Calling all nurses

At the ripe old age of 30, I am making plans to start training for a career in nursing. I am both excited and frightened by all of this and have come here looking for advice, guidance and encouragement.

I know that nursing can be a very difficult career but I believe that it has the potential to be very rewarding as well. I’m looking for practicing nurses to share their experiences with:

[li]Training: Which route did you take (LPN-RN, LVN, RN – 2 year associate’s degree, RN -3 year diploma, RN -4 year bachelor’s degree, RN -Master’s degree, other)? I am planning on going the RN -2 year associate’s degree route unless I hear compelling evidence against this idea. [/li][li]Do you have to work insane hours (i.e. not a set schedule, lots of graveyard shifts, and lots of weekends / holidays?)[/li][li]How easy / hard was it for you to find a job after graduation?[/li][li]How bad is dealing with the bureaucracy (HMO’s, management, etc.)?[/li][li]There seems to be a lot of room for advancement / specialization. Is this an accurate perception?[/li][li]I picture nursing as being very rewarding. I feel like I’ll be able to go home at the end of the day knowing that I helped someone. Is this how you feel (at least some of the time)?[/li][li]Any Ohio nurses care to give specifics on nursing in the state of Ohio?[/li][li]If anyone has any specific leads for nursing related grants or scholarships, that would be great! [/li][/ul]

Any sage advice, anecdotes and encouragement is welcomed and appreciated.

BTW, it is ok for non-practicing nurses to chime in as well! I’d be interested in hearing from anyone really! Feel free to add your experiences working in the medical field, your anecdote about switching careers, or a virtual pat on the back!

tevya, my mom is an RN, and I’ll try to answer the questions you’ve asked as best as I can.

My mom went the 2 year associate’s route for an RN. She has since gotten a bachelor’s degree in health care management. She graduated from the AA program in 1980, and finished her bachelor’s degree in 1995.

My mom mostly has worked in labor & delivery/maternal child health areas. She has some pediatrics experience as well. She started out as staff nurse, eventually was an assistant head nurse, and eventually wound up in management as a unit manager. (i.e. suit-wearing, no bedside care, etc.)

Recently she went back to working as a staff nurse. The hospital she’s at combined positions (maybe as a result of a hospital merger, I’m not sure), and she didn’t make the cut. Before that, she had been laid off from management at a Little Company of Mary hospital because her position was eliminated when they merged with another local hospital.

She has worked all sorts of schedules. For a while she worked 3-11 shift, and then when the hospital she was at went to 12 hour shifts, she worked the 7pm-7am shift. All this was when I was in elementary/junior high school. I don’t know how she managed to function sometimes when she worked nights, as she had to stay up to go to school stuff for me sometimes.

Once she got into management, she was able to consistently work a day shift. However, she was often on call, and if anything happened in the unit, she would often go in on weekends, etc.

I think it also depends on the hospital you end up at. She worked for a time in an inner city hospital. There she worked crazy hours, because they simply couldn’t afford to hire enough help. They also treated lots of medical/medicare patients, and patients with very limited means. In general, though, labor and delivery tends to be pretty stable (IMHO) because you wouldn’t normally schedule a C-section at 3am. So nights can tend to be less busy than days. Obviously there are exceptions when all of a sudden everyone seems to be in labor!

Once my mom got into management, what degree she had made a big difference. That’s why she went on to complete a BS. And even then, at the level she was trying to get to (Director, etc.), they often required a master’s degree, even though my mom had 20 years of experience to offer.

In general, I think it can be a rewarding career. I know my mom has enjoyed it, and has enjoyed being a part of bringing babies into peoples’ lives.

I’d say go for it, if you’re interested. Working hard at a rewarding job is MUCH better than sitting in a cube all day doing something you don’t care about. (although your posting time may drop dramatically! :smiley: )

Best of luck.

Thank you scout1222! That is exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for.

I think it will be exciting to finally have a career instead of a job. I just wonder what took me so darn long to get here!

Welcome to the salt mines!:slight_smile:

Seriously though, I would recommend the 2-yr. program. It is not the best education but you will learn much more on the job. The quicker you get working the better. Most hospitals will reimburse you for courses toward your B.S. once you are working so you can get it for free.

Insane hours are not necessary. You will work either 5 eight hour, 4 ten hour, or 3 twelve hour shifts a week depending on where you work. I have never worked in a hospital that required mandatory overtime and I never would. Any extra shifts are at my discretion. Working every other weekend is common in hospitals but this gives you days off during the week to take care of personal errands, dentist appts., etc.

I have never had a problem finding a job. Never. There is a nursing shortage you know. As a matter of fact, when I took some time off I had other nurses trying to recruit me for their hospitals which pay them bonuses for every nurse they recruit. Finding a job is never difficult so the only work is finding the right job for you. What kind of unit, which shift and so on.

The paperwork and HMO stuff is a pain. (Hey - no job is perfect.)

Lots of room for advancement. There is administration, midwifery, anesthesia, nurse practitioner (in various specialties) and education just to name a few.

I often go home feeling I have helped someone. In that sense, the job is rewarding.

I now work in a hospital and have a lucrative private practice in substance abuse. An R.N. degree is extremely flexible and also travels well. You can move virtually anywhere in the country and get a job immediately.

The major drawbacks these days are under-staffing and risk of infectious diseases (especially hepatitis) from needle sticks.

Good luck in your new career. You will never have to worry about unemployment again.

Thank you for the information and encouraging words ejrn. It’s good to hear confirmation of what I’ve been reading about the availability of nursing jobs. It’s also good to hear a positive review of this career from someone in the field.

Are you me (just a year older)?

I’m sending in my application for a two year BScN program today! I’m not holding my breath about getting in, though. I’ve spoken to a number of nurses, but one thing I’ve found useful is lurking on nursing message boards - this one is my favorite.

It’s kind of scary, though. So many nurses that I’ve talked to sounded disenchanted with the whole thing. Then again, there is so much opportunity - different specialties, different work environments…

Have you been accepted into a program yet? What kind of nursing do you see yourself doing? Le me know how thing work out for you, tevya! Good luck!

Thanks for the great link corvidae! You’ve obviously done more research than I have.

I’m looking at getting a 2 Year Associate’s Degree (RN) from a local Community College. I don’t think I’ll have any problem getting in (at least not if it is a matter of academics) but there may be space issues as it is apparently a very popular program. Can you tell me a little bit about the program you are applying to? How does it differ from a 2 year Associate’s? What are the basic requirements?

I’m not sure exactly what kind of nursing I’ll be doing. I like the idea of being an ER nurse but I have a lot more research to do. I won’t be starting school until the fall so I have awhile to do research. My main issue is that I want to get the ball rolling. I figure that I will have some time to decide what area to specialize in after getting my feet wet with a few classes.

I’m applying to a university program to get my bachelor of nursing. There is this trend towards university level education for nurses, and starting in 2005, the Ontario College of Nurses will require you to have the university degree to practice.

This is the only two year program that I know of (the rest are four years), but you have to have at least two years of university under your belt to get in, which I have.

The basic requirements to get into this program was:
10 full university level courses
1 human physiology course
1 stats course
1 general biology course
1 social science
2 breadth courses (languages, art history, whatnot)
and a mid-70’s average in your last 5 courses.

I just squeak by on the academic requirements, so I hope my references, personal statements and the fact I’ve already got a degree blow them away, but who knows?

I’m interested in labour and delivery, or maternity, at the moment, but I’m open to other possibilities.

I’m not a Nurse, I just play one on tv.