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Nursing School or Kids?

by CareerORKids CareerORKids (New) New

I wanted to be a Physician Assistant for years, but I went into teaching instead. I have a Master's in Teaching and five years of teaching experience but I'm too much of a perfectionist to keep at it--it burned me out! Now I believe I will enjoy being an RN (and will maybe become an NP later). I finished all prereqs but won't be able to start nursing school for another 6 months. It will take me until I am 31 to finish (that's five semesters). That's longer than I planned because I didn't make it in to an accelerated program. I'm having a hard time not giving up these nursing school plans because I would prefer to start a family now. I really doubt I'd ever go back to nursing school once my husband and I start a family, and we would be fine on my husband's income alone.

In a nutshell: I think I'd love to have a career once our (theoretical) kids would be in school, but I'm not sure it's worth it to put in the three years now when we don't need my income. Is it really worth waiting three more years for a child?

This is certainly a tough decision. I have somewhat of a similar situation, but I'm already a nurse. Instead of entering it, I'm trying to leave the profession. It will take me 4-5 years to finish the program I am looking at and my husband and I are trying to decide the ideal time to have children. I don't really know if there is an ideal time. By the time I finish the program, I will be in my 30s and I really didn't want to wait that long to have children. We still haven't decided what to do.

It seems that you won't be working until your children are in school. Since nursing is a clinical profession that values recent experience, you may find yourself in a situation where you finish nursing school and then work for only a short period of time. Once your children are in school and you want to return to work, you may find that it isn't easy to find a job. There are refresher programs for such nurses, but it is something that you may want to consider.

I do have a few questions after reading your post. If you want to be a PA, why did you choose nursing? Have you done a lot of shadowing and do you really understand what you are getting into? Are you really motivated to do this? I noticed that you said that you doubt that you would go to nursing school after starting a family. That makes me think that you may not have a strong desire to be a nurse. If you did, it would not go away. I don't mean to discourage you, but I only recommend nursing for someone that can't imagine doing anything else.

I do have friends that had children while in nursing school. I know it wasn't easy for them and their spouses had to be very supportive, but it is possible. For myself, I am considering having my first child a few months before entering my program. Although I am certain that my graduate program will be a huge committment, I anticipate having more free time than if I was working a full-time job.

That makes me think that you may not have a strong desire to be a nurse. If you did, it would not go away. I don't mean to discourage you, but I only recommend nursing for someone that can't imagine doing anything else.

I just wanted to acknowledge this statement in particular. I've been trying to finish my pre-reqs for a while now, and haven't had the ability to go to school. In the heat of frustration I always say, "Well, maybe I'm just not meant to be a nurse." By the end of the day I'm trying to reassess the situation to allow me to finish school. Either you have the passion and desire or you don't. This is the most important thing to decide. How badly do you want it?

If you decide nursing is what you want, schooling after children is quite possible. I have three children from the ages of 13 years to 17 months... that's quite a span. When my second son started kindergarten, I scheduled my classes around drop-off and pick-up times. I managed to get all but one of my pre-reqs done when I found out I was pregnant with the baby. I had planned to go back to school this past spring, but couldn't do it due to financial reasons. If you should choose to have children before returning to school, I would suggest trying to budget in a "college fund" for yourself now. If you wait until your children are in school, you can set your schedule around them, but if you want to go back while they are still little, you'll have to figure daycare expenses in. This can be a heafty expense, in which case you'll want to have that college cushion. (I didn't and it's proving to be the biggest obsticle for me.)

Hope you find the answers you are looking for. :D

Personally, I know nursing can sound tempting for those interested in the health sciences... there's lots of opportunities, lots of programs out there (eg don't have to move to another state) and, relatively speaking, it doesn't take that long to get started.

However, the question is whether it will be worth to YOU. As another noted, nursing is a clinical profession and recent, up-to-date experience is highly valued, so getting a degree now without planning to go straight to work after graduation isn't an ideal option.

You mention being a perfectionist and how that contributed to feeling burnt out from teaching. Being a perfectionist can drive you nuts as a nurse, too. That's my experience as a perfectionist. Real world situations are way less than perfect (eg short-staffing, uncooperative colleagues, unsupportive administrators, uncooperative patients and families, ridiculous documentation demands, etc) and since nursing is a practice that needs time and experience to develop, the first years out are some of the toughest because you aren't sure of what to do, the people you turn to for assistance are very busy with their own assignments, and you've got a bunch of other patient needs demanding attention at the same time. Depending on where you work, there can be many opportunities to be painfully aware of NOT being able to provide the *best* care possible to your patients.

There are actually MANY similarities to teaching. No choice of your students/patients. In many places, little backup from administration regarding your front-line concerns/problems. An ever increasing amount of documentation required such that you feel like you're spending more time writing what you did than what you actually did do!

That doesn't mean you won't like nursing. You might. I know some people have changed from teaching to nursing and were glad of it. And I know self-described perfectionists who make a career of nursing.

School recruiters, especially for BSN programs, may emphasize many other areas of nursing besides the bedside. Nonetheless, the main focus on nursing school and its clinicals is bedside nursing. And many of those coveted non-bedside jobs give preference to those with bedside experience. And school, since it covers such a wide range of nursing and it so relatively short, doesn't do much to prepare graduates for any one specific job; thus the reason the first year or so out involves SO MUCH learning on-the-job - sometimes from unenthusiastic colleagues who can't and/or don't want to teach/help a newbie.

