What are the best nurse jobs for moms?
Having a baby changes everything. New mothers may want to think about alternative nurse careers that provide more flexibility for their growing family.
Fortunately, there are so many flexible nurse careers out there for nurses who are ready for a change or just want to step away from the bedside.
Becoming a mother is a full-time job in itself. Depending on your work-life situation, you might want to consider working in a nursing field that is more flexible and offers you the balance that you need. Childcare can be a challenge for nurses, especially for moms who work 12-hour shifts.
In no particular order, here are 5 of the best nurse jobs for moms:
#1. Per diem nurse
#1. Best nurse jobs for moms: per diem nursing
To work “per diem” means to work “by the day.” Per diem nurses are essential to every hospital organization because they allow the administration to fill in gaps where they don’t have enough nurses scheduled to work. It also will enable nurses who don’t have a very flexible schedule, like new moms, to pick the exact hours and days that they can work.
Per diem nurses are often required to work a specific amount of shifts each month. As a per diem nurse myself, I am required to work a minimum of four shifts in a thirty day period. However, I can ask to work as many shifts as I want. It puts me in an excellent position to earn money- I work on all of the days that I have childcare scheduled, and I don’t have to worry about being scheduled on the days I don’t.
Also, per diem nurses are usually able to call off within a specific time frame before a shift starts. For example, if my child becomes sick 12 hours before the start of a nursing shift, and I know I will be unable to work the next day, then I can cancel myself. It leaves a lot of wiggle room for me to schedule or unschedule myself when I need to be at home with my children. Most working moms don’t have that kind of flexibility, and it helps relieve a lot of stress.
The one drawback to per diem nursing is that you are only paid on the days that you work – you don’t have an allotment of sick days. Also, if the facility does not need any additional staffing, then you might get canceled. Which might not be OK if you were depending on the money you were going to earn that day.
Why being a per diem nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Total flexibility over work schedules
- Ability to call-off at the last minute
- Higher per hour pay then career nursing
#2. School Nurse
#2. Best nurse jobs for moms: school nurse
School nurses work in educational facilities, including public and private schools (K through 12). They support students and staff who become ill at work or need other kinds of medical attention.
Also, many school nurses are educators and teach various health topics to kids, such as healthy eating and the importance of physical exercise. School nurses address the physical and mental needs of students, which helps them succeed in school and sets them up for success in the future.
Becoming a school nurse is an excellent job for nurses who are mothers because you would work during regular school hours -the same hours that your children would be at school. It also means that you wouldn’t have to work weekends, night shifts, or holidays.
Many school nurses find the career rewarding because you are able to help start kids out on the right health track from their early years. Many studies show that long term health has a greater success rate when children are taught healthy habits from an early age. School-age kids are impressionable, and nurses can make a significant impact on how they take care of their health as they grow up.
Why being a school nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Only work during regular school hours (no weekends, nights, or holidays)
- A rewarding career helping children develop healthy habits from a young age
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#3. Case manager
#3. Best nurse jobs for moms: case management
Case management is another great opportunity for working moms because you can help patients through planning, care coordination, facilitation, and advocacy of patient’s medical needs. Case managers collaborate with all outside aspects of patient care to make sure the patient stays safe and gets the care they need.
According to the Case Management Society of America, “Case Management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s and family’s comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources to promote patient safety, quality of care, and cost-effective outcomes.”
Additional recommended reading: 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse
#4. Telehealth nurse
#4. Best nurse jobs for moms: teleheath nurse
Telehealth nursing is when nurses can give nursing care, information, or advice to patients over the phone. It also helps to improve efficiency in the healthcare system and help to treat patients in remote areas who otherwise would not be able to receive care.
Telehealth nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and for corporations. It is becoming more widely used in recent years due to improvements in technology and an ncreasing need to help patients remotely.
