Monday, April 16, 2012

C is for Career Crisis

I'm currently having a career crisis.

I am, what is considered in the health care industry, a "new nurse." What that means in practical terms where I live is that I'm pretty much required to work in a long term care or skilled nursing facility. And, well, I hate it. It was never something I wanted to do to begin with and being here has only confirmed that it's not something I want to do. I went from LOVING the elderly to well... something far less than that.

Let me start at the beginning. Nursing is my second career. About 5 years ago, I ripped my life apart by leaving the safety but hellish environment that is corporate America. I wanted to do something that had meaning, where I could give back. I wanted to feel like I was making a difference in someone's life. I have a quote on my computer that says: "You may be the only good thing someone experiences today." I don't know who said and I don't remember where I found it, but it got me through nursing school, when times became tough, I was losing my house and sure in the knowledge that completing my BSN was also going to result in losing my car and filing for bankruptcy. But I was sure... absolutely sure... that what I was doing would result in more fulfillment and a life better served. I did not... absolutely did not expect that I would be where I am today.

I'm ambitious. So instead of going for my associates degree, I opted to spend the extra time and complete my bachelors. I knew that one day I would absolutely go for a masters. I graduated magna cum laude and was inducted into the nursing honor's society, Sigma Theta Tau. I studied my booty off and dreamed and planned. I also wanted to move "home" and knew that staying in the state where I was currently living would stifle my soul further. Staying likely would've meant that I'd already be working in an ER or ICU. But, the day of my final exam my car was loaded and I was driving across country with my cat and the remainder of all the possessions that could be loaded into my car.

I thought... I thought... that coming home would mean there were more hospitals and less nursing schools so I'd have a fighting chance of getting a job in a hospital. I spent 3 weeks studying for the NCLEX (for those not in nursing, that's the exam that gives me a license and allows me to practice in my state as a registered nurse) and passed with 75 questions in 45 minutes. Again, for those not in nursing... that's frickin' AWESOME!!

This time last year, I was filled with hope and confidence. I thought the world was my oyster. And then I started applying for jobs. I figured that my prior work experience, along with what I was able to accomplish in school would give me a toe hold in the door. I couldn't have been more wrong. After about the 100th rejection letter (and I mean that literally), my confidence waned and I took a job in a memory care facility that was really more a psych ward than strictly dementia. I actually enjoyed it for the most part. It was the staff that was crazy. That and being required to work nights. As a morning person, a 9p - 9:30a shift was pretty much the creator of insanity. In addition, I wasn't practicing any of the nursing skills that I had learned in school and I wanted that... needed it in order to get into a hospital. So, I went to a long term care/skilled facility. It has been hell pretty much since month three. It is the polar opposite of what I thought I'd be doing and the dreams that I had created. I fought for a long time to be optimistic and remain happy but I'm worn down. I'm tired.

And now I'm questioning whether it's nursing that I should reevaluate or simply the area of nursing that I've found myself involved in. I'm actively applying to other places right now and my optimism is resurfacing... at least cautiously. I hope... I hope... that it's simply the wrong place and that there is a niche for me where I can either save lives, ease someone's pain (emotional and physical) or assist them and their family with end of life issues and concerns.

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