Should I take the risk on a new job or keep my state pension ?

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I have been an LPN for almost 18 years now and I have worked in a doctors office setting the entire time since graduating from school. I have done some PRN LTC work here and there but never as my full time job.

Recently I have been offered a position as an ADON at a LTC Assisted Living facility. I will say the thought of taking this position both excites me and scares the life out of me. My current job if M-F 8-430, no holidays, no weekends, no nights. I have state benefits and a pension. Down side is we hardly ever get a raise bigger than 2% annually, we frequently work short staffed, and our manager is well to be frank clueless.

I feel like I have no challenge and that I am basically a glorified secretary. Until just the last year this never bothered me but this last year I have just felt useless for lack of a better word. The ADON position would be a HUGE raise, almost $10/hr more than what I make now. The current admin team has been there ranging from 6 months to 3 years. I have worked at this facility PRN over the past 2 years.

The benefits are nowhere near what I have now I would lose all my vacation and sick time. (which I have a substantial amount as I have been with my current employer for 11 years) It would basically be like starting over at age 42. I would be on call every 4th week for 7 days straight and I would be MOD every 6th weekend. I would be working day shift 7-4 Mon-Fri with the exception of coverage which doesn't appear to be a huge problem as this is a smaller facility, only 70-80 residents at a given time. I would get major holidays off.

I just don't know what to do???? Is it too late in life to make a huge change like this?? I've never been on call 24-7 is this stressful??? I've never been and ADON in LTC what tips/advice can you provide??? I guess basically should I just stay put be thankful for a brainless job and just work out my next 20 years and retire and be done or take the risk?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Glorified Secretary,

Congrats on the job offer even though it rocked your world and is causing you angst!

You summed it up perfectly with:


"guess basically should I just stay put be thankful for a brainless job and just work out my next 20 years and retire and be done or take the risk?"

Some would say "never leave a state job with benefits!" Others would say "the universe is telling you to go for it!"

I know what I would do but that's not helpful because I'm not you. You may or may not value being challenged at work as much as I do. You may or may not be more risk averse, ambitious or adventurous than I am. You may be far more sensible and conservative about planning your future and retirement...and so on.

I can't decide for you and there's really no right or wrong answer. I can say that it is not too late in life to make a huge change, and you only live once. 

You're at a fork in the road. You must connect with the answer deep inside. It's a matter of trusting yourself, your instincts, and trying not to make a decision based on fear.

Best wishes in your decision,

Nurse Beth

Specializes in Critical Care.

As you are getting older I would consider your personal financial situation, net worth, retirement planning, etc before taking the leap for this new job.  While you would get the $10/hr pay raise you would be giving up substantial current and future benefits.  Pensions are virtually unheard of these days, but are priceless or at least not to be taken lightly in my opinion.

I felt like you when I was young that being a secretary was boring, then I became a nurse and while it was challenging the stress was overwhelming and many times I wished I could go back to a less stressful even boring secretarial job, but I couldn't live on the pay.   I know you already are a nurse and see this other job as an exciting promotion with a pay raise.  I see it as, of course, it should pay more as it is a promotion, with more responsibility, longer hours, probably salary, on call and as you've said less benefits.  Plus most people don't stay more than 3 years.  That tells you there is something wrong with the working conditions or culture of the company as even basic 401K retirement vesting doesn't occur until 5 years usually.

I would definitely think long and hard before taking the leap.  Regardless if you stay at your state job for now, most likely the opportunity will arise again there or somewhere else as you've mentioned admin has a turnover of between 6 months to 3 years.  I would do a deep dive of the financial condition of the company and read employee reviews on glass door and linked in, talk to your coworkers, esp those who are leaving or have left for why the turnover. 

Can you stay in your state job but look for a job transfer or promotion to make it more interesting or get a pay raise while still keeping your great benefits and tenure?  That would be the best option in my opinion. 

One caveat research your state's financial condition and pension funding as well as some states such as CA and IL are known to have a looming pension crisis which might reduce future benefits.  So even if you stay with the state job, you still need to do additional retirement savings on your own as well.  I would suggest a Roth IRA and an HSA if you use a high deductible health plan.  On the other hand,  some state jobs even offer early retirement pensions and paid health insurance so see if that is an option before you quit your job.  Many people need to retire earlier than planned due to a health issue or to care for a loved one so these are important considerations.

You have a lot to think about it.

Specializes in LTC & Rehab Supervision.

Beautiful answer, Beth. 

OP, is there a way you could shadow for a day as the ADON? To see what it's like? This might help your decision.

I am an ADON at my long term care facility and sometimes feel used and abused LOL. And it’s probably my own fault because of a sense of duty. I have been there 14 years and just the last 3 have been adon. You are the administrative in charge when the others are out. On call can really suck at times. Other times you don’t get many calls. I’ve kinda grown to this position and didn’t start out in it. Some people stay in jobs for the benefits then retire and work where they always wanted to. I have some nurses that worked for the state till they retired then come work for us. I would really evaluate what you would be giving up vs what you would be getting. Fulfillment? Purpose? If your not feeling like your getting what you need there can you get it from a hobby or a class for something you have never done before. Just some things to think about.

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

State benefits and a pension might very well be more financially beneficial in the long term than a $10.00/hr raise is without attached benefits.  For the new offer you need to find out how fast vacation/PTO accrues and what the maximum amount is you can bank. How is the insurance coverage and how much are the premiums/deductible's? What are the policies for sick leave and is any of that paid? Are there retirement benefits available? If there is I'd assume it's a 401k, is there a company match and if so how much is it?  

A new opportunity with added responsibilities and a nice title might look and sound exciting but it might very well not end up being in your best interest accepting. Then again it might be a great opportunity. When it comes down to it only you can really decide if the risk of taking on a new role will fit your long term goals