Was I a complete idiot for wanting to get into OB? Now I'm lost and don't know what to do with my life.

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When I was a freshmen in high school, my friend’s mom was a Labor and Delivery nurse. She talked about her job often, and I always found her stories fascinating. I would ask tons of questions, and she noticed I was super interested in OB nursing so she invited me, her daughter, and a group of students from our class, to come to the hospital and show us around. She took us to a class room and talked to us about her job. Showed us different instruments used during labor, and described the process. She even showed us real placenta. Everyone found it gross and uninteresting, but honestly I loved every minute of it. I knew that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. No other career excited me in any way. Well I graduated high school, went to college and got into nursing school.

Once I was in nursing school, I realized that half the nursing students in my cohort wanted OB. I was shocked and disappointed that area was so popular. There are only 3 delivery hospital areas in my area, so obviously not all of us could work there. I also looked online and found out how popular this specialty was, and how extremely difficult it is to get into. My heart sunk. All this work for a pipe dream, when I thought it was a realistic plan. During my clinical rotation I met a nurse that told me she applied to OB several times in the last ten years and couldn't get in. From what I saw she was an excellent nurse, so if she can’t get in, how can I. I was an average student. I absolutely loved learning and my clinical rotations, but nothing about me stands out as an excellent nurse. Other students in my cohort were much smarter, and far more gifted. I’m just OK. I feel like I wasted my life. Other areas of nursing are fine, but not anywhere near as exciting and special to me. I had one day in clinical at the labor and delivery unit, and I thought, this is it! I’ll never work here, but at least I had one day to live my dream. Best day of nursing school ever, even cried after. I graduated nursing school and never took the NCLEX. Every time I sat down to study I got depressed. I feel sick when I think about nursing, and now don’t know what to do. My family is extremely disappointed in me not taking the NCLEX, and just having a minimum wage job. I’m thinking about taking the NCLEX and getting a normal floor job, even though it doesn’t have a strong appeal to me. I feel like an idiot, and wish I could back in time an punch myself. Why did I think it would be so easy? I also had a clinical in the OR and loved it. I looked it up and found out that was hard to get into also but not impossible. from what I understand the hospitals only accept pari-op once a year and there is no guarantee of getting a seat. Any advice would help.


21 Posts

sorry for the errors. I tried to edit but It wouldn't let me. Am I the only one with issue with the editing button?


LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 9 years experience. 972 Posts

Hi Ruby, I would say don't give up before you try! It's good that you have a job and income while you study and take the NCLEX. Focus on the positive that it IS possible to get a job in OB but it may take time and may not be easy.

A few options would be to move to an area where they will offer you a new grad job, get experience and move back home (or stay there if you like it!), or apply all around your area, network etc. Give yourself a time period, keep working your other job, and if you reach the limit and don't have a job in OB, if you are willing take another type of nursing job that will give you relevant experience, get the experience and re-apply.

There are non-hospital OB jobs in clinics that provide prenatal and postpartum care and newborn care. I worked in a primary care clinic and learned tons about OB... non-stress tests, fetal heart tones, pregnancy emergencies, ultrasounds. It's not the same as helping someone give birth but it is relevant experience for sure. Lots of options! I hope something works out and you can achieve your dreams.


Specializes in PICU. Has 16 years experience. 1,258 Posts

Not sure why you gave up... There is nothing that indicated you couldn't get a job in OB.

Why did you let other people's experiences and opinions weigh you down so much.

I am quite shocked that you never even gave yourself a chance to get a job in OB. Nothing is ever easy and there are convoluted pathways to get to where we want. You never gave yourself even chance.

Take the NCLEX, without it your chances are 0, with it, you have increased your chances exponentially. Again, why let other people's experiences cloud yours. Once you pass the NCLEX you will have your own story to tell that will be greatly different than others.

I truly am surprised that you did not take the NCLEX over someone else's experience. Nursing is hard, nothing is easy in life.


21 Posts

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN,

Thank you so much for your reply. I am willing to take other jobs and move. I know my dream isn't impossible, just much more difficult than what I expected. A non-hospital OB job in clinic would be amazing. There are other areas of nursing I enjoy, I just got super focused on one area. I'm trying to retrain my brain and find motivation to take the NCLEX. I graduated a year ago, but I'm trying to stop letting this get me down. Again think you for your advice.

Edited by RubyJuly2020


21 Posts


Thank you for your reply. I know there is nothing stopping me, but the competition for a very popular specialty threw me off. I wasn't really expecting it. I was just an average student nurse. Nothing about me stood out, and I feel getting a highly coveted job will be very difficult. I don't want to keep letting that get in my way of passing the NCLEX. There are other areas of nursing I enjoyed and maybe yes there is a possibility I get a in OB one day. Thank you for the motivation.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 41 years experience. 4,295 Posts

I don't really have a lot to add to the excellent advice you've already received. Just wanted to point out that taking an all-or-nothing approach to life is a good way to end up with nothing.

