OK, let’s get down to business. There is no question amongst nurses working in the field right now…there is an impending nursing shortage. Baby boomers are nearing retirement, and nursing school enrollment is down for multifactorial reasons. You can read American College of nursing aacnursing.org for more information regarding that. I have heard about this projected shortage since I was in nursing school, circa 1998. It’s one of the reasons I went into the field to begin with.
As I have mentioned in my prior post, perusing a career in healthcare was a given for me. Growing up helping take care of my grandma, and being surrounded by her peers, it was natural. I had always had an interest at a very young age in health care and the sciences. As a kid I wanted to be anything from a vet, to a pediatrician, a psychologist, an oceanographer and an art therapist. Ultimately, knowing I would have to choose a career that I would make enough money to pay off student loans. Nursing was the path I chose.
I will say this, nursing was NOT my first career choice. As an oldest child and first generation college graduate, I felt like it was the most reasonable choice. I always have been very reasonable, more so than a risk taker. Not knowing if I could afford 6 to 8 to 12 years of student loans, money was definitely a deciding factor. This being said, early on in nursing school, it was evident the many options a degree in nursing can offer. I received a Bachelors in Science and Nursing, known as a BSN. As a nurse I have worked on a large variety of fields. The fields I have worked in include cardiac intermediate care, general surgery and trauma, endoscopy (both GI and pulmonary), travel nursing, PACU, Pre and Post op for adults and pediatric patients, and currently I am a clinical documentation integrity specialist working partly from home. As you can see, In my fifteen year career I have had my share of different nursing experiences. But as a new grad, you can chose your own path, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwifery, lactation specialist, holistic health, operating room, case management, leadership, even nursing VP. You can even invent equipment, you can design your own scrubs, you can start a blog ;).
So why do I care about the nursing shortage, and your career? Well…honestly, I’m getting old and I don’t want to live the rest of my career short staffed! Actually, I’m not that old, however I have faced long periods of time of working on a unit that is short staffed. With the expected shortage this will only get worse without increased recruitment into the field. Outside of the expected shortage, the field of nursing is moving into a more positive direction. In more recent years nurses are starting to feel the respect that they deserve. Hospitals seem to be making strides to support their nurses. Younger generations of physicians preferring to be called by their first name, culminating more of a physician and nurse team environment. Senior leadership working to find ways to develop advancement opportunities. Giving nurses a way to climb the career ladder either to a higher level position, or in their education. Hospitals fostering a “safe” environment for nurses and staff to speak up when they feel conditions may be unsafe. Yes, nursing is a challenge. It is hard. The field as a whole has room for improvement. You will have to deal with patients feeling their worse, and taking their frustration, anxiety and pain out on you. You feel the wrath of your over worked coworkers and physicians taking their stress out on you. With that being said, nurses will always ban together, they will make good of the hard times, they will support each other. As a nurse you will have a very fulfilling job. If one job is not the right fit, once you gain experience that you WILL need, you can move on to a position that is more fitting. That is more than most fields can provide. It will take some time, but with all the opportunities there is something out there for you.
Thinking back to high school…remember those days when your teachers used to take you on field trips? One time I had a ceramic arts teacher take us to the Kohler production plant. The point was to show students how they can make a career out of their love of molding ceramic art, more specifically porcelain. As a 17 year old I was thinking to my self, yeah Miss Hippy Teacher So and So… great sinks and toilets (sarcasm inserted here). Guess what? Now I’m a 39 year old who’s remodeling my house, and I love those effen toilets! If I only knew then what I know now!!! So get that nursing career, and instead of changing bedpans… find a way to invent your own 😉
Great resources for new grads: