The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse

The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse

The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse

*Written by Sarah Darren

Nursing is always a solid career path for people who have compassion for others and a desire to make a difference in the world. For some, it is a calling, but others get into the field of nursing because it offers a stable and fulfilling career path with lots of interesting opportunities. 

This is a fantastic time to begin training as a nurse, simply because the need has never been greater. Not only are people living longer than they used to and requiring more care, but many healthcare organizations are already having staffing issues. This is expanding an exciting opportunity for those interested in travel nursing. 

There are many perks to becoming a travel nurse!

What Exactly is a Travel Nurse?

Most nurses work for a specific hospital, school, assisted living facility, or other organization. They are traditionally employed and typically know what to expect regarding the work environment and their colleagues. 

On the other hand, travel nurses are temporary staff for hospitals and healthcare facilities all over the country. They take on new assignments every few months (typically in 13-week blocks) and work in hospitals experiencing temporary personnel shortages or a higher-than-expected influx of patients. With shifts occurring in the healthcare industry, the demand is only growing for travel nurses. 

Besides traveling around the country and working in different hospitals, travel nurses have the same responsibilities as permanent nurses. They care for patients and take on miscellaneous tasks to help hospitals run. Travel nurses have to adapt to enter a new work environment every few months, but there are several significant perks to being a travel nurse.  

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Enjoy a Great Salary & Benefits

One of the best perks of becoming a travel nurse is the pay.  Travel nurses generally get new assignments through a nurse contracting firm. This means that they enjoy a great salary from their contracts while also receiving benefits from their contracting firm. 

In general, traveling nurses can expect to make around $65,000-90,000 annually, depending on their work and assignment. In addition to this salary, travel nurses might get allowances for temporary housing and living expenses, retirement contributions, health insurance, and even travel reimbursements. 

Although travel nursing might not sound as stable as traditional nursing jobs, the truth is that the work is usually plentiful enough for nurses to make a great living on the road. The benefits can be as good or better than those from a permanent post. 

Expand Your Personal & Professional Experience

Perks of becoming a travel nurse include: expanding your skills, living in new cities, and learning more money!

Working in one geographic area can provide comfort and stability, but it might not offer you new challenges or the opportunity to expand your skillset and experience. Nurses who don’t have the opportunity to work in a diverse healthcare environment might miss out on fulfilling experiences and the ability to build a more impressive resume. 

Travel nurses get the chance to experience different environments and meet people from all walks of life. Not only does this provide professional benefits, but it also helps nurses grow personally. Working in different types of hospitals is a great way to expand your perspective and develop your communication skills and cultural competency. 

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Looking for a Bit More Freedom? Travel Nursing Could be for You!

Nursing jobs are usually quite stable but can also be rigid when it comes to scheduling and time off. If you’re looking for a little more freedom and flexibility, then travel nursing could be a great solution. Although it would impact your paycheck to pass up a contract, travel nursing gives you the option of taking time off if you need to attend to personal business or just take a long vacation. 

You have a lot more control over your schedule and your life as a traveling nurse. You’ll be living in new places and embarking on new adventures every few months, but you also have the freedom to say no to jobs that don’t suit you. 

Travel nursing is rarely boring and can be deeply satisfying. If you get “itchy feet” and don’t like the idea of spending the next 40 years working in the same hospital in the same town, why not consider taking your career on the road?

If you dream of adventure and feel called to help others, then travel nursing could be the perfect career path. Right now, hospitals need people who are willing to drop everything, roll up their sleeves, and help patients get well.

5 Non-Bedside Nurse Jobs You May Not Know About

5 Non-Bedside Nurse Jobs You May Not Know About

Non-Bedside Nurse Jobs

There are so many career options for nurses outside of the traditional hospital setting.  If nursing is your passion, but doing rounds on the patient floor is not, consider one of these five non-bedside nurse jobs that you may not have heard of before.

#1.  Public Health Advisor

Non-bedside nurse job #1: public health nurse

With the current outbreak of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control is receiving a lot of attention. Many look to organizations like the CDC for guidance on how to stay safe through when a public health crisis strikes.

Nurses make great public health advisors because they already have experience working directly with patients in a variety of healthcare settings.  They can take their clinical knowledge and years of direct patient care experience and apply it in the public health arena.  

Public health advisors develop and implement public health programs.  Also, they build relationships with all levels of government organizations and project management.  It is also possible to get involved in politics to initiate change at the national level, like former nurse Congresswoman Lauren Underwood.

Working as a public health advisor can be a fascinating new career for nurses.  Who knows, one day we could even have a nurse in the oval office!

Recommended Education Level:  The minimum requirement for a public health advisor is a BSN or three years of comparable general experience; however, specialized expertise or completion of higher education programs like an MSN with a concentration in Public Health are preferred.  You can find more information on job listings and requirements here.