You've already made significant progress toward your goal. Why stop now because it's a bit harder than you expected? Would you give up on a mother who was having a particularly difficult labour? You need to persevere to birth your career. (I didn't mean for that to rhyme.)


21 Posts

6 minutes ago, TriciaJ said:

Just wanted to point out that taking an all-or-nothing approach to life is a good way to end up with nothing. Why stop now because it's a bit harder than you expected? Would you give up on a mother who was having a particularly difficult labour? You need to persevere to birth your career. (I didn't mean for that to rhyme.)

TriciaJ, RN,

Thank you so much for your advice. I agree that a all or nothing approach got me nowhere, and I'm done having it hold me back. I won't give up on myself or my future patients. Thank you again, I'm ready to start my career.


Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 46 years experience. 7,040 Posts

Hey RubyJuly2020. We all have those "what have I gotten myself into moments?".

I think what you are visualizing as competition is not competition. Whether half your cohort are now working in OB or not, a lot of nursing students say they want OB or peds, and run like the wind when they find out "I just love babies" is very complex and entails a steep learning curve.

Likewise, the nurse who applied for OB several times in the last 10 years and wasn't hired is not your competition. You see an excellent nurse, they may have seen something else.

You were lucky to have your friend's mom be so generous about sharing her experiences, the tour, etc.

I remember I had to "shadow" a nurse during a high school career program, and really had the luck of the draw with the nurse I was assigned to. Her personality was similar to what you described.

I always thought wherever I end up, I want to be "that nurse". It's helped me navigate the rough patches.

Best wishes for success on the NCLEX!


RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience. 4,556 Posts

You have learned the difference between a fantasy and a dream. We all learn this sooner or later.

Fantasies involve wishing on a star. Every thing comes easily and exactly as you want.

Dreams are goals. Like becoming an Olympic medalist, you gotta put in the work. Dreams usually have competition, setbacks, and unexpected twists with no guaranteed results.

In nursing, lots of us got started in less than ideal jobs. Less desirable jobs tend to hire new grads. To reach our goals, a lot of us learned to be strategic, bounce back from disappointment and keep going.


38,333 Posts

Take the energy you are investing in self criticism to set up an appointment to take the NCLEX and then preparing for it. When you find your mind wandering back to self criticism, remind yourself that you will have plenty of time to criticize yourself after you have passed NCLEX. Then your goal to allow self criticism becomes getting your license. Then getting that first job. Then learning the job. See where this is going? Your self criticism time and energy can be put to good use. Someday you will realize that you can achieve any goal that you set for yourself, if only you will save the self criticism for "later". Good luck.

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 10,140 Posts

13 hours ago, RubyJuly2020 said:

sorry for the errors. I tried to edit but It wouldn't let me. Am I the only one with issue with the editing button?

After a certain amount of time, an hour I believe, the option to edit a post expires. The ability to edit for a longer time span is a perc for paying members.

13 hours ago, RubyJuly2020 said:

Any advice would help.

We need to examine why certain things interest us; what's the motivation?

Just about every female in my nursing class wanted to go into OB, Peds, or L&D. I figured their motivation was driven by hormones, the natural need to be a part of procreation and care of mothers, infants, and children.

I really really wanted to become a medical nurse because it was so danged interesting to me- the A&P, and treatment of trauma and diseases.

In 1983, the hospital where I did my clinicals was opening up a brand newly built psych unit. As a student LPN, fate would have it that I intervened with an acting out psych patient on a medical floor and got the situation under control. The chief of security told the DON, "You ought to hire Dave for the new psych unit".

"So there it is", I thought, "my foot in the door. I'll work psych for a while, then get into something medical because that's what I want to do!"

I will not go over my whole 37 year nursing career with you, RubyJuly, (even though I would enjoy it immensely) but suffice it to say that every time I got into the medical end of nursing, the path always led to psych!

Seneca said, “The fates lead those who will. Those who won't, they drag.”

In 1996, while working in HH, I discharged my last truly medical patient. I have worked psych ever since and have been truly happy and satisfied.

I had to learn that The Fates were leading me to psych nursing. And now, after 17 years of working almost inclusively with the geriatric psych population which has its fair share of medical, I can honestly state that I have had a rich, satisfying career.

My advice: Allow The Fates to lead you, for they may not lead you where you want to be, but they will lead you to where you need to be.

Good luck and the very best to you, RubyJuly!