Why telehealth is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Ability to work remotely from home
- Able to help patients without having to work strenuous shifts in the hospital
#5. Advice Nurse
#5. Best jobs for nurses: advice nurse
When patients are not feeling well at home or have a question about a medical issue, advice nurses are used to help field questions via phone. One of the most significant benefits to patients is that it helps them determine what kind of medical care they need before they come into the hospital.
Why advice nursing is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Flexible hours
- Sometimes a work from home position
- Less strenuous then 12-hour work shifts at the hospital
- Ability to help patients remotely
There are so many alternative nurse careers for nurses who are moms. In fact, that is one of the best reasons to become a nurse – the nursing profession offers so many unique career opportunities that other professions simply do not.
Take care of your family first, and fit your nursing career in a way that serves your family best. Good luck!
Additional recommended reading:
Being a nurse helped prepare me for motherhood.
Nothing can prepare any parent for the insanity of parenthood, because it’s impossible to understand its complexity until you’re there. However, after working as a nurse for so many years before having my children, I do think it gave me a tiny edge.
As an emergency room nurse, I work in a lot of unusual and often stressful situations involving the health and wellbeing of my patients. Admittedly, I’m exhausted on my days off, and sometimes I feel guilty for working such long hours.
But even though I often feel overwhelmed with my crazy life as a working mom, I am so grateful for how my experience as a registered nurse has helped prepare me for motherhood.
Additional recommended reading: Is Nursing A Good Career For Moms?
Toddlers can act just like miniature psych patients.
In the ER, I deal with every single type of mental and psychiatric disorder ever documented in the literature. We work with everything from homicidal schizophrenia to depression or anxiety and everything in between.
Some of the most exciting conversations I have with my two-year-old remind me of similar situations and conversations that I have had working as a healthcare professional.
For example, I have watched my toddler throw herself on the floor in a fit of tears because I didn’t peel the banana “the right way” (believe it or not, I have had similar conversations with patients). I guess you could say that I have had a lot of experience with having irrational discussions over the years.
As a result of my experience working in an ER with an acute psych ward, I have almost no reaction when my toddler melts down or breaks into a fit of rage out of nowhere. I have had too much experience dealing with angry, irrational patients. Having composure and speaking with respect is always the winning choice and warrants the best response in both scenarios. (When a nurse gets mad back at a patient, the patients yells louder. It’s the same with toddlers).
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I stopped worrying about things that aren’t worth my worry.
As a nurse and mom, I am generally more concerned about the things that might seriously injure or kill my children. Sure, a broken arm would suck, and no mom wants to see their child in pain. But a broken bone won’t kill you. Like, for example, falling out a window in a home that hasn’t been childproofed could.
I want my home safe from the significant injuries, but I also don’t want to helicopter-parent them from ever injuring themselves.
(But I also have an irrational fear of swimming pools now too as a direct result of my experience as an ER nurse, so I suppose being a nurse and mom has also made me a bit paranoid as well).
The way I see it is that kids grow and learn so much through play. If they are playing right, they are going to get hurt once in a while. Minor injuries are a part of childhood, and having them can help kids grow and develop resilience to other things that happen to them out in the world.
Additional recommended reading: 9 Tips For Working As A Nurse While Pregnant
Being a nurse is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have healthy children.
I have had the privilege of working with pediatrics as an emergency medicine nurse. As a result, I have watched a lot of parents deal with their children’s chronic illnesses, life-threatening injuries, and so many other medical-related issues that can keep kids in the hospital for weeks, months, or even years.
It makes it hard for me to complain about how busy my life is as a working mother. Because in reality, when you have healthy children, you have everything that you need.
As a working mom and nurse, I see a lot of the bad things that can happen, and it makes me more grateful for the things I have. It is all a challenging balance. But it is also an honor and a privilege – and it has prepared me for motherhood in a way that nothing else really could.
Addiontial recommended reading:
I recently wrote an article about my #1 biggest nursing career fear.
It was a hard post to write. It brought up a lot of emotions for me, but also helped clarify new career goals that I needed to set for myself.
