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Portland Oregon wannabe Nurse looking for advice

Oregon   (3,781 Views 5 Comments)
by Spargo Spargo (New Member) New Member

478 Visitors; 3 Posts


Hello Everybody,

I've been lurking in this forum for a few months now so I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself and hopefully open up to some advice and/or guidance from the nurses on this board.


I am a 28 year old Male - I have lived in Portland for 3 years with my girlfriend of nearly a decade - we are a happily child-free couple and have no plans for a family other than our dogs. I believe my greatest strength is my personality which in my first step into the working world lead me to restaurants, sales, and because of a natural aptitude with computers and an ability to deal with *******s information technology. I take pride in any job I do and get a thrill out of taking the difficult tasks - I loved taking on the dirtiest jobs, and the rudest customers, finding a thrill in the challenge. Ultimately I found myself leaving positions out of boredom, many of these jobs become very mundane, the same meals, the same 4-5 common technical problems, etc. - the last of which was working for a large bank in a phone center selling mortgages, though I was very good at my job I made the mistake of taking a couple weeks off right before over 200 people were laid off from my position and banking being the cold sterile world it is, I got the axe.

This might be the part where you feel bad for me but honestly I was thrilled - this Dilbert comic is pretty close:


Don't get me wrong - office work isn't the worst thing in the world, I loved that it kept me busy from clock in to clock out making the day go a lot faster than sitting in que in IT, and of course the money was fantastic. In the end though, I felt unsatisfied, I was in it only for the money everything else was boring and repetitive - I knew this was an opportunity.

Between severance and unemployment getting fired was surprisingly manageable, I really got lucky and I know it so I'm trying to make the very best of the situation. Months of research narrowed down to a few different options but I felt myself drawn to nursing. A friend of a friend of a family member works as a helicopter nurse in Wisconsin, like myself he has ADD and needs something mentally stimulating that has diversity - I fell in love with the life he was leading and decided it was time to start making steps into the field.

This is where I am today.


Now you know me - my dream so far would be working either as a helicopter nurse, or in an ER (possibly ICU?) - I want the difficult patients, I want the weird cases, I want a challenge in my work. I am willing to put in my time if necessary but if possible I want to avoid the paths of nursing that seem to involve more routine such as elderly care. I don't particularly like children but I can take them in doses so I also wouldn't want to get into pediatrics, but again I'd take the job if the experience meant getting to where I want to go in the long run, and I'd do a damn good job. Beyond that? Who knows, I understand many nurses go into various specialties or administrative work if bedside gets too stressful, I don't see that happening to me but I'm glad there are options, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it though.

What I hope to find out here:

Currently I'm just trying to find my path, I'm looking into 10 schools in just the Portland area alone but I'd be willing to drive down to Salem or up to Vancouver if it meant getting things done right - ideally I'd like to get done as quickly as possible as I prefer being at work to being a student but I also don't want short cuts to be my downfall as I've heard very mixed reviews on some of these 2 year schools.

I am looking to you - the person who is still somehow reading this giant post, yes you! - to help me sort out the best path.

I am starting with almost no experience, I worked in an elderly care facility for about a month 8 years or so ago and left to chase the all mighty dollar in sales. As such I'm not sure if I should dive into an RN or if paying my dues involves getting my CNA first and putting in some grunt work. I hear lots of people talking about the impossibility of getting in to many nursing schools and I am wondering if I would even be a viable candidate without it. Since emergency work has my interest I'm also wondering if getting an EMT certification would be a better path - I would love to hear any opinions.

As far as going to actual nursing school I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of confusing options. If I go to 'traditional college' PCC will have me doing pre-reqs for 2 years for the privilege of applying along with the masses - it almost seems like a scam, give us your money, time, and effort and if you're in the top 5% you MIGHT get in, if not we'll still send you the bill! Considering this stretches it out to 4 years just for an associates degree and a 5th for the seemingly mandatory BSN to work in this area I have to question if this is the best path. People frequently point out the high cost of 2 year schools but 4-5 years even in community college ads up, and then I have to consider the potential wages lost in that extra time. If a school like Breckenridge or Sumner or others I've seen can get me an ASN in 2 years and a BSN in possibly 3 (still researching this) that means 2 extra years at an RN's salary and a jump start at working my way up the salary chain - a gap from say CNA work that would easily cover the extra cost of education in a very short time.

Is my thought process wrong here? I've only been to 3 schools so far (Breckenridge, PCC, and Concorde which only has an LPN program) so I feel like I'm still scraping the surface but I want to avoid wasting time at schools I shouldn't attend and filling my brain with useless information.

