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Struggling with transition

Hello everyone,

I'm in need of some advice. So, here goes. (I'll try to keep this short!) Hopefully I've posted this in the correct forum.

I'm about to start a post-baccalaureate nursing program in January, after first coming up with this idea 6 years ago. At the time, I was a new college graduate, with an ever-so-useful B.A. in Women's Studies, and I was beginning to realize that I hated sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week and that I was already bored to tears with my chosen career in arts administration. (I used to be an actress/singer.) My mom happened to be going through some heavy medical issues at the time (two kidney transplants, and a bi-lateral hip replacement), and I became fascinated with nursing and with hospitals. I had the idea to go back to school to become a nurse, but money and time and my own insecurities and a bad relationship made me stop and start on this idea. I came close to applying to programs several times, and then talked myself out of it several times. At one point about a year ago, I swore off the career change, and told myself that the office world wasn't so bad.. And then I found out that I finally got into a program. I decided to go for it.

So, I'm on the cusp of what I thought I've wanted for the last 6 years--I'm about to start a program, and I even left my stinky corporate gig and found a job as a resident aide at an assisted-living facility. The job itself is fine and I've been learning a lot. I've been there 5 weeks now, and I'm actually amazed at how quickly I've picked things up.

What I'm really struggling with is the lifestyle change--I used to work the usual 8-5/M-F, and I had lots of time to see my husband, since he also works in an office. In my non-working time in my former life, I used to train for and run marathons. Now, my schedule is all over the map, working days, evenings and weekends, and I'm usually so tired I don't feel like running. (I know it may seem silly to some, but running used to be super important to me, and I hope it still is. I had a lot invested in my identity as "Lola, the crazy runner.")

I knew that evenings and weekends and overnight shifts were part and parcel of the nursing working world (not to mention holidays), but I guess I always thought it would be worth it. Worth it to be doing something that you actually enjoyed, rather than watching the clock on your grey cubicle wall every day. Now I don't know. Am I really not sure, or am I just having a hard time to the change?

It sounds terrible, but almost every day, I think about returning to the office world and schedule, and chucking nursing school and a nursing career AGAIN. (And maybe teaching yoga part-time.) But I know that deep down, I would be immensely disappointed in myself to not see this through. (Plus, what would I say to all of my friends and family? "Oh, yeah, I decided not to do that, so that I could run." That just sounds stupid.) And so, I beat myself up about my struggling with all of this. I think my poor husband is tired of me crying myself to sleep.

So, here's my plea--any advice for how to deal with the erratic schedule and exhaustion? I especially appreciate advice from any second-career nurses out there, who maybe went from the office world to the nursing world. How did you deal with the transition? Do you ever wish you hadn't made the move? Has anyone gone back?

Thanks for reading.

:) lola

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Well congrats on the career change. Now, how to be happy at it? First, give yourself a little longer...five weeks isn't enough time IMHO. Nights takes a long time to get used to.

Next, realize that as a nurse you can USUALLY choose one shift that you work and don't rotate. You can still run, work and go to school - you just have to prioritize your time. Carve out a schedule for running that's set in stone - ie "this is the time I run!" You can make time for everything!

Take care and good luck.

Hey Lola,

It's esunada :). I saw your tread. I'm on this website way too much, mostly because I don't have television and partly to get away from my homework :). Obviously, I'm not a nurse yet, but I know how you're feeling. I worry a lot if I made the right decision and whether it will work out, but when I wipe away all those "what ifs", then I know I took the right path. And plus, we can rarely be 100% sure of anything, we can only strive and hope for the best.

You'll definitely get used to the schedule. I have friends who are nurses that still run half marathons/marathons among other things. It'll be hard though to work, do school, and train for marathons, but it's doable if you keep a schedule! I completed the Twin Cities marathon last year, running only 3 times a week (two long runs); I think a lot of people overwork themselves when they train everyday. Plus running will make you feel less exhausted when you come home from work. Honestly though, I haven't been running lately, but my point is that it is doable if it's important to you. To me running is not a priority right now.

Also, you don't have to be a full-time nurse, most aren't. Most work 64hr work weeks and you could do yoga part-time, too! And there are so many different areas of nursing.

As far as seeing your husband, maybe you can have a date night each week where you do something different! THen you have something to look forward to each week. Sometimes quality time can trump quantity.

As far as quitting the whole nursing thing, if you really feel like it's not what you want to do, then don;t be afriad to quit. I know it sounds like the total opposite of what most people tell you, but I have experience. I went to law school straight out of college thinking it was what I wanted but I realized I went in for the wrong reasons and did little research before I started school. A lot of people go into law school feeling the same way, but stick with it just because they invested so much time, effort, and money into it and worry about what other people will think if they dropout. But they come out of law school hating their job with way more debt than if they had quit working lots of hours to make up for it. I quit after a semester knowing that it was not what I wanted to do. It's like the Afghanistan War - keep investing, more deaths, more money, and eventually we'll win the losing battle, right? Hehe, sorry, that was a little too political.

Anyways, from the sounds of what you wrote though, nursing is still for you. You can job shadow to make sure, do informationals, etc. You seem like you would be a great nurse! Butwhatever decision you make, life goes on. We can't regret, because any decision we make will have both positive and negative conseques that we deal with when we get there.

Sorry, I've been meaning to do the coffee thing, but with school, 2 volunteer gigs, and waitressing, and living on a budget, I've been pretty bad about that kind of stuff. It will happen though!

Hey esunada! Gosh, sounds like you've been busy. Thank you for your reply up above. Most of all, thank you for your story about law school. It does help to have "permission" not to go forward, you know? Also, no worry about getting political. I think we're of the same bent. :) (BTW, you should read "Where Men Win Glory," the latest book by Jon Krakauer. It's about Pat Tillman, the war on terror...it's amazing. I learned a lot about Afghanistan.)

Anyway, I'm still as confused as ever. But I've finally admitted to my parents, my husband and myself that this might not be what I want anymore. That perhaps the sacrifices to achieve this just aren't worth it to me anymore. I don't know yet, but I'll have to decide pretty soon.

No worries about the coffee thing--we'll get there! Hope you have a good weekend. :)


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