Thursday, April 10, 2014

Article: Perks of Nursing as a Second Career

Here is an interesting article I came across, written from the perspective of a second career nurse. Much of what she describes I can really relate to (although I'm younger and don't have teenagers, yet!), particularly about my ease and comfort with communicating with patients.

It is a bit odd at times being an older student in the class. Part of me totally feels like I'm still in my 20s. I have lots of energy and enthusiasm. I haven't done any 12 hour shifts yet, mind you, only 8 hours, so that perspective may change in September when the 12 hours shifts start.  I also definitely do NOT feel like I'm 13 steps behind my peers, like she describes. I've always enjoyed learning and using new technology, so its not a bit of a stretch to use it in the hospital setting. Besides, it is new to all of us, regardless of age, as it is equipment we haven't used previously.

What I completely DO agree with her, are priorities and limit setting. I've climbed the corporate ladder, I've worked the insane hours to get stuff done in order to make a good impression and advance my career. I've learned how easy it is to potentially burn out and damage your health. That is where I'll be placing reasonable limits on in my nursing career.

Don't get me wrong. I will work hard, be meticulous and definitely pull my share and help out elsewhere when I can. But at the same time, I will not feel terrible about turning down lots of extra shifts, if I'm offered them. At this stage in my life, it is not about climbing the corporate ladder. I've been in management, and it holds zero appeal to me. I simply want to enjoy the work I do, with patients, and work hard and do a good job when I'm working. If that means working part-time while taking on a few casual shifts, that's fine too. At this stage of life, in my opinion, its about balance. And nursing is a career that most definitely offers that option.

And I totally encourage anyone to pursue a second career, if that is where your heart and interest and passion is. Change is very scary, but also very rewarding.

Enjoy the article.  I've included the link to the original website at the end. If you're interested, click on the link, as there are about 67 comments related to it, that are also very interesting to read!


"The Perks of Nursing as a Second Career
Yes, you’ve got what it takes!

What would prompt a 45-year-old mother of teenagers to pursue a career in nursing?

Delusional thinking, some might say. At times I thought I was mad. How could I keep up with those tireless, technology-savvy twenty-somethings? Still I couldn’t ignore my inner rumbling. I wanted to do something significant with my life.

When I was younger, nursing was my dream. But I wasn’t the student I needed to be to make that a reality. Instead, I got a degree in social work. But like many women my age, I got married, had my first child, and traded in my dry-clean-only wardrobe for playdate attire.

The children grew up. At about 40, I started thinking about nursing again. Since I wasn’t getting any younger, I realized if I wanted to do it, I had to do it now. Five years later, I’m ready to take my State Board Exam and work at a rehabilitation hospital in the brain injury unit.

Being a second career nurse isn’t easy—and it probably never will be. I often feel like I’m 13 steps behind the young new nurses. Nursing is physical, and with a body that’s already slowing down, the eight- and twelve-hour shifts are draining.

I also find myself worrying about adjusting to the technology—which younger students are proficient at. Once you get used to one pump, it’s gone and the next one comes in. I’ve spoken with other second-career nurses, and all share that feeling of not being able to keep up.

But through the discouragement, I’ve learned what second career nurses have to offer.

Your Unique Experience
Second career nurses bring to the nursing profession something younger nurses don’t have: life experience. My fellow students—most who were about 20 years younger than I—often said to me, “You’re just so comfortable and confident.” They mentioned how nervous they felt when talking to a patient. I’ve never really stressed about that. I chalk that up to my background in social work and because I’ve had my own children and been through lots of family health situations. I bring more empathy and knowledge to the nursing environment.

I also think I’ve gained confidence as I’ve gotten older; I am not afraid to say to myself, I am still smart. I can still do it…and I’m going to do it. Seasoned nurses might snidely question the way I do things, but I don’t take it personally. Instead, I deal with it. I’ve encountered enough catty people in my life—from my previous work as a social worker to the PTO--to know that usually these people have insecurities of their own.

As a second career nurse, I’m also sure of my priorities. Often, hospitals want younger students who want to climb the corporate ladder—and, hence, are willing to take the tough shifts. At this stage in my life, accelerating in my career isn’t my first priority; my family is. So, I’ve chosen to be pickier about my shifts.

I encourage others to pursue a nursing career, even if you feel over-the-hill. Health care professionals are hugely in demand, and good, caring ones are going to be the difference in solving the problems we face. Each of us has something different to offer—whatever our life stage—and working together we can make a difference."

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