#2.  Clinical Trial Nurse

Non-bedside nurse job #2: clinical trial nurse

Clinical trials are the process by which cures for cancer and other diseases are discovered – and they are at the forefront of the ever-changing field of medicine.

A clinical trial nurse serves as coordinators for clinical trials and implements good clinical practice for the emerging treatment modalities. This job is an excellent fit for nurses who are as passionate about patient rights as they are scientific advancement. 

At this very moment, thousands of trials are being conducted worldwide in all fields of medicine. For example, one clinical trial aims to prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis  – as another clinical trial is testing the efficacy of a swab test to detect neurodegenerative disorders. For the nurse with scrutinizing attention to detail and compassion for helping sick patients, becoming a clinical trial nurse would be an exhilarating position to hold. 

Recommended Education Level: A BSN is required for most clinical trial nurse roles. Advanced degrees — such as an MSN — are critical for those who wish to assume a leadership role within clinical trials and research nursing.

#3.  Movie-Set Nurse

Non-bedside nurse job #3: movie set nurse

Hollywood magic knows no limits. Car crashes, fight scenes, and defying gravity are just some of the ways actors and showbiz execs can get hurt on the job, and it happens more often than we think. This is why it’s so important to have skilled medical professionals on set at all times. Nurses, paramedics, and doctors are all found on the sidelines of silver screen productions to provide first-aid care and more.   

Movie productions must staff large groups of people who work long hours. They often work with heavy machinery, putting them at risk for injury.  Often, very risky work is being performed.  Some action scenes – think the kind with stunt doubles – can cause accidents. 

The medical team on-site needs to be able to act quickly in case of incidents and emergencies — making your ER experience a great asset. The ability to stay calm and focused in the wake of accidents are key strengths many nurses already possess. 

Nursing gigs in the film industry are fiercely competitive, so you’ll want to accentuate your ability to act quickly and efficiently if you get a chance to interview. The pay may not be great at first – often as low as $15/hour –  but there’s no telling where an opportunity may take you.  One nurse even got hired to go on tour with Beyonce!

Recommended Education Level: Minimum requirement of an associate’s degree. 

#4.  Hotel/Resort Nurse

Non-bedside nurse job #4: hotel/resort nurse

People on vacation rarely foresee a need for medical care.  But as health care providers, we know that illness and injury can happen anytime, anywhere. Hotels and resorts employ nurses to be on-site in case guests need first-aid or assistance getting more intensive care at a local hospital.

Resort nurse jobs, like this one at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company, can be pretty sweet gigs (pun intended).   Depending on where you find work, you may even be able to spend your days off at the beach or a snowy mountaintop!

Recommended Education Level: Minimum requirement of an associate’s degree. 

#5.  Legal Nurse Consultant

Non-bedside nurse job #5: legal nurse consultant

Legal nurse consultants (LNC) serve as liaisons between the medical and legal fields in a variety of venues.  LNCs can serve as expert witnesses, be employed by law firms that handle medical malpractice or personal injury law, work in forensic environments, and some opt to open their own independent practices. 

The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants has an extensive list of tasks performed by LNCs.  These range from medical research to drafting legal documents and helping attorneys prepare for trial.  In this riveting career, you’ll get to see the legal side of the medical field and use your nursing expertise in the name of justice. 

As an LNC, you can dip your toes in to see how you like the field while building an autonomous career. According to LNC Wendie Howland, any nurse with 8-10 years of experience can serve as an expert witness for an attorney. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn where medical and judiciary interests intersect. 

Recommended Education Level:  An associate’s degree is the minimum requirement, but for certain positions, particularly in forensics, completing a program of higher education like an MSN with a specialization in Forensic Nursing is recommended.

In conclusion

There are so many non-bedside nurse jobs for experienced RN’s who want to advance their careers out of the bedside.  Consider doing a little soul-searching and decide where your nursing career will take you next!

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Aspen Shield

Guest author Pamela Mahler is a content specialist for Aspen University. She is passionate about learning and producing valuable resources that empower others to enhance their lives through education. Aspen University offers CCNE accredited programs at every degree level. Aspen created affordable degrees and 0%-interest payment plans with transparent pricing so that nurses can focus on courses, not the fine print. 

8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse

8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse

There are so many things I wish I knew before I became a nurse.

I remember when I first decided to go to nursing school.  I was 31-years-old and struggling with the idea that I had spent nine years working in a career that I didn’t like.

In my former career life, I was a medical device salesperson.  I had spent nearly a decade selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms, traveling up and down the west coast, schmoozing with doctors and hospital purchasing managers so they would buy my stuff.

But even though my heart wasn’t passionate about my professional at the time, I was excited about working hard and performing well.  So, each year, I met my professional goals and advanced in the profession.  Which, in turn, also made it harder for me to leave.

