Confession: Nursing Wasn't My Dream Career And That's Okay

  1. In October 2017, there were over four million active nurses in the United States with over four million different reasons why they became a nurse. Here's my story.

    Confession: Nursing Wasn't My Dream Career And That's Okay

    Nursing wasn't a clear choice at the beginning, but I've grown to love it.

    I've always admired the kids who, with such conviction, knew what they wanted to do as if it were as an obvious life function like breathing. Me, on the other hand, chose nursing out of necessity and uncertainty. The necessity-I had a scholarship to play tennis at a two-year school and no other options to fund my education, therefore only two years to achieve a degree with an immediate career option. The uncertainty-I'd always had the vague notion that I wanted to "help people" but hadn't figured out in what capacity. The solution-apply to Nursing School and see what happens. As it turns out, it was a fulfilling career decision.

    Since then, I've come to terms with not feeling comfortable in a hospital setting.

    One entrance exam and four months later I shoot a look of panic to a fellow nursing student as I'm instructed to go check the patient in room 105 for wetness. We're in our first semester of clinicals, you know, where mitering a bed sheet corner and transfers with a gait belt are foreign and worrisome tasks at hand. For the task at hand, I remember scrambling to grab a more seasoned nursing student to assist me in my first ever check. I could feel my cheeks wash over in a red hue as I watched my friend perfectly perform the duties of which I was not able to-It just felt so intrusive, walking into the room of a sleeping person to roll them over and check their genital area. Of course we learn ways to mitigate the invasiveness of it all but often times throughout nursing school I felt as uncomfortable as the patient.

    At the end of the day, I am happy that I took my time to settle into my career as a nurse.

    While I battled feelings of inadequacy at the bedside during school, I began to find myself really enjoying the theories and sciences of nursing. Still, though, I didn't see my enthusiasm for being a nursing student didn't match those of my peers. I refused to purchase the "School of Nursing" t-shirts and when graduation came, it took me (and this is embarrassing to admit) two years before I was ready to sit down and take the NCLEX. To this day, eight years after graduation, I am still working through why I had such an aversion to becoming a nurse, considering how much enjoyment I receive from it today. However, I knew that when I sat down to take my licensing exam I was ready and likely a much better nurse because of it.

    There are so many different routes nursing can take you, be sure to explore others beyond what you experience in clinicals during nursing school.

    As it turns out, though hospital nursing wasn't befitting for me personally, there were many other nursing avenues that were, most specifically family practice. And when I went back to school to earn my bachelor's degree in nursing, I learned more deeply about social determinants of health. I read "The Devil's Highway" and "Mountains Beyond Mountains." I had discussions about the Affordable Care Act and the significance of universal health care. I looked forward to classes and the time we spent designing healthcare projects in lieu of hospital clinicals.

    It's not about how you start, but how you finish.

    After receiving my bachelor's degree, I made the now-so-obvious decision to add public health to my experience as a nurse. A little more than a year later, I accepted an extended public health volunteer position abroad; I'm writing this essay 6000 miles away from where I called home! When this commitment is over, I hope to return to the US with both nursing and public health experience and start a specialized MSN(FNP)/MPH program. With a dual degree, I will be able to provide hands-on personal care through a public health approach. In many ways, I feel like my journey with nursing has been long and convoluted; if all goes according to plan, I will graduate from the MSN/MPH program fourteen years after beginning my first nursing course. But you know what? I wouldn't change a thing.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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  2. Visit ValinMNG profile page

    About ValinMNG, BSN, RN

    RN, BSN and future MSN, MPH who finally found her niche in nursing.

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 5; Likes: 20

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    6 Comments

  3. by   dianah
    So glad you are doing what you like, and making a difference!
    Kudos on your accomplishments!
  4. by   joe007
    It sounds like you like public health/policy more than "nursing." Good for you getting out of the trenches of the US pharma/medical hospital system.
  5. by   javadown2
    It must be nice to be able to volunteer on an extended basis, how does one afford to do this?
  6. by   ValinMNG
    ahhh, yes. I'm volunteering with the Peace Corps. I wanted to avoid outright saying that in the article. So, while I'm not saving any money here, i'm not spending any either (PC gives you enough money to live comparative lifestyles to the people of your community.) I didn't have any financial commitments in the US and student loans can be deferred.
  7. by   ValinMNG
    Thank you!
  8. by   javadown2
    Quote from ValinMNG
    ahhh, yes. I'm volunteering with the Peace Corps. I wanted to avoid outright saying that in the article. So, while I'm not saving any money here, i'm not spending any either (PC gives you enough money to live comparative lifestyles to the people of your community.) I didn't have any financial commitments in the US and student loans can be deferred.
    Oh, ok makes sense! That is great though, sounds really exciting and fulfilling! Of course I've heard of the Peace Corps, but don't know much about it first hand. Congratulations on finding what you love to do though. I'm going to start my MSN in Education next month and am looking forward to that. Anyways, be safe and thanks for the article.

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