At first glance, it may seem to some that I did that to torture myself. But there was a method to my madness.
I recently began a comprehensive writing and website development course that will take me at least 12 months to complete. And one of my first assignments was to write about a significant fear that I have that pertains to my current writing niche.
As a nurse mom blogger who writes about finding ways to help nurses take better care of themselves, I put a lot of thought into this. And I have concluded that one of the ways I want to take better care of myself is to NOT work as a floor nurse for my entire career.
Unfortunately, the wear-and-tear is starting to break me down. I am afraid that what was once a cerebral challenge is beginning to turn into full-fledged irreparable nurse burnout.
Never let your fear decide your future: my 2021 nursing career fear mantra
As a nurse blogger who frequently blogs specifically about the topic of nurse burnout, I have worked very hard to find solutions for my exhaustion.
My #1 reason for starting a website was to create an outlet for my own overwhelm and fatigue as a nurse and new mom.
Over the last two years, I have spent nearly every minute of my free time researching and exploring possible solutions for these struggles. Then I write it all out clearly as I can with the hope that I can help myself and (hopefully) other nurse moms in my position.
And voila, it works! For a while, anyway.
But, sadly, I eventually find myself feeling burned out again.
So, in the spirit of continuing the blogging assignment I mentioned earlier, I am going to dive in and open up about all of my fears about my nursing career.
It saddens me to think that I may not be a direct patient care nurse for much longer. The healthcare system needs great nurses. But I will always be a nurse, and as I like to say, a nursing practice can take many forms.
My biggest fears as a bedside nurse:
#1. I fear physical injuries from years of nursing.
Nursing career fear #1: physical injuries on the job
There is alarming evidence now that even proper lifting techniques expose nurses’ spines to dangerous forces.
Also, chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%.
Many non-nursing professionals may be alarmed to hear that after only seven years as a bedside nurse, I am already feeling the wear-and-tear of being on my feet all day. I already have chronic back pain. My legs and feet ache for days after a 12-hour shift.
I do a lot of yoga as a preventative measure, and it helps tremendously. But as soon as I have another busy shift with a heavy patient load, the pain returns. Especially when I work with total-care patients.
#2. I fear a life of burnout and constant exhaustion.
Nursing career fear #2: years of chronic exhaustion
I have written many times about my fatigue as a nurse and have even come up with several solutions to beat my nurse burnout (at least temporarily). But if I’m being honest, the only way I even recover from burnout is just not to work at all. It is incredible how much better l feel after stepping away from bedside nursing for a week.
Admittedly, I have created a few of my own unhealthy habits to cope with my nursing career. This is why one of my goals this year is to start taking simple steps to help keep my stress in check so that I don’t end up becoming a patient myself.
I realize now more than ever that, to care for others, I must take care of myself first. And the only proven way I have been able to do that thus far is to step away from the bedside and practice nursing in a different realm.
#3. I fear verbal abuse and violence.
Nursing career fear #3: violence against nurses in the workplace
Abuse against nurses is prevalent. Nurses are expected to put up with levels of abuse that would NEVER be acceptable in any other professional setting. I have been cussed at more times than I can count, in just about every colorful way you could imagine, for just doing my job. And guess what? Not one single abusive patient or family member as EVER been asked to leave the hospital. Sadly, it appears that nurse abuse is acceptable and that nurses must deal with it as a part of the job.
Here is a recent example: I had a patient verbally assault me in the vilest way possible when I brought them their scheduled life-saving anti-rejection medicines. I explained that I was there to help them, and calmly asked the patient several times to stop using vulgar language at me. Finally, I told them I would find them a different nurse and left the room.
Tearfully, I told my charge nurse, who supported me and assigned the patient a different RN. I found out later that the patient was so offended that I refused to be their nurse, that they filed a complaint against me. I also found out later that there were several other nurses in the days prior who had been putting up with the same verbal abuse.
