Statue of Florence Nightingale by Arthur George Walker
A hundred years ago now, I made a decision to go to nursing school. It wasn't a decision made in desperation like I see so many make these days. My decision was an answer to a calling. From an early age, I felt the desire to be a nurse so I could help people. The nursing shortage has encouraged many to consider nursing as a second, third or even fourth career. To be sure, some of those nurses have turned out just fine, but others? They may be better suited to engineering. The blessing of this career is that even those who lack people skills can often find a place to shine within this profession.
Although many can stay in one job forever, this doesn't seem to be in my make-up. After awhile, I get bored and start looking around. To give you an idea of how much I've done this, just take a look at where I've been:
Nursing homes- I worked at two of them. One for 1 day (the way they had the previous shift set up meds for the next shift scared me to death), and one for 2 years. I loved the residents, but the work burden, not so much.
Neuro-rehab- Now you can't tell me that the choices we make don't set us up for things that will happen down the road. I had this job long before I birthed my last child and decades before Mr. Larger Than Life cracked his coconut. Talk about foresight-this was spooky.
Transplant nurse- I worked for 4 years as a kidney/pancreas transplant nurse. I liked that job just fine, but couldn't work like that anymore because of Rachel. I needed something more flexible.
Home Care nurse- I worked in that for 1 year but had a few patients who scared the hell out of me and had to stop doing that. One told her grandson that she would hit me on the head so he could steal my wedding ring. One stalked me. One patient's husband threatened to break my leg like he broke his wife's leg. He was a bit upset that I'd called Adult Protective Services on his sorry ass. Truth be told, outside of the confines of a medical practice or hospital, it can be scary out there.
Urology research nurse- I worked for a huge urology practice as a certified clinical research assistant. Since I was working with friends, this was a great job, but it's too bad the docs were impossible. This was a place where above all else, it was the almighty dollar that was worshiped. In addition, I got bored taking care of people with erectile dysfunction, preferring instead to take care of those with more serious health care issues. After Viagra was approved, ED seemed to be the bulk of the practice.
Clinical Research Monitor- This was a lucrative position that had me flying all over the country to monitor a clinical research trial. I liked that job quite a bit, but then 9/11 happened and had me questioning whether or not flying to different cities every single week was such a wise way to work. In fact, on 9/11, I was on the phone with a St. Louis pharmaceutical company interviewing for a position with them while madmen were flying planes into buildings.
ER nurse- now I liked that job. A lot. I like to think that I could go back to doing that if I ever tired of hospice. If you like to be entertained, have a thing for drama, or a well honed love of the ludicrous, this type of job is a sure fit. At the time I worked in that ER, I was a contingent employee and needed full time work with benefits. ICU had that job, so I left.
ICU nurse- After about a year, I loved that job-it took that long to feel comfortable. If my back wasn't in the condition it's in, I'd still be doing that job. The physical burden was too big a price to pay. After working 2 or 3 days in a row, I'd wake up in the morning and hobble around in severe pain. The question on those days was always, is this worth it? Ultimately, it was not.
Hospice nurse- I love this job too. It really is one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had as a nurse and although I miss the camaraderie of working directly with others, I really am well suited for the position that I have. Spending time with patients is often a luxury in a hospital setting, but I've finally found a position which allows me to do just that. If a visit takes 4 hours, then that's what it takes. There aren't too many nursing jobs available that offer time with the patients as a side benefit. For someone who went into nursing out of a desire to help people, this job fits me like a glove.
As you can plainly see, I've been around and I've had the ability to reinvent myself in my career. Today, the beginning of National Nurses Week, reminds me to be thankful for the flexibility of my profession and for the many nurses who have touched my life. I'm grateful for the many mentors I've had within my profession and for the enduring friendships I've made.
Happy Nurse's Week to all of my nursing friends. For all you do, thank you.