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Losing Motivation I Never Had


Hi everyone- this is my first time posting here and if I get even one reply I'd be more than grateful.

I'm 18 years old, fresh out of high school, and currently in the second semester of a 2 year RN private diploma program considered to be one of the best in the state. In high school I always thought that I would enter a field rooted in the humanities. I did well on the debate team, was always elected to student government, was voted most likely to speak at the United Nations, scored well on multiple AP exams in the humanities. On the other end of the spectrum, I was in honors science classes throughout high school but was ecstatic if I received a 80- the highest level of math I took was Algebra II. My lower science and math grades didn't worry me all too much because I received perfect English and reading scores on both the ACT and SAT; I figured my strengths were showcased well enough.

When junior year came around and it was time to begin deciding on colleges and a career, I suddenly felt like I fell into a hole. My mother is a nurse practitioner. In summary, she entered nursing after trial and error with various majors in college. Because of her experience, she believed that the best route for me to take was to enter a program with ONE goal and ONE major, so that I will not be sidetracked if I take a class that appeals to me and suddenly end up in a jobless field along the lines of Calligraphy- a very terrifying thought for a mother. I understood this and agreed to some extent- if I enter a two year nursing program I'll have my RN at the end, finish my bachelors in another year, and be ahead of the game with experience under my belt to continue my education. I didn't have much guidance as to feasible options for degrees I was actually interested in- political science has become a field saturated with students that believe anyone who can read and write can become a lawyer, English is a major that will always have the stigma of poor job prospects; I was at a complete loss for ideas.

I knew that I did not want to be a nurse. Spending my life in scrubs, caring for people 12 hours at a time, and always having the "subordinate" label of a nurse on my shoulders was not something that appealed to me. After many nights of yelling, I gave in to my mother and applied to the program I am currently in, it was the only school I applied to. During my senior year I was attending evening and online classes at the local community college to finish any co-reqs that I would have to take during the program- to ease my future workload. I took the TEAS and scored a 98%- they accepted me without an interview.

In the six months that I've been a "student nurse", my thoughts have changed. I definitely have MUCH more respect for nurses. I no longer subscribe as heavily to the school of thought that nurses are subordinate, but I can't shake the feeling that it's below me in the sense that it's not what I was meant to do. I don't feel that I have the overwhelming compassion or yearning to help others that's required of a nurse. I never leave clinical with a feeling of "I can't wait to have my RN!!!" as the other students voice. At least once a week I find myself scrolling through career listings or job boards outside of nursing. Should I drop out and go to a four year school to "find my passion", as other kids my age are doing? I have made friends with a few of the older students in my class- I would hate to drop out only to come back when I realize that nursing is the most stable option and lose a few years in the process.

At this point my mother is talking of Medical school as being the best option. She does not listen when I say that my poor math and science background will not cut it, and does not understand that students go through pre-med tracks for a reason rather than nursing--> med school. I cannot discuss it with her because I feel ready to cry, I can't voice the fact that I know healthcare is not the field for me. At the same time, nursing is so broad a field and there's a voice in my head saying that if I continue my education, I'll find a job where I can be in the non-patient care sector. I know the general consensus on this website is against those who go into nursing with the hopes of getting out of patient care, but this is where I am right now.

I'm so sorry for the long post, thank you if you read through all of this. I suppose I'm asking for any advice, suggestions, or opinions you have to offer. Thank you :)

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Nursing does not require "overwhelming compassion and desire to help others." Nursing requires the brains to get through a fairly difficult course of study and pass the licensing exam afterward, the ability to think critically, memorize large amounts of information and communicate effectively in oral and written English. (Or the language of the country in which you hope to practice.). "Overwhelming compassion and desire to help others" seems to be an expectation of some STUDENTS, but real nurses understand that not only is it not necessary, it might even be detrimental. It seems that the nursing students who are wholly invested in "the calling" are the ones who have the most difficulty with acclimating to the environment of a real nursing unit and with staying interested and active in nursing. Compassion can be faked; competence cannot be.

It is perfectly fine to become a nurse because you find the human body workings to be interesting, the work challenging, the pay and benefits attractive and the stability and working conditions (inside with heat and/or air conditioning and no mud, sun beating down on you or mosquitoes) desirable. I think nurses who enter the field for pragmatic reasons such as these actually become better nurses than those who are in it because they've subscribed to "the calling." There a myriad career opportunities for an experienced nurse, although becoming an experienced nurse means you'll have to take care of actual patients for a couple of years. That said, if you don't want to be a nurse, don't become one. It is your life, after all; not your mother's. Making your own decisions is part of becoming an adult. It may also mean financing your own life, so be prepared for that. Screaming at your mother (or her screaming at you) doesn't seem to be a particularly constructive way of making life decisions.

If i were you, I would stick it out. You only have a little over a year left. Once you graduate, start working as a nurse and see if you like it. If you do, great. If you dont, then go with your original plan.

You don't have to look around here too far to find brilliant people with excellent writing and analysis skills who happen to be nurses (skills you amply demonstrate, and gawd knows how much we need more of you)-- Ruby is Exhibit #1 because she's right there above me, and there are lots more.

Not all of us are in clinical settings, though for many of us that's how we started out because we didn't know any better, had no reason to know more about the wide world out there, or just sorta let inertia carry us along until a big life change forced us to look around for something different. Which, because we are smart and resourceful, most of us have found and made the most of. Work-life balance becomes more important the older you get, and nursing offers more choices to make that work than a lot of fields. I agree that sometimes the people who do nursing because it's a reliable job wth a decent paycheck and leave it behind when they clock out are excellent at it; they have the freedom to do the rest of their lives the way the want precisely because of that.

All of us have discovered, with our growing maturity and competence wherever we landed, that we are about as far from subordinate as you can imagine, so that's not an issue for us personally even if we do spend some time now and then explaining it to people who aren't in a position to know any better.

I agree with my friend Ruby that it's your life, not your mom's. If you don't want to be a nurse, don't be a nurse.

However, I also agree that nursing's not a bad jumping-off point for somebody with good science, math, and communications skills who's interested in physiology and problem-solving. I worked in hospitals, mostly in critical care where I could indulge my physiology jones and need to git 'er done based on my knowledge and skills pretty much every day, for more than 20 years. I got good at it, taught it, went to grad school for it, started a few projects that, as far as I know, are still working, and learned a lot of other stuff along the way.

Now, the kinds of work I have been doing for the past twenty-plus years and the ones I do now didn't even exist when I was in college or for a good long time afterwards. But here I am, making a very nice living being a NURSE in a way that doesn't involve hospitals, uniforms, bosses, or scheduling coordinators. I work out of a home office, travel some, collaborate with other professions who see my nursing knowledge and background as a huge plus, dress in whatever is appropriate for the setting (that's jammies and slippers, a classy Italian wool suit and pearls, or shorts/jeans and tees now and then), wear comfortable shoes, and have made wonderful friends in my field from all over the country, and some out of the country. I never dreamed of anything like this, and yet, well, here it is. Because I started out going to college for nursing.

Ya just never know. Good luck with whatever you decide, and stay in touch.