Question about hepatitis B vaccine

Nurses General Nursing


I am planning to enter an ASN program in January. I have all non-nursing courses completed, and was very excited about starting into the nursing program, until I found out that I'm not immune to hepatitis B. I went through the "series" and didn't seroconvert. This scares me! Also, I've been reading on nursing bulletin boards that so many nurses are dissatisfied with their jobs. I am 33 years old, and I'm wondering if I am making the wrong decision here. I'm starting to think that maybe I'm out of my mind to put myself through the torture of nursing school, then expose myself to all kinds of diseases just to be underappreciated, overworked, overstressed and underpaid! What do you guys think? I'm thinking maybe my non-immunity to hep B is a sign that I'm doing the wrong thing. Don't get me wrong--I've been really excited about this until now. I don't have to work. I can stay home and live a very comfortable lifestyle. I have two kids and a wonderful husband. They have all been very tolerant of my chasing my dreams. But now I'm second-guessing myself. Tell me, you nurses out there, is it worth it?

I would tell you to really look at what you

want to do. Answer the main question of - why I do I want to be a nurse? Nursing is a very demanding profession, not just during nursing school, but for as long as you are in the profession. If you go into it for anything other than the chance to help make a difference in another person's life, you'll be dissatisfied. The hours are long and the work is hard, no matter what area you work in. If you work in an office, clinic, hospital, educator, or any aspect it takes time and committment.

It does give you a large variety of areas to choose from as far as where you work, and opens up fields that others can't just shift to.

I have been in nursing 33 years, I've worked in many different specialties, large and small cities, and even outside the U.S.

I still love it. Now, I may not always like what the administration or my co-workers do, or all the aspects of the job, yet I still love helping others, even when they are not at their best. You learn to work with people, meet them where they are at, and do the best you can to help, and no it is not always appreciated. You get your positive strokes from those who do appreciate what you do for them, the fact that you see where what you do makes a difference, when that individual everyone gave up on - walks out of the hospital healthier than when they came in.

Your concerns about Hepatitis (you may need to repeat the series) and other diseases you may be exposed to - universal precautions are used with all patients. Protect yourself.If it were not for the precautions we learn to take probably none of us would be disease free.

Nursing is a great profession despite all the negatives you hear. It's just that its no longer one of 3 or 4 choices of careers women can go into (long ago,when I was in school we could only chose- teaching, secretarial, nursing, or homemaker)so many women choose to go into other careers, and its not a career many men want to dedicate themselves to.

Good luck and may God bless you in whatever decision you make regarding your career.

[This message has been edited by Iris in the morning (edited December 15, 1999).]


40 Posts

Hi confused. You sound scared about school which only means you care enough to do your best and you will and it is worth it. Don't take your negative test to HEP B as a sign your not alone. I had the series 10 years ago and now I just got a new job at a hospital and they tested me and I was negative too!:{ They gave me a booster shot and will test me again in a month to see if it worked. So maybe you just need a booster too. Good Luck.


215 Posts

You have gotten good responses from Iris and JKH to your concerns about nursing in general. I would like to comment on your negative post Hep B series.

Failure to convert with an initial series of Hep B vaccine is a significant indicator for gamma globulin sub class deficiencies (sub group of Primary Immunodeficiency) and is used as part of the diagnostic criteria. It is normal to require a Hep B booster after 10 years but not immediately.

The other vaccine that is used for diagnosing gamma globulin sub class deficiencies is Pneumovax. Actually any recent vaccine that does not result in an antibody titer within a couple of months is an indicator of immune system dysfunction.

Further testing is recommended, especially if you are having frequent infections or anticipating becoming pregnant, or entering a high risk profession like health care.

Treatments are available.

Additional links are: / /


40 Posts

My question is for Sharon. You said it was normal to need a booster for HEP B after 10 years, but is it normal for the blood work to be negative as mine was? They did not seem concerned, they are just redoing the blood work in a month. I completed the series 8 years ago. (I just looked it up)

hoolahan, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,721 Posts

Specializes in Home Health.

I'm not going to address the hepatitis B issue, but the idea of finishing school. If this is what you really want to do, why not go for it? If you are lucky enough not to have to work, then just work part-time in nursing. I have never felt as stressed in my years as working part time, it's full time work in this profession that can burn you out. What kind of nursing would you like to do? You could be a sucstitute school nurse, aplly through your local school board, they will help you get certified. You don't have to have your BSN to sub (in my area). There are a lot of options in nursing. If your family supports you, I say follow your dream, and listen to your gut.


215 Posts

Scenario 1 Healthy immune system.

In my experience, in both occupational health and as a nursing instructor monitoring students after vaccination; at about 10 years post series, the detectable levels of antibodies decline and may not be measurable. That is when a booster is given.

Scenario 2 Impaired immune system

With enough vaccine even an immune comprised person can have a temporary detectable antibody titer. But usually in less then a year, sometimes a matter of days, the level is then no longer detectable.

I have always had post series antibody levels drawn. So I have known what my levels were and how long they lasted. Now that I know there is a problem, I no longer monitor them unless I have had an exposure.


2,719 Posts

I am concerned about your questioning if Nursing is worth it. It sounds like you are looking for a reason to say you've changed your mind. It is worth it only if You believe it is. Not what we tell you. It is tough; it is rewarding. It is also, OK to change your mind. It is OK to put it on the back burner for now. If you are carring these doubts you will not do well. Give yourself some time to know you want this. Otherwise you may enter school and fail inorder to "proove" this was not for you. That is a hard way to go. Know you want it with all your heart. Don't go into it half harted. You have a right to change your mind.

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