Even worse, violence against nurses is prevalent (especially emergency room nurses), and it usually isn’t even routinely tracked. I have been lucky not to find myself the victim of direct physical violence as a nurse as of yet. Many nurses have not been so not fortunate.
#4. I fear not having more earning potential.
Nursing career fear #4: not reaching a higher earning potential
Working for an hourly wage kind of sucks. I am very driven, and I have a great work ethic. But no matter how hard I work as a nurse, I’m just not going to make any higher (or lower) than my hourly wage. I could work more hours, but I am already experiencing a lot of nurse burnout, and I have a family to take care of as well.
I often think about how nice it would be to get paid more for working harder. And I want the opportunity to earn a better living. Especially because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, and it’s only getting more expensive.
#5. I fear to have a terminal position with no growth opportunity.
Nursing career fear #5: not growing professionally in my career
There are opportunities for nurses who want to move into administrative roles or become nurse practitioners if you are willing to go back to graduate school for a master’s degree or Ph.D. in nursing. (When you work in the UC system in California, you MUST have a Masters Degree In Nursing to move into administration. No exceptions).
However, my bachelor’s degree in nursing was already my second college degree as I am a second career nurse (I have a prior BA in journalism). Not only was going to nursing school in my early 30’s the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was also extraordinarily expensive. I know a few nurses graduating with over $100,000 in nursing school loan debt (I don’t have it in me to tell them they will likely never pay it off on a nurse’s salary- at least not in California).
In addition, I have a family now with two toddlers who need me – and I’m already a working mom. So, I could spend a ton of money going back to school, spend almost no time with my family, have a whole bunch of brand new student loan debt, and have a terrible quality of life for the next 3+ years.
And quite honestly, the idea of being a hospital administrator doesn’t even sound very appealing to me. Not to mention, many nurse practitioners are making less then bedside nurses. Thus, I have a hard time seeing the benefit in more school at the moment.
#6. I fear not putting my own needs first.
Nursing career fear #6: putting my own needs last
In my first career, I was a medical device salesperson because I wanted the opportunity to make a significant amount of money. A decade later, I became a nurse because I genuinely wanted to help people and save lives. I wanted to do something that was so much bigger than myself.
I was proud to become a nurse, and I still am. However, this profession revolves around constantly putting other peoples’ needs first. And it must, because our patients’ lives often depend on it.
But I have a family to care for too. And as a mom of young children, I often feel that I am in constant “survival mode.” This leaves very little time for self-care.
Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
Thinking about the things I fear most is probably my least favorite thing to do. In reality, I am a non-confrontational person and it feels unnatural for me to do a deep-dive into the things I am most afraid of. Especially listing them one-by-one and publishing them on my website!
But, if I can’t be honest with myself about what I feel in my gut when it comes to my nursing career, then how am I supposed to grow and create a better future for myself and my family?
As a busy working mom, I hardly have time to think about myself as it is. It would be a lot easier to pretend my fears didn’t exist and stay super busy until my kids turn 18 and go off to college. But making big life changes is hard, even when they are the best thing for you.
Plus, I would be well into my 50’s by then!
And I don’t have time to waste on being afraid!
Do you have any fears as a bedside nurse? Please leave a comment below!
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Additional articles by Mother Nurse Love:
As s a nurse I have been exposed to so many stressful situations. I’ve been cussed at by angry patients (more times then I can count), swung at, kicked, had a full urinal thrown at me, been exposed to, been in the middle of dozens of violent patient situations and take-downs, and been the victim of nurse bullying.
In addition, I see other nurses being treated poorly from patients, family members, doctors and even sometimes other nurses. In fact, it’s not even unusual. And, like other nurses, I am expected to continue giving compassionate patient care without regard to my own well being.
This sacrificial attitude of putting myself last on a very long spectrum of compassionate care is just not going to cut it anymore. The thought of spending an entire career with this amount of wear-and-tear is frightening. Something has to give before I completely fizzle and burn to a crisp.
