If this is what I have to experience 30 years from now, then I rather have no part of it.
    My preceptor has been a nurse for 30 plus years and have a ADN. She runs circles around the 20 something BSNs in the floor, she said the day she is forced to get her BSN, she'll retire... I don't blame her. However, what happens whe you don't have that option and you still need bennies and income for the family. I don't expect any middle age nurse to go from making a decent income to being a walmart greeter. I stick to my original advice: Viva, find a job in teaching. My mother did a three day "train the trainer course", she has a few contracts and makes 45/hr. She loves it. School nursing is an idea except the pay may not be great. Grntea, had an excellent idea as well!
    My prayers and thoughts are with you.