September 24, 2012

Career musings

Not too long ago at work, I had a long talk with an experienced nurse (30+ years) about what I should do when I grow up.  Said "crusty old bat" (inside joke) has done it all, psych and non-psych.  So I figured that I'd take advantage of her expertise and ask her what she thought about my career plans post-baby and post-graduation

She asked if I liked psych.  To which I replied that I love it, but that part of me feels compelled to go try medical nursing for a year, both for the experience as well as to affirm that psych is where I want to me.

In her opinion, the refresher course--and she had taken it so this also comes from her experience--was a waste of time.  In the course, I'd spend three months of clinicals being a glorified CNA (just like in clinicals!) and that I shouldn't expect a job to come directly out of it.  She added that where we are currently located, there is a very high concentration of foreign nurses (Filipino, Asian, Mexican) and breaking into units/facilities that are mostly staffed by foreign nurses--and that is a lot of them--is not easy as they tend to favor other foreign nurses.  Like it or not, that is the reality.   

As far as working in the medical end itself, she said not to be surprised if I find myself coming back to psych sooner than that year is up.  All the horror stories of medical nursing are indeed true, even in some of the best facilities.   And speaking of facilities, she warned me off of one that I had been considering working at in a psych and/or medical capacity (this facility has the option to do both).   It would be one of the easiest ways for me to break into medical nursing, but apparently it's not very well-run, management is a mess, some of the managers have impossible standards, and turnover is very high.  For the record, she is far from the first person to warn me off of this place, so I am seriously taking that into account.  I have to decide if the risks are worth the benefit.
And last, she asked, if I am good at--and happy with--psych, why leave my area of expertise?  Why not  remain happy?

She did understand when I told her that I wanted to experience all of this for myself.  She didn't deny that the medical experience would be helpful.  I guess a small part of me feels unfulfilled if I don't give medical nursing a go.  She did give me some good advice about how to go about it if I do decide to.

Also, she advised me not to stop at the BSN, that I need at least a MSN.  I explained that I am undecided between education and nurse practitioner.  The practitioner would mean more money but also having to go for a doctorate degree.  She did suggest that I go for a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) role--that would only require a masters--because that would also lead to better income.  However, the trend has been towards phasing them out so that may not be worth it in the end.  

So she gave me some things to think about.  Of course, no action will be taken until after the baby and graduation, but it's definitely things to muse over.

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