Nurses need to have compassion for themselves too.
I came out of nursing school with equal parts compassion and adrenaline to save lives and make a positive difference in the world! In fact, I left a very lucrative 10 year medical equipment sales career so I could do just that. I was determined to advocate for and serve my patients to the best of my ability. Compassion was one of my greatest strengths.
As an overachiever for most of my life I have always maintained the attitude that I can do anything as long as I try hard enough. And now, after 7 years as a registered nurse, I am discovering that I am failing at the one thing that actually defines a great nurse: compassion.
The nurse burnout is real.
What I am currently experiencing is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that is more extreme than anything that I have ever experienced in my adult life. I started my nursing career with the determination to give amazing patient care and here I am, 7 years later, losing my compassion.
(And just so you know – this has been hard for me to acknowledge because I have been a “yes” person my entire life.)
There is beauty in the breakdown.
My nursing burnout amplified after the birth of my first child in 2015. Then, it got even worse after my second child in 2018. In fact, I started writing regularly again out of desperation to find an outlet for the exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue I was feeling as a nurse and new mom. My goal was to find more effective ways to take better care of myself and make my life a little easier. And it actually has helped me find a little reprieve.
But most importantly, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to make some huge changes in my life. Most of all, I need to find my compassion again. But this time I am unapologetically focusing my compassion on myself, first.
So, in light of this discovery, I am 100% accepting and honoring these uncomfortable feelings. I am using them as a catalyst to make changes in my professional and personal life. My mental and physical pain will be an opportunity for growth and finding self-compassion.
I rarely take the time to do nothing and reflect. This is a good year for more of that.
I am on a mission for self-compassion.
You know how when you fly in an airplane, there is the safety warning before take-off? Passengers are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, then help others around them. Because if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not helpful to anyone!
So, here is me putting the oxygen mask on myself first. Some of the changes I am making are professional and some are personal. But they are all things I have been wanting to do for a really long time but haven’t because I was thinking about others’ needs before my own.
Here are my new personal nurse self-care and self-compassion goals:
#1. Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three
This one is hard for me because it equates to a significant decrease in pay (and I really like money!). With two toddler age children, child care is our biggest expense (besides housing) and it’s not going away any time soon. But fortunately, we are in a position to afford it for the time being and I want to use the extra day off to spend more one-on-one time with my adorable babies.
In addition, since most hospital shifts are 12 to 13 hours I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work. I am also staying away from working back-to-back shifts because I just don’t want to be away from my children for more than one day at a time.
#2. Work fewer holidays and as few weekends as possible
After I had children I really hated having to work on holidays. I have missed so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of Julys, Thanksgivings, Christmas and New Years to be working at the hospital. At some point, I started to resent missing that time with my family. Working on holidays is the norm for many nurses, and I expect to work some. But since I will be working a little less anyway this will also equate to working fewer holidays as well. The same goes for weekends.
Self Care for nurses is more important now than ever.
#3. Continue working per diem
There are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to being a per diem nurse. For example, I love that I can schedule myself to work on the exact days I WANT to work. However, it also means that if I am not needed then I get canceled at 0400 and then I don’t make any money for that day. And since I end up paying for a nanny regardless, that’s a double whammy.
The best part of being a per diem nurse is that it offers me a much better work-life balance. When I worked as a career nurse it was almost impossible for me to secure childcare because my work schedule was always changing. Some weeks I got the schedule I needed and others I didn’t. So on the whole, being a per diem nurse is the right choice for me and my family.
#4. Continue writing and growing my website to help other nurse moms
In 2016 I became a nurse blogger. My venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance. Writing about nurse lifestyle topics that interest me and exploring ways that nurses can take better care of themselves helps me to take care of myself better too.
My little blog is even starting to make a small monthly income, which absolutely thrills me. I have a dream that if I keep working hard my website will make enough money that I can work one day a week instead of two.
