Why I Quit My Corporate Sales Career To Become A Nurse
June 15, 2019
Spread The Love!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 39
  •  
  •  
    39
    Shares

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 10 years in the business I decided to go back to college and earn a Bachelors 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.

Over the course of my decade career in sales I worked for a fortune 500 company and a few startups.  I covered huge 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 then 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 first 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 truly clinical – instead of just repeat a sales pitch with each new physician who gave me the time of day.

More specifically, I wanted to jump in to the procedures that I was selling products and actually be a part of the medical team. Not sit and wait on the side lines 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 clinical life-saving 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 “sales person.”  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 own 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 such a large 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 3 years.  Nursing school was so much harder then medical sales, or my first college degree for that matter.  In fact, 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 actually did get kicked out, its a miracle I wasn’t in that group).  To this day, nursing school is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my professional life.

From Medical Device Salesperson To Registered Nurse

From medical device sales person to nursing school student (this is the only photo I have of myself in my nursing school scrubs).

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 as 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 really 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 on a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I began a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.

As I 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 the 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 everyday 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.

In fact, I am so grateful for my time in medical sales.  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 business women in me still exists.  But now I have the clinical prowess and expertise to match.

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

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!

  •  
    39
    Shares
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 39

Get your FREE copy of "The Nurses Guide to Self Care"

Follow Us On Instagram

Mother Nurse Love © 2019
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED