Is Nursing A Good Career For Moms?
*Article updated from original post on 2/2018
As a mom and nurse, I have a lot of information to share about this topic – all from personal experience!
One of the main reasons I decided to become a nurse is because I wanted a better work-life balance for when I started my own family.
In my first post-college career, I worked in the corporate world, working 50+ hours a week. At the time, my job also required that I frequently travel for business meetings – often for up to a week at a time. That is a long time to be away when you have small children!
At the time, I also had a few nurse friends who told me that they appreciated the flexibility nursing allowed them when they decided to start families of their own. Nursing was already a career that I was very interested in because I had the desire to work in a field where I could help others and make a difference in the world. And since starting my own family was something that my husband and I eventually wanted, becoming a nurse began to make a lot more sense.
So nine years ago, I went back to college to earn a BSN. I have since found that being a nurse mom has its challenges. However, I love both jobs, so it is worth it for me.
Here are the pros and cons of being a mother and nurse:
Pros of a Nursing Career as a Mom
Nursing is a flexible profession
One of the greatest perks of being a nurse is flexibility. It is possible to make working motherhood work with nearly any schedule.
For example, hospitals are open seven days a week, 365 days a year, and they need a lot of nurses to help with patient care. There are day shifts, night shifts, mid shifts, and even 4-hour break relief shifts available to many nurses. The flexibility also allows many moms to go back to school and earn an advanced nursing degree which can help create even more career opportunities.
There are also many times that nurses can work in a day- including 8, 10, and 12-hour shifts. In the hospital setting, most shifts are usually 12 hours. However, you can also work as a nurse in a doctor’s office, where shifts may only be 8 hours a day. And in some hospital specialties, such as the PACU or Cath Lab, nurses often work 10-hour shifts.
A five-day workweek can become three
Unlike most professions, many full-time nurses work three days a week instead of 5 (a benefit of the 12-hour workday). That means nurse moms get to be home at least four days a week to spend solid, uninterrupted, quality time with their families.
And as a bonus, you will be able to run errands during the non-busy hours. For example, I can take my kids with me to go grocery shopping on Tuesday and Friday mornings – and we are usually one of only a few shoppers there! Running errands is so much easier when the roads and stores are less busy. If fact, since I became a nurse, I can hardly stand shopping on the weekends.
There is no travel required (unless you are a travel nurse)
Travel is a lot of fun in the years before you start a family. But once children come along, that overnight business trip doesn’t seem so exciting anymore. In nursing, you have the option to go to the same workplace each time you go to work. Unless you are attending a nursing conference, there is no reason that you would need to travel for your nursing career.
Nurses can work per diem
Did I mention that nursing is flexible? The most significant benefit I have found being a nurse mom is that I have the option of working per diem. Per diem means “by the day.” As a nurse, you have an opportunity to work the days that you want to work and stay home with your children on the days that you don’t.
Here are a few benefits of per diem nursing:
- Higher pay than a career nurse
- Work as little as one day a week or as many as five days a week (as long as there is a need for an R.N.)
- Make your schedule
- Cancel your shift the day before if you are needed at home
- Add on a shift at the last minute
You can leave your work at work
Nursing does not require that you maintain a home office. In general, nurses do not have to bring work home with them. It is a great feeling to be able to leave your work at work. Best of all, you are not constantly worrying about quotas, reports that you need to turn in, or managing other employees – all of which many moms who work in business or other industries often have to do.
Cons of Having a Nursing Career as a Mom
Nursing is hard work
Don’t get into nursing if you think that it is an easy job. I assure you, it is not. Nursing is the most challenging work that I’ve ever done in my entire life. You will need some recovery time on your days off because nursing can be a very physically and mentally challenging job.
Because the work is so stressful and can often lead to burnout, I always emphasize how important it is that nurses take good care of themselves. Proper nutrition, exercise, yoga, and meditation are a few great ways that nurses can make their health a priority.
Being a mother and nurse at the same time is challenging because both jobs are arguably two of the hardest jobs in the world. Albeit, they also are extremely rewarding as well. So if you are up to facing the challenges that come with being a nurse mom, you can find a lot of joy in being both.
The shifts are long
Since most hospital shifts are 12-13 hours long, you likely won’t see your children at all on the days that you work. Therefore, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed, you will be focused on things entirely outside of your family.
For that reason, I do not work back-to-back shifts because I just don’t want to be away for my children for more than one day at a time (another reason per diem nursing works for me!).
12-hour shifts make for a very long workday. An unfortunate side effect is that you are going to be extra tired on your days off when you are with your kids. But let’s be honest, being at home with your children can be exhausting too!
You may have to work night shifts
Some nurses like to work the night shift. Unfortunately, many nurses, especially nurse moms, do not want to work the night shift. Working graveyards is hard on the body because you are always fighting your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Over time this can cause or exacerbate nurse burnout.
Also, depending on where you work in the hospital, they may have mandatory rotating shifts, meaning that all nurses alternate between night and day shifts. Talk about a confusing schedule!
Motherhood is the hardest job there is. And when you flip your sleep schedule around, it may make it even harder to manage motherhood because you will constantly be fighting with exhaustion.
You will likely have to work some holidays and weekends
Hospitals never sleep, and that includes holidays and weekends. While many people are enjoying a “family day” on a Saturday or Sunday, nurses are often working to take care of patients. Unfortunately, sometimes that can mean missing time with the kids, birthday parties, sporting events, and other special family outings.
There are many trade-offs to being a nurse as a mother. Sometimes you will miss important events, but as an exchange, you can be home during the week on days that everyone else is working.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider in the discussion regarding “Is nursing a good career for moms?” And many things depend on your current career and childcare situation.
I hope this information is helpful for you if you are a mom who is interested in becoming a nurse (or want to be a nurse mom eventually!) If you have any questions about the information in this post, please reach out to me in the comment section.
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