#5. Take a comprehensive course in website management and blogging
Last week I signed up for a comprehensive blogging course that will probably take me the next 6-8 months to complete. I honestly haven’t been more excited to do something for myself like this in a really long time. In fact, I can’t wait to see my progress over the next year!
#6. Explore other medical-related career options
A few weeks ago I interviewed for an aesthetic sales position. Although I didn’t end up working for the company, it did open my eyes to the fact that there are so many other great opportunities that I could be interested in and also fit my skill set as a nurse. A nursing practice can take many forms and I am giving myself permission to continue learning about other nursing career options.
#7. Focus more energy into my family and friends
One of my New Years resolutions this year was to “choose fun.” So many studies have shown that spending quality time with family and friends is incredibly helpful in decreasing stress and improving burnout symptoms. Since I will be working a little less I will have more time to focus my energy on the people who matter most to me.
#8. Enjoy my new fancy gym membership (with childcare on site!)
In the spirit of investing more in myself, I started 2019 off with a gym membership. It has been a complete game-changer for me. In fact, the old me would never have never splurged on a fancy gym membership. Making regular time to work out always makes me feel great, clears my head and gives me more stamina. And my 1 year old loves the Kid’s Club, so it’s a win-win.
As a nurse and mom, my life basically revolves around caring for everyone else, and I am SO GRATEFUL to be able to do that. But if there is one thing I have learned through my own compassion fatigue it is that I need to put the same care into myself as I do into my patients and family. So in the spirit of self-compassion, I am metaphorically putting on my oxygen mask first, before helping those around me.
#9. Practice more yoga
I have been regularly practicing yoga for 14 years. Finally, in 2o15 I completed Yoga Works’ 4 month Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program for medical professionals. I learned how to teach simple yoga, do guided meditation and perform Reiki. It was amazing!
However, in recent years I have not been practicing as much as I would like, and that is going to change. My goal is to incorporate yoga into my busy schedule every single day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Yoga helps me stay balanced in times of great stress, gives me flexibility (both physically and mentally) and has been extremely grounding. In fact, I recently started teaching my 3-year-old daughter a series of yoga poses and it is bringing us both great joy!
These two are already happy about self-care goal #1: Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three. Job flexibility has never been so important to me.
Nurse self-care matters. If we don’t care for ourselves then how can we expect patients to listen to our health advice and education? I am taking this opportunity to give myself compassion and hopefully lead others by example.
If other nurses find themselves feeling as unappreciated and burnt out as me I encourage them to find ways to care for themselves first. Otherwise, we are perpetuating a broken system that does not acknowledge that nursing burnout is a real issue and ignoring nurse health and well being.
So nurse, what are you going to do to take care of yourself today? Leave a comment!
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I am a second-career RN who took an unconventional path into the nursing profession.
I began my first post-college career as a medical device sales representative selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms. Then after nearly ten years in the business, I decided to go back to college and earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
I hear about nurses becoming second-career medical device or pharma reps all the time. But I have never known anyone who worked in medical device sales and then went back to college for a nursing degree. Not once.
Here is my journey from budding journalist, to corporate sales manager, to nurse – and the lessons that I have learned along the way.
As a young college grad, my priority was making money.
After graduating with a BA in Journalism in 1999, I was ready to start making money. After all, I was broke and tired of being poor. I was also passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, so a sales job in the healthcare field seemed like a natural fit.
Throughout my decade career in sales, I worked for a Fortune 500 company and a few startups. I covered vast territories and at one point even spent almost an entire year living out of a hotel. It was a lot of hard work, but the money was there.
But I got better every year, despite a gnawing feeling that my calling was somewhere else. My twenties flew by before my eyes.
One day after a lot of soul searching, I finally decided to go back to school and earn a BSN. My sales counterparts couldn’t believe I would leave the medical device industry after what most would consider a very financially successful career. I tried to explain the best I could – that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. And medical sales just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.
At 22, my priority was making money. I knew if I worked hard in medical device sales I could earn more then most college grads my age.
I wanted to jump into procedures as a part of the medical team.
Even though I wasn’t an actual healthcare professional at the time, I got to work in hospital operating rooms and observe almost every kind of surgery. It was through those experiences that I learned I wanted to be more genuinely clinical – instead of just repeating a sales pitch with each new physician who gave me the time of day.
More specifically, I wanted to jump into the procedures where I was selling products and be a part of the medical team. Not sit and wait on the sidelines for hours until they used the product I was selling (if they used it at all).
More importantly though, I was continually drawn to help people and learn life-saving clinical skills. I was tired of going home every day feeling as if I wasn’t doing enough with my life to make the world better.
Sounds a little cliche, I know. But this little voice in my head kept telling me that one day all I was going to say about my life was that I was a “salesperson.” And I wanted more than that.
So one day, l quit my career and went back to school to earn my RN.
Nursing school is the hardest thing I have ever done in my professional life.
I paid my way through my nursing prerequisites and another college degree. And let me tell you – college is so much more expensive now then it was in 2000. I was lucky that I had significant savings from my prior career to help get me through.
In addition, I also worked as a bartender at night – sometimes until midnight – and then had to be at a clinical rotation by 0700 the next morning. I studied nonstop for three years. Nursing school was so much harder than medical sales, or my first college degree, for that matter. I didn’t even know school could be that hard.
Still, I pressed on, feeling like I was going to get kicked out at any moment for failing a test (and 1/4 of my cohort did get kicked out, its a miracle I wasn’t in that group). To this day, nursing school is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my professional life.
This photo was taken at my first clinical rotation in nursing school.
I worked as a Certified Nurses Assistant in nursing school.
I worked as a CNA during my last year of nursing school, and I both loved and hated it. It was such an honor to give care to my patients in some of the worst times of their lives. It was primary, basic care – and it was important! I tried to give my patients humility. I helped people feel human when they felt invisible.
But being a CNA was also so challenging- both physically and physiologically. This is because for the first time in my life, I was not at the top of the food chain. I sometimes felt like just a staff person boss around. No longer did I have my salary plus commissions, my company car and expense account, my catered lunches, my bonuses, and my stock awards at the end of the year. And I missed that.
I finally attained my RN, BSN title.
After three years of nursing school and a lot of sweat and tears, I finally graduated with my BSN. I began my career specializing in a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I started a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.
As a nurse, there is always an opportunity to learn.
While being a nurse is exhausting and I have moments of extreme burnout, I do feel that nursing is my calling. I am a closet science geek and love cerebral stimulation that I get as a nurse. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries, and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed. It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things every day at work.
To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.
I am thankful for the professional experience I received in the corporate world as a medical device salesperson.
My experiences have given me a much different perspective than many of my nurse peers. And I see my experiences as a huge advantage for my professional development.
Working in the medical sales industry gave me valuable business and communication skills. I met a lot of great friends with whom I still have close relationships with. My organizational and time management skills are much more fine-tuned, and I learned how to be a professional in the workplace.
I just like to think of myself as being a little more well-rounded now. After all, the businesswomen in me still exists. But now I have the clinical prowess and expertise to match.
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I would love to hear stories from other second-career nurses. What did you do in your first career, and how did you know you wanted to be a nurse? Leave a comment below!
Preparing for 12-hour shifts as a registered nurse requires some prearranged groundwork and organization at home to ensure my day starts off on the right foot. As a working mom, I know I will be gone for a large chunk of time, so I do my best to make sure things are correctly set up at home the day before.
Additionally, as an ER nurse, I know how important it is that I take good care of myself so I can continue to give the best possible care to my family and patients. After all, I can’t expect others to listen to my health education if I don’t take my own advice and stay healthy too. No excuses!
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My top 4 working mom health tips:
#1. Grocery shop and prepare all meals in advance
I grocery shop every three days, so I can prepare meals for my toddlers and for each of my 12-hour shifts at the hospital in advance. To avoid scrambling at the last minute, I always make sure everything is ready and packaged to go the night before.
I prepare several options for the kid’s breakfasts, lunch, and dinner, including:
- Avocado or almond toast
- Bananas, apples, kiwis, various berries
- Black bean or chickpea pasta
- Cheese squares
- Veggies straws with hummus
- Veggie/fruit smoothies
- Sautéed veggies
Also, one day per week, I make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and keep it handy in the fridge for quick meal preparation. When I need it, I add veggies, nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, olive oil, tempeh, or whatever else I have in the fridge at that moment. This is so convenient because I can whip something up quickly for my work lunches, and I also have it on days I’m home with the kids.
The Nutribullet is by far my favorite meal prep tool.
To say I use it at least twice a day would be an understatement! This is my #1 working mom health tip. I make everything from veggie smoothies, to salad dressings, to soups and blended coffee drinks. It makes my life so much easier, especially now that we have kids and time is limited.
The nutribullet is my favorite food making tool.
I have a vegetable and berry smoothie with one tablespoon of Maca powder, flaxseed or hemp seeds for protein, and acai powder. I alternate my veggies between broccoli, spinach, or kale. For the berry part: strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, although sometimes I’ll add half a banana or mango.
I also make several mason jars (16oz) of overnight oats on Sundays with a variety of flavors:
- peanut butter and maple
- banana and walnut
- almond and raisin
Then I’ll either add ground flax seeds or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefit. And I’ll top with a dash of cinnamon. These make such an easy breakfast to go!
Mason jars make preparing breakfasts much easier.
#2. Sleep as much as possible before a 12-hour shift
12-hour shifts usually end up being closer to 14+ at the end of the day. And, many studies show that working 12-hour shifts is damaging to nurse health due to the length of time that nurses end up working. An increased risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers have all been researched and publicized.
Since the shifts are not getting shorter anytime soon, the best thing that nurses can do to take care of themselves is rest as much as possible before shifts. Therefore, I make it a huge priority to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before shifts. (This was so much easier before we had kids!)
A few things I use to help me sleep better at night:
- Eye mask and earplugs. After having kids, I realized that I am an incredibly light sleeper. Even the slightest noises wake me up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I have difficulty falling back asleep again, which is so frustrating when I work a 12-hour shift in the morning.
- Restorative yoga poses. I keep a yoga pillow and a yoga mat right next to the bed that I use for restorative yoga poses about 20 minutes before I try to go to sleep. It helps me decompress me from my day, check-in with myself, and put me into a snugly and sleepy mood.
A yoga pillow is great for restorative yoga poses!
I keep a yoga mat next to my bed for early morning and night yoga stretches.
#3 Get regular exercise on the off days
I always feel so much better when I get my heart rate up on my days off. The benefits of exercise have been well documented; it is essential for nurse self-care. It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and decreases stress levels. Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A yoga session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.
For me, yoga has been a total game-changer for my stress levels. But it’s also great to change up the routine a bit, and I enjoy escaping with my headphones for a run and listening to music. Whatever you do is great, as long as you do it!
A blue tooth headset is great to use for a run or brisk walk.
Those who know me know I’m fanatical about compression socks. Wearing compression stockings helped me work all the way through two pregnancies, and I continue to wear them to this day. They help keep your legs energized, prevent varicose veins, and keep your ankles and feet from getting so swollen after being on your feet all day. Plus, they come in the cutest styles now.
Compression socks will save your legs and feet!
Being a nurse and mom is already hard enough.
But with a little preparation and focus on your well-being and time management, you can be both a healthy nurse and mom and give great care to your patients. It’s time to focus on nurse self-care!
We hope this list of working mom health tips for 12-hour shifts helps to make your life a little easier. Please leave a comment if you have anything you would like to add!
HEY NURSES! Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the signup box below! (scroll down)
Additional Recommended Reading
Working Mom Health Tips For 12 Hour Shifts