I understand that Portland is a flooded market but I believe I can be a stand out candidate, I'm willing to work on making the right connections, proving myself at 'lesser' jobs, and waiting for my opportunity to get where I need to be. I also feel like most of the things that the average person would consider a negative about nursing really appeal to me - the typical 3 12's schedule sounds amazing, and my child-free lifestyle means it won't be an inconvenience but actually a great way for me to tend to my hobbies and get more travel in. I have no qualms about blood, puss, vomit, rude or even violent patients and family, etc and in the past have managed to keep myself separated from office drama. Honestly I'm a bit excited to get dirty and have these experiences, to have the opportunity to rise to a true challenge and maintain grace and composure dealing with situations that would be upsetting for most.

If you've made it this far I'm either a better writer than I thought or much more likely you're a very kind person - thank you for hearing me out and please feel free to impart any advice you may have - include your own rambling stories I'll read every line, I want to soak up as much as I can and make the best decision for my future - 28 isn't old by any stretch but I know I've lost time and I'm ready to start taking my life more seriously. Thank you!

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577 Visitors; 1 Post

Hey Spargo- I am a 29 year old male, been a nurse for 5 years. I'll just fire out some random thoughts I have, hopefully some will be helpful. Hospitals are transitioning into all RN-BSN programs. Meaning, they want you to take those 2 years of pre-reqs and attain a 4 year degree. You'll likely get paid a dollar more per hour too (yay). There's a lot of threatening talk about the difficulty of getting into programs, it almost seems like people try and dissuade others from going into our profession. Make the leap. You'll find a way to get into a program, judging by your post. I never did CNA work and have never been made to feel like I didn't put my time in. Though, any time doing medical or patient care would be beneficial (EMT included). But that would require you to go to some classes for that, and you should be focused on nursing school courses. Lastly, as a male, I'd like to give you some specific advice. Choose your attitude, demeanor, and words wisely. This is still a female dominated profession, and there can be older nurses who don't receive young confident males that well. Well, any new nurses (student or new grad) needs to balance the confidence:cockiness line, but males tend to be perceived more as cocky than confident. It is very important to be confident in what you do with this job, but ALWAYS accept criticism well and be careful to never come across as arrogant. This is the best tip of all I can give a young male entering the nursing career. Best of luck and good choice! Zach- Portland, OR

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3,431 Visitors; 164 Posts

What I would recommend is that you all some of the admissions departments at regionally accredited universities that offer RN-BSN bridge programs (like OHSU and Linfield) in order to check if they will accept the credits earned from schools like Sumner and Breckenridge. You may be able to obtain your RN from these programs, but if your ultimate goal is to work in an Emergency Dept or similar, you will need to have your BSN. Those for-profit schools often will not accept the credit that cost you an arm and a leg and that you worked your butt off to complete. This means that in order to obtain the all-important BSN, you will just have to go back to an acceptable school and take all of your prerequisites again - costing you more time and money. You could potentially be working as an RN while you do this, but it will very likely not be in an exciting field as those jobs will more than likely go to someone who has their BSN, already. In the meantime, I think that you might benefit from taking an EMT course. If anything, it will provide you with potential employment while you are attending school and give you that extra experience that could set you apart from the crowd. You have some research to do! Good Luck!

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478 Visitors; 3 Posts

Thank you very much for your reply, it sounds like you've got some great experience. I will heed your warning and try to maintain a balance, I know that even after a lot of school I'll still be very wet behind the ears and have a lot to learn. Any opinion on the local school programs around here? Are you finding most of the new people are from one school or another?

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LoveMyBugs works as a Pediatrics.

14,342 Visitors; 1,316 Posts

Yes going to PCC or any community college requires 2 years of pre-reqs and 2 years nursing school and 1 year extra for the BSN. But here are some things to consider.

The Cost....my "2 year" ASN cost me $6k after grants were paid. I paid more for my "1 year" BSN than than the whole 4 years.

Accreditation and transfer credits.....I wouldnt go to Sumner....just my personal opinion, they cost more and unsure if their credits transfer, which leads me to my last point.

Reputation of the school.......can they get good clinical placements? Do their grads get hired were you want to work?

You mentioned a flight nurse....have you looked at the job requirements for that job? That requires at least 3 years ICU experience, to get into a hospital to get ICU experience requires a BSN. Mainly becuase OHSU and Emmanuel are the only truama centers in Oregon.

So ask about clinical placements at those hospitals when looking into schools.

Providence hospitals tend to hire U of P students because they have the Providence Scholarship program with U of P

Adventist tends to hire a lot of Walla Walla students because the college is on the Adventist campus and they do thier clinical roations at Adventist

Legacy hires a good mix, but there are a lot of Linfield grads as Linfield is on the Good Sam campus

OHSU tends to hire a lot of thier own grads as well

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