I'm Not Going To Be A Nurse!


Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience.

@Emergent recently had a great thread titled "So happy to be out of nursing", gave us a status report and future plans. The discussion, as most do, grew organically and went hither & yond.

@LibraNurse27 made a comment to the effect that if she could go back in time, she would tell her temporal ancestor not to become a nurse. 

I mentioned that I had just read and studied both the original & graphic novel of Kurt Vonnegut's classic Slaughter House Five where the main character, Billy Pilgrim is "unstuck in time". I was thinking about going back and deciding, "I'm not going to be a nurse!" and doing some kid of project with that idea. What would my life have been like? What career would I have chosen?

So with some support and encouragement from @Squidpdx, this thread is one of the initial conceptions of that project.

I thought about the manner in which I would make the decision not to become a nurse. Would I do as LibraNurse, go back in time and tell my former self to not become a nurse? 

Or how about if I could change the initial event, which caused a progressive series of events, which led me to the decision to pursue nursing as a career?

I needed to review my life in a backwards motion: I became an RN after being  an LPN after being an EMT after getting certified in CPR after taking a First Aid course. 

Why did I choose to take a First Aid course? Because I had been in an MVA, spent months in the hospital, learned a lot about anatomy, became interested in that area, and wanted to help others. The MVA was the initial event which led me to eventually becoming a nurse, so I had to change an event which led to that MVA.

The MVA occurred at about 11pm on a Tuesday night. I've often thought about how events had to play out so that the motorcycle that I was riding went around a curve precisely at the same time an intoxicated driver in a pickup was rounding that same curve from the opposite way.

"At the same time" rang in my mind. "Same time". Why was I rounding that corner at that time?

Because the cat knocked over the alarm clock.

If, that morning, the cat hadn't knocked over the alarm clock, I wouldn't have overslept and been an hour late for work that day. I wouldn't have had to work over an hour to make up that hour. I wouldn't have been an hour late with my plans for that night, and I would have passed that curve an hour earlier while the driver of the pickup was still in the tavern getting inebriated.

My decision to become a nurse initial event was because the cat knocked over the alarm clock, so we're going to put the cat out the night before, he doesn't knock over the alarm clock, I'm not an hour behind in my plans, I don't get into an MVA, and I'm not going to become a nurse.





What was your initial event which caused the series of events that led you to nursing?

And if you would have not become a nurse, how different would your life be?



Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,487 Posts

There are those who believe that nursing was their calling, their destiny, and I am one of them. I can not see myself working at a job for the majority of my life without getting bored with it. As my Mom once said, "Dave gets bored with things so easily".

But let's just believe that I never found out nursing is a career I would want to pursue, so I never became a nurse. I have said the one incident in my life that got me interested was my MVA, so let's say it never happened.

Come with me to a two dimensional reality where we can change the past.




I believe I would have found the nursing career, no matter what, because nursing was my destiny. And even if the present day LibraNurse could go back in time and tell her younger self not to go into nursing, I believe nursing is what the young LibraNurse still would have pursued.

I am interested what others think about these concepts almost as much as I am interested where my Right Brain will take the younger, two dimensional Davey Do.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,487 Posts

Everything in this cartoon is true, except the jumping from one job to another panel:




The MVA occurred in June of one year and I was not released to return to work until June of the next year, so I "jumped" over that year.

Since the MVA did not occur in this scenario, certain key situations that inspired me to become a nurse never happened. I was not in ICU or on the ortho floor of a major medical center, so I never had the experiences which increased my respect for those who worked in the medical profession.

I also did not experience a couple of bad situations which me wish to "light a candle rather than to curse the darkness".

I was allowed to lay in my own feces for an extended period of time in one instance, and had my modesty blatantly ignored in another. I believe those two situations helped to make me a good nurse.

How will my two dimensional self become a nurse without these events to inspire me to do so? I'm going to work in retail, get married, build a house on my property, have two kids, and live until I die!




Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 1,944 Posts

Interesting thoughts. My initial career path was medical school. I was accepted on an early acceptance program but then I hated the undergraduate university where I was enrolled. I also had a great teacher in my Molecular and Cell Biology, which I loved. One day while speaking with him, he said "I'm not saying you're not good with people, but, have you considered going into research?" (my interpersonal skills were somewhat rough at times) So, I spent the next 17 years in pharmaceutical research.

What confirmed my career path there was my first Summer as a research student in a lab. We did fetal animal testing as the final phase of testing on pharmaceutical candidates. In testing one of the candidates we found numerous birth defects and basically caused the black box label that keeps women and unborn babies safe. I was sold, I had just saved lives by ensuring that no innocent women and babies would be affected by this drug, even if it was necessary for certain indications. I had some other events in my career that gave me a similar feeling to having saved lives, but not that directly.

Fast forward about 12 years and the industry was no longer that stable workplace it had been and I knew I wouldn't retire from there. So I was left with nurse or science teacher based on all of my prerequisites from my BS and MS degrees. Nursing won because I could attend the local community college and keep working full time. Not so much a calling, just a practical decision.

So I guess my moment was that professor pointing out my less than stellar interpersonal skills, otherwise I would have stayed in that program and probably would have become a MD. So, really, am I better off? Who knows. But I know 100% I wouldn't have my kids or my life as a know it if that had been my path, so it's all good. 

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 9 years experience. 972 Posts

Very interesting concept @Davey Do! I am sorry to hear of your MVA and I'm impressed that it inspired you to become a nurse. That is a long recovery and I'm sure it was not easy! I'm not sure what would have happened if I chose not to be a nurse. Maybe I would have poor mental health no matter what due to genetics and a triggering event. Unless I could go back and prevent that event from happening too. As you put forth, it gets more complicated!

I know I would choose something where no one's lives are in my hands, maybe public relations or something in the nonprofit sector. But, unless time travel really gets invented one day I guess we'll never know!

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 9,487 Posts

Thank you both for your responses, JBMmom and LibraNurse, and I will specifically respond, but other voices (my medical nurse wife Belinda, to be precise,) and  I have to "Honey Do!"

It's too bad, because I came up with an alternate reality on how I got into nursing, based on actual facts. I have the cartoon inked, need to photograph, edit, format, add word balloons, and uploaded the submission, but duty calls!

See you next time!

CalicoKitty, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatrics, Wound Care. Has 10 years experience. 927 Posts

My mom told me when I was 4 or 5, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said a doctor. They informed me that I was a girl and could be a nurse, not a doctor.  2 of my relatives had been nurses, and neither seemed to like it (dialysis and psych nurses). I really never did much "girly" stuff, so was pretty sure nursing wasn't for me.

Futzed around. Went to school. Got a biology degree. Worked in research (still cool!). Enjoyed that, was debating a move into pharma.

Then, my grandmother (who had advanced dementia), stopped drinking her coffee. Knowing that coffee = life, she would not be with us for long. So I went to visit her for her last days. There was hospice care for her. The came into our home, taught us how to "care" for her as she lay, dying. She was able to pass just how she intended - at home, surrounded by family, no feeding tubes, etc.

A while later, as I was figuring out where to go next in my career, someone suggested nursing because of the experience we had with my grandmother's passing.

Nothing I would do to change the "reason" for my choice in becoming a nurse. It meant everything to allow my grandmother to die peacefully.  ~10 years in, I still like nursing. Still have not reached my 'goal' of hospice, but the awesome thing about the career is variety. And I like where I am right now.

morelostthanfound, BSN

Specializes in CVOR/General/Transplant Surgery, and cat herding. Has 30 years experience. 276 Posts

     Both of my parents were nurses (now retired), so I grew up around hospitals.  Though not destitute (lots of mouths to feed), my family didn't have the financial means to send me to university.  With that knowledge, anything other than the local community college (which I paid for) was pie in the sky.  Nursing was an attractive and relatively cheap way to a decent paying career path.  Though being an introvert and loving nature, I really should have been a conservationist, field scientist, or park ranger would have been a much better fit for me.  But, as Davey says, "With these oxen we must plow".  Hopefully soon though, I'll be going part time with a goal of partial retirement in the next 5-6 years.  Nursing has been a very difficult way to make a living and I am beyond tired of it-sorry Davey, you asked.






NotMyProblem MSN, ASN, BSN, MSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 36 years experience. 2,690 Posts

My dad told me he was paying for me to go to LPN school. End of story.

Back in the day, kids did what their parents told them to do. I didn’t know I could have said “NO!” and there’d be nothing he could’ve done about it.😳

NightNerd, MSN, RN

Specializes in CMSRN, hospice. Has 8 years experience. 1,094 Posts

This is weird to think about. It's funny how some of these stories have many layers and definitive deciding moments, where others seem...almost inevitable, I guess?

For me, I think it boils down to something an ex said, coupled with my first job at a hospice after getting my undergraduate degree. I was struggling to figure out what to with my life, having originally planned to go to grad school for something - counseling, reading specialist, maybe SLP? And my ex, ever practical, was like, "Well, we need nurses; why don't you go be one?"

I don't think I would have done it, except for the fact that my first full-time job was at an inpatient hospice facility. I loved working with the nurses and techs, and felt very engaged and involved in the experiences of our patients and families. While where I worked had a very generous tuition reimbursement policy, it heavily favored those who went to nursing school, so it was the path of least resistance.

The ex and I lasted not even two semesters into school. Both stressed me out beyond measure, but he was worse. I met my current boyfriend at my first nursing job, so I guess everything worked out for the best, all things considered. My work life always feels like a mess now, but everything else is pretty great!


Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 5 years experience. 451 Posts

I have no idea why I wanted to be a nurse. I remember saying it as a kid. I said it all through high school. I never had an aha moment!

Still to this day, I don’t know what attracted me to the job, just that I wanted to be a nurse. when I was teenager I spent a fair bit of time in hospital, but it’s not the reason I become a nurse, however its the story I tell people! 

the only other job I really considered was health promotion. It was inevitable I was going to work in health care. 

ClaraRedheart, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 8 years experience. 358 Posts

This has been my favorite thread that I've read so far here! Thanks, LibraNurse for bringing it up! Also, although I hate that you and DaveyDo had to go through tragedy to reach nursing, I'm glad you came to that conclusion. I'm a firm believer that what we go through can either make you or break you, and it made both of you ❤️ 

CalicoKitty, Hospice is a high aspiration! I'm in this field because of a close relative dying and I don't think I could do that, even now after 7 years. I admire your tenacity to do something that takes such extreme emotional maturity!

MoreLostThanFound: It makes me sad that you are in a field that you don't feel fulfilled in. God made us all different. I hope you find a way to pursue your dream job. Covid nursing and travel pays well. Any chance you could go back to school at your age? Nursing pays fairly well and hopefully it's not too late for you. You might be more fulfilled in another field! Best wishes

OK, I'll post my own now, but I loved everyones responses, even the sad ones. It's interesting to hear how we all got here!