But then one day, it hit me.  I wanted to be an actual medical professional.  I remember thinking how bored I was sitting on the sidelines as a device rep, watching procedures, and thinking, “this is SO lame, please shoot me!”

From Medical Device Salesperson To Registered Nurse

There are so many things I wish I knew before I became a nurse.

So (a few mental breakdowns later) I finally did it.

I signed up for the seven prerequisite science classes that I needed to take before I was even able to apply to nursing school (as a prior journalism major, I hadn’t taken very many science classes at that point).

I took my classes in the evenings after work.  And I started studying to take the TEAS.  It all took me about a year to complete, and in 2010 I started my journey to become a nurse.

The road has been arduous at times, but I am so glad I went to nursing school when I did.  Yet it would have been nice to have a little more insight into what I was getting myself into.  Here are eight things I wish I knew before becoming a nurse.

Eight things I wish I knew before becoming a nurse:

#1.  Nursing school is crazy hard (and expensive)

Not only will you have daily classes, labs, weekly exams, and intense competition from classmates, but you will also be working hospital shifts as a student nurse.  Many nursing programs also advise against outside work during the program because they warm that you won’t be able to keep up with the work.  And in California (like many other states), hospitals will no longer hire nurses who don’t have a BSN.   As a result, many nurses are graduating from nursing school with 50-100K or more in student loan debt.

#2.  You will probably have to work night shifts, at least in the beginning

Nurses are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Since many nurses don’t want all night until 7:30 am, seniority is often the deciding factor when it comes to assigning nurses to the day shifts.  Some hospital units even have a rule that new nurses must work night shifts for at least the first few years of being there.  You will want to invest in a great set of blackout shades, at least one pair of blue blocker sunglasses, and a box of earplugs (so the guy mowing his lawn at 11 am doesn’t wake you up).

#3.  Working three days a week as a nurse isn’t as easy as it sounds.

I remember thinking how awesome it would be only to have to work three days a week.  I mean, come on, it’s only three days!  But that also means that the days you do work are incredibly long.  Nursing shifts at the hospital are usually 12 hours long. But they are more like 14-16 hours once you factor in oncoming nurse reports, overtime due to short-staffing, and your commute to and from work.

#4.  You will be afraid that you might kill someone.

This one is a real fear because, for example, if a nurse makes a medication error or forgets to check vitals or a patient’s neuro status per order, then you accidentally could kill someone.  But as you grow more tenured in your career, you develop a sixth sense for things that might go wrong, and you figure out how to triple check your work in the most time-crunched circumstances.  And you learn how to assess your patients quickly enough that if there are any vital sign or neuro status changes, that you can get the help you need before things go downhill.

#5.  You will learn to balance more information then you have ever had to before

There is no such thing as multitasking because our brains can’t focus on more than one thing at the same time.  But nurses developed the uncanny ability to juggle multiple ongoing tasks for numerous patients for up to 12 hours a day – such as medical orders, patient requests, vital signs, medications, allergies to medicines, lab values, care plans, etc.   We forget to eat and pee all day, but we remember the essential medical information we need to know for our patients.  Being a nurse stretches your brain further than you ever thought it could go.

#6.  Nurse abuse happens

Nurse against nurses is very common.  Nurses tolerate levels of abuse that would NEVER be acceptable in any other professional setting.  I have been cussed at a few times, in just about every colorful way you could imagine, for just doing my job.

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.

#7.  Your whole body will hurt at the end of your shifts

There is alarming evidence now that even proper lifting techniques expose nurses’ spines to dangerous forces.

If that’s not bad enough, 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%.

You may not be able to escape some of the wear and tear from being a nurse at the bedside.  However, you can pick up healthy habits outside of the hospital like yoga, running, or weightlifting to help recuperate on your days off.

#8.  You will find that there are multiple types of job opportunities away from the bedside

One thing that I Iove about being a nurse is that there are so many job opportunities away from the bedside. So even if you decide that beside nursing isn’t for you anymore, there are other nurse occupations to look into. Here are a few examples:

  • aesthetics nursing
  • legal nurse consultant
  • nurse blogger/freelance writer
  • medical/pharmaceutical sales professional
  • nurse coach
  • nurse recruiter

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9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself as a Nurse

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself as a Nurse

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.

9 Personal Nurse Self Care Goals

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.

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself As A Nurse

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!

9 Personal Nurse Self Care Goals

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.

In conclusion

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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Why I Quit My Corporate Sales Career To Become A Nurse

Why I Quit My Corporate Sales Career To Become A Nurse

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.  

Nurse with stethascope discussing career change

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.

Why I Left Medical Device Sales To Be A Nurse

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.

From Medical Device Salesperson To Registered Nurse

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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Additional Recommended Reading:

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!