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Is it wrong to go into nursing knowing one does not want to be a bedside nurse?

Posted

Hello,

I'm just looking for feedback regarding this issue. You see, I am interested in a clinical healthcare degree so that I can treat patients. Nursing seems like the model most suited to me for a variety of reasons . . . except that I think I'd be going into it knowing I do not want to be a bedside nurse in a hospital. Way down the line I'd like to do policy work, but I think in order to do that effectively and well, I want health care experience on the ground and the fact is, I do want to help people live healthier lives in a direct way right now.

So while I recognize that during nursing school and maybe even my first job out of school I'll be a bedside nurse, and I am ok with that. But should I totally reconsider my plans if bedside nursing doesn't interest me for the long-haul?

TheOldestNurseOnUnit

Specializes in Oncology; med/surg; geriatric; OB; CM. Has 25 years experience.

I had a friend who couldn't find a FT hospital job when she graduated & started working for a hand surgeon...eventually she started doing surgeries with him, then started working on people's disability forms for them. She now is a certified case manager in disabilities working on her master's degree. I have another friend who started working in an ambulatory care center after school for the same reason (no FT hospital jobs) and she is now running one! Not everyone is meant to be a bedside nurse!

That being said--they were lucky. Most ambulatory facilities, hospitals, clinics--want someone who has had some bedside experience so they know how to recognize problems when they see them.

Maybe you should consider something like a Physician's Assistant....they work in clinics and doctors' offices treating patients.

You never know though--you might turn out to love bedside care!

Good luck with your decision!

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I went into nursing 37 years ago with the same thoughts that you are having now. It's OK -- that career path can work. However, you will need to be quite strong to do it. It is very hard to go to work every day to a job that you don't like -- harder than most people realize until they have actually done it. Most people think they can do it for a few years, but end up quitting once they are faced with the stress of a job they really hate.

So ... I recommend getting some bedside experience ASAP and see how you respond to it. Perhaps you could work as a volunteer or CNA, but do something that puts you in the healthcare arena working directly with patients and see how you respond. If you really, really hate it ... then I would say that you should probably find another career path. However, if you are OK with it and don't hate it, then being a nurse can work out for you.

I went to nursing school knowing that I would be a staff nurse for only 2 or 3 years ... then go to grad school and mvoe on to other roles. I became an NICU staff nurse after graduation and LOVED it -- much more than I thought I would. But I still went to graduate school after 2 years of staff nursing. My limited patient care experience (as it was only for 2 years and only with NICU patients) has been a recurrent issue in my career ... but it is a limitation that I have been able to work with successfully.

I often wish I had more bedside experience with a broader range of patients -- but I am a strong person and I have made a good career for myself. It's been a hard path to follow, but I have succeeded. Be prepared for some big bumps in the road.

I have considered Physician Assistant programs and I am quite ashamed to admit this, but one of the reasons I had not pursued it is because I don't know how to get the patient care hours that are required of many programs. Another reason, though, is I found a nursing program that looks absolutely fantastic and is really geared toward social justice issues, which is what I am interested in.

I mean, maybe I can ask this question: is it ok to go into nursing knowing that you ultimately want to be an advanced practice nurse, like a women's health nurse practitioner?

I went to nursing school knowing that I would be a staff nurse for only 2 or 3 years ... then go to grad school and mvoe on to other roles. I became an NICU staff nurse after graduation and LOVED it -- much more than I thought I would. But I still went to graduate school after 2 years of staff nursing. My limited patient care experience (as it was only for 2 years and only with NICU patients) has been a recurrent issue in my career ... but it is a limitation that I have been able to work with successfully.

I often wish I had more bedside experience with a broader range of patients -- but I am a strong person and I have made a good career for myself. It's been a hard path to follow, but I have succeeded. Be prepared for some big bumps in the road.

llg, thanks for that info. May I ask what you went to grad school for? Or should I private message you? I do appreciate knowing that you wish you had more bedside experience . . . definitely something I will consider.

Oh, I am working on being a volunteer, just the paperwork is taking forever!

I worked at the bedside for two long and overwhelming years. I too knew it wasn't for me but I loved the patients and staff so it was bearable. After, I worked for an Indian nation running a home health clinic and then started an HIV nurse run clinic which is in it's 20th year. I love my life and think you need to feel secure that nursing has a big tent and there is room for all of us. Debra

HeartsOpenWide, RN

Specializes in Ante-Intra-Postpartum, Post Gyne.

There wouldn't be FNP/CNM/CRNA ect if it was not ok to leave the bedside. There are people that go straight into a masters level without even being a bedside nurse first. If you know this is what you want to do why wait? I do think that for some people getting bedside experience is important, but it should not be required or frowned if not done.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

llg, thanks for that info. May I ask what you went to grad school for? Or should I private message you? I do appreciate knowing that you wish you had more bedside experience . . . definitely something I will consider.

Oh, I am working on being a volunteer, just the paperwork is taking forever!

I became a NICU CNS and Staff Development Instructor. After several years of that, I went back to school again and got my PhD. I now work for a children's hospital specializing in Nursing Professional Development, research, and evidence-based practice. I also teach an ocassional class at a local university.