Finally, personally as a person who really enjoyed the sciences in school, I found the fairly shallow level of nursing school instruction to be rather frustrating. Of course, you can always learn more on your own, buy a med school pathophys book, etc. But what's required for most nursing programs isn't scientifically in depth. After all, nursing is focused on caring for the patient, not the disease. You cover a LOT of ground in nursing school (pathophys, pharmacology), but rather quickly and cursorily (again, not much time to cover a lot of ground). What nursing school lacks in depth of content, it makes up for quantity of content!!!

The short version of this is, find out more about nursing itself... from nurses, from personal observation at a hospital (shadow someone, volunteer) etc... not just from school recruiters or from people's rants and raves on this board. Don't just focus on NP or school nurse or the like - because to get there, you'll at least have to get through school clinicals if not a few years of bedside nursing.

So get that info then see if you can identify a *gut* feeling about nursing. And go from there!!

Good luck!!! That's a nice dilemma to have, you know? : )

Thank you all for replying to my post! You've given me good information to consider. I had done a bit of job shadowing but you've helped me realize that I really need to shadow more RNs this summer. This will really help me decide if I truly want to pursue nursing at the expense of starting a family for a few years. I really believe I would be a great nurse, largely because I am detail-oriented, efficient, empathetic, and love learning--it but since teaching turned out to be such a bad match for me, I've lost some confidence in my ability to choose a career that I'll enjoy.

This past year, as I was taking the prereqs, I began listening to Dr. Laura on the radio and as a result I decided that I definitely want to be home with my children until they are school age. I understand that many moms need to work but my situation is blessedly different. My parents have no problem paying for my nursing school tuition and what's even more unbelievable is that they recently paid off my husband's and my mortgage! So the financial questions aren't plaguing me, to say the least. Mostly I want to have a full-time career available for when my kids are in school and nursing seems to be the best fit.

Another option, though, is for me to take three more classes to become endorsed as a library media specialist. I could easily take these classes this fall while trying to conceive now, and I could keep up the certification until my kids were in school. I think I would like this job too, perhaps not as much as I would enjoy nursing, but it would be a compromise so I could have a job that's a better fit than teaching while not having to put off pregnancy.

Any more advice on when to start a family is welcome! It's truly hard to fight off the maternity urge once it sets in.

I actually know how you feel. I really want to start a family with my husband. But i just took a new job on a pretty intense cardiac floor. I was on a medical floor before and went through all the horror stories people say about nursing (no help, non supportive coworkers, terrible hours, bad manager) and I was unhappy. I was actually told by my charge nurse my to get pregnant. The floor I'm on now seems great but there's a lot for me to learn. I feel like I'm starting over again. But all I want right now is to have a baby.

If it's the right time for you and your husband, maybe it wouldn't hurt to start trying! Would you continue to work on the Cardiac floor part time or full time? Hopefully you have lots of options. Good luck!


Specializes in LTC, Alzheimers unit.

:saint:Why not still become a Physician Assistant? My husband had a Bachelors in Mortuary Science before pursuing PA school. You can get in most programs with a bachelors in any field. Yes it is harder but if that is what you want to do then do it. I would definetely wait on kids, you will always wonder what if, if you don't go for it.

P.S. My husband loves being a PA-C

I have had that same dilema and I'm still not sure if nursing is right for me. But having said that, I think it's all atitude and determination. My best friend has been a nurse now for a little over a year and went through school on a very modest income brought in only by her husband and they refused to have financial help from family. They are very proud people and wanted to prove something. They have 2 kids now 10 and 8 but they were 4 and 6 when she started school. When I say atitude, what I mean is, are you able to overcome obsticles easily? I'm currently six months pregnant, in school taking some pre-req's and continuing in the fall even though I will be delivering in October, I can still take part in some online classes. Depending on the school, there is a lot of remote solutions out there that can help you get pretty far without actually having to attend a classroom.

Anyhow, just my $.02

I would still love to become a PA-C but I don't have the medical experience (except for candy striping as a high school student) and I really don't want to become a Phlebotomist or a CNA. Any other ideas how I could get the 1 year or 2000+ hours of patient experience required for the only PA-C schools in my area?

I would still love to become a PA-C but I don't have the medical experience (except for candy striping as a high school student) and I really don't want to become a Phlebotomist or a CNA. Any other ideas how I could get the 1 year or 2000+ hours of patient experience required for the only PA-C schools in my area?

What about becoming an EMT or medical assistant? If you still want to be a PA, I really wouldn't recommend going into nursing. Of course there are nurses who are PAs, but I think that you need to have real desire to do nursing first. If not, you may become completely turned off by health care in general.

What's the main reason for not wanting to be a phlebotomist or CNA (or other ancillary patient care staff)? That may give you some insight into whether nursing is a direction you'd want to go.

I know some of those jobs don't pay well but they can be a great entry to the health care field - getting used to working with patients as well as working with other health personnel - the same people you'd be working with as a RN or PA. So why not get started sooner rather than later? If you really don't like it, it will help you make future decision about what direction to head or to avoid. If you take to it well, then it can only be a benefit to your future in health care.

That type of job might also have part-time & per diem possibilities that could work well if you decide to have kids now but want to keep some contact with patient care. I know it can be frustrating to not just be able to get started with training for a professional career with good pay and stability, but taking it step by step can help you end up someplace you really want to be, not just end up with a degree/license in a field that turns out to not float your boat.

PA and RN are two very different roles with two very different training programs. If an RN goes on and becomes an NP, they will then have the possibility of filling roles similar to that of a PA, but the paths to get there are quite different and the journey you take to get there might well make or break your motivation. Just thoughts!


Specializes in LTC, Alzheimers unit.

Could you volunter part time at a hospital or work part time as a med assistant somewhere a lot of places will train you and you could still teach? Just an idea, not sure if it will work or not.

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