Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thoughts on career change

To those of you who are wanting to change careers, to willingly choose to leave an established career for something new, I can honestly say I know exactly where you're coming from. I had a great career going -- job stability, great pay, awesome benefits, pension that is probably among the best in Canada, fully paid vacation time. It really was the 'golden handcuffs' that kept me there longer than it should have.

Some/most of my extended family thought I was nuts for even thinking of leaving such a job. But yeah, "soul sucking" is the perfect expression for a job where you show up day after day, only the money, and eventual pension. Many colleagues were equally unhappy, and repeatedly told me to "just think of it as pensionable time".  knew I had sooo much to give and was wasting my real potential in this established career.  I wanted more out of a career than just looking at it as 'pensionable time'. I wanted to be doing something useful, where I could contribute something of value -- something valuable to others and of value to myself.

And yes, I totally appreciate that I had the privilege of being able to even think of switching careers. I fully recognize that many people would maybe love to change what they're doing, but have financial obligations that don't allow them to. In making the decision, I had the support of a loving spouse who has a good job, and typically, we mostly lived off one income and saved our money, which ultimately helped me leave the workforce for a few years. It was not a 'spur of the moment' decision. Far from it.

Honestly, making that decision to leave my job was THE hardest one of my life. Transition sucks -- it is a time that brought out all my insecurities and fears. But knowing I was going into nursing made it a bit easier...knowing that there are jobs and that I would be working.  I just had to trust that it would all work out -- I was going to work hard and give it my all.

Once the decision was (finally!) made, there was no turning back. I was lucky enough to have a leave of absence from my work for 8 months. I was able to do my first year of nursing school, and my employed held my job. If for some reason, after one year, I thought it was the wrong decision, I had the option of going back.

When I did go back for a few months after first year of nursing school, that was when the decision to leave became crystal clear. After 8 months away, I was back at my desk for a few months to make some extra money before finally leaving. However, in that first week back, I looked at my work week, and realized that I was still going to be attending the SAME meetings, the same issues were being discussed, with seeming little or no progress. It was like a time warp had happened, where I had had all there interesting experiences in nursing school, and now was suddenly back to the work environment, and it was like I hadn't even been away. I had a feeling of relief the last day I walked of my first career, knowing it was really, truly over. That was the moment when I finally felt some relief about making the decision -- it was DONE -- and I could focus on moving forward.

Fast forward a few years -- I graduated magna cum laude, won an award for the student in my graduating class who, "consistently demonstrated exemplary professional deportment, consistent grades and superior clinical performance throughout the four years of the nursing program", passed the NCLEX and am now in the middle of orientation of my dream job -- in a busy emergency room, 10 minutes from my house. And I should add, I'm back to having a full pension and benefits!

Financially, I'll never re-coup what I lost in earnings over those four year of school. I make less now that I did before, but I do have those benefits health/pension benefits again. I'm working 12 hour days and days, nights, weekends...but I can honestly say, I now look forward to going to work. When I leave the hospital, I have a sense of satisfaction that I was able to do something good for people. Patients won't remember me or my name, and I don't care about that -- but I do know that some will remember that nice, red-headed nurse who helped them.

I have a feeling of inner peace when it comes to my work. I am proud to tell people who ask, that I'm a trauma nurse. I feel fortunate to be able to have skills that can help people when they're feeling at their most vulnerable. This is a career where the opportunities are endless -- research, teaching, mentoring, changing specialties, taking more courses, becoming a NP, clinic nursing. There is a niche for everyone in nursing, and one never feels stuck in one area.

Yes, I'm still a new nurse -- not yet frustrated and cynical and tired, like many I see. Yes, there are many frustrations in nursing, as elsewhere. I'm not wearing rose-coloured glasses and only seeing the positive. I'm well aware of negative aspects too -- of having too heavy a patient load, demanding/rude patients and families, feeling overwhelmed at times with work to be done, staffing issues, etc. However, in every shift, there are so many positive examples of patient interaction, that I'm able to focus more on that, instead of the negative. And my career path was so different than the vast majority of my colleagues -- I truly wanted to be here, and in some ways, sacrificed a lot to get here.

And I am so grateful to be here. I honestly love my job/career now. It was an incredibly hard decision, but overall, definitely worth it.  That's my story.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Ultimate Goal ACHIEVED -- TRAUMA NURSE!!!!!

Here is a long overdue update. I've been a nurse now for almost a year. I have learned so much...and there is still so much to learn!!! I guess that's the beauty of nursing. One will always be learning. IF a nurse thinks he/she knows what they need to know, watch out. There is a-l-w-a-y-s new stuff to learn in the medical field.

I've signed the paperwork for my new job as an ER nurse. It seems hardly real to write that. I've had this dream since I was 16 years old, and discovered my passion for ER in our local hospital that I volunteered at. I never quite believed it would come true, but it finally has

I recently accepted an offer for a full time, permanent position at the hospital that is 7 minutes from my home. It is an incredible opportunity and I am going to learn so much. Once I have become a competent ER nurse, there will truly be nothing in the nursing field that I cannot do. Not that I will know everything (i.e. see para above!), but in the sense that ER nurses face, and cope with, so many unexpected and unpredictable situations, that they learn to think on their feet an act quickly, as required. One NP colleague told me recently, that once I've done this job for awhile, nothing will ever scare me in the future -- in terms of thinking there is nothing I won't be able to handle.

That does not mean I'll know exactly what to do in every situation, but that I'll have the confidence in my experience and skills to know that I'm capable of coping with situations. I believe that, and it's a great feeling.

I'm somewhat dreading the upcoming lifestyle/schedule change. It is wonderful in the clinic where I currently work - no nights, no weekends. However, I do want to learn more nursing skills. I'll be staying on at the clinic casually, but really want to gain the ER skills and knowledge.

It is going to be quite the ride....I say, bring it on!!!

Trauma RN Kate

Friday, October 23, 2015

Several months in as an RN

Life has been so busy and so exciting these past few months...and so terrifying at times and so rewarding at other times.

I am now working 2 jobs -- one in primary care and one in acute care. This way, I am truly getting the best of both worlds. I love this. In primary care, I am getting to know the patients at our clinic, forging the basis of long-term relationships with patients that I find very rewarding. And at the hospital, I am learning how to be an independently functional nurse, working on honing my skills and my time management skills. Both of which are currently facing a huge learning curve! Lol

I've met so many nice and supportive people. In a few short months I've also learned a lot about human behaviour, family behaviour and how to deal with both pleasant and difficult situations.

I have anyone yet to die while I'm working, so that is something that I know I need to face one of these days. Part of me is so relieved when every hospital shift goes well, and yet I know it is lurking there, and a small part of me wants to face it, so that I can face that own personal fear of mine. What grim thoughts.

Back to better things. At the clinic, I am slowly starting to feel like a relatively competent nurse. I am really enjoying telephone triage shifts in particular -- our clinic has a mini telehealth program, where nurses have medical directives for certain conditions and we can use our templates to prescribe medications for some callers, and give advice and book patients urgently, and sometimes do counselling and whatever else happens to be the topic of the call. I am an extremely visually oriented person, I feel the most confident when I can assess my patients visually as well as physically, but I am finding that I am so enjoying the triage shifts. Love them!!!

And the hospital shifts are going well too. I am so blessed to be with an extremely supportive group of nurses, some very, very experienced, and others relatively new, but all that I've worked with have a strong team mentality and help me out and answer my questions as they arise. At that job, the understanding is that I'll work a few months in my current position to gain experience, and then they will start transitioning me to ultimate passion.

Life is good. Life is busy. Life is very tiring at times. Oh, we also got a tiny puppy to add to the mix, just to make sure we're not busy enough! She's a golden retriever and some days appears to be growing before our eyes. We are completely smitten with her - pure puppy love!

In hindsight, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to make this career change. There have been moments when I completely doubted my sanity in making the career change....berating myself why I just didn't stay put in the comfy job I had. But those moments, although intense, have been fleeing. I am ultimately so happy now, looking forward to what my workday brings, even though I am still apprehensive at the start of shifts and at certain moments during the day, or night!

I LOVE being a nurse. Life is great.

RN Kate

Friday, July 24, 2015

When it rains, it pours

This week, it is raining good stuff.

NCLEX: passed
RN goal: achieved
Job offer: accepted

Happy, happy dance!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

I did the craziest thing last night

I am studying and studying. And starting to drive myself crazy with just sitting and studying (and perhaps eating, too, when I study!).

Last night, on an impulse decision (even though it is something I've been thinking about for a long time), I signed myself up to run a half-marathon in September.


I don't remember the last time I went for a run. So I went this morning for a short run, to see if I still could run (maybe that's something I should have done before signing up, but hey, that's me). I managed to do 3.5 km. That is nowhere near 21 km, but all things considered, it is a good start. It was not fast, but it was a run.

My goals are 1- to finish the half-marathon, and if I succeed with goal 1, then goal 2 is not to be the last person in my age category!!! (at least second last would be fine!)

I think some wise old ancient Greek guy said, "Healthy mind, healthy body." If I want to conquer this nursing licensing exam, I gotta get the healthy body to help out.  Plus, I like the idea of actually doing the stuff I tell my patients they need to/really should be doing.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

NCLEX booked!!!!

I cannot believe the absolute final step of this nursing school/registered nurse journey is now official.

My exam is set for July 28, 2 pm.

We were always told that we get to choose our date/time for the NCLEX exam, which is a major change from the Canadian Registered Nurses Exam (CRNE), which was only given 3 or 4 times a year. As of 2015, all Canadian nurses must write the NCLEX to become registered. So we are part of the new cohort for this license.

Back to booking the exam...yes, it is entirely true that candidates get to choose the date/time of the exam. However, what we weren't told, was that it is only offered sporadically! So we choose the date that works for us, among the slim pickings of it being offered.

When I went to book my exam, I had the choice of either June 24-26ish, I don't remember exactly, but it was definitely too soon, or the next available dates were July 27, 28. The one offered July 27 was to be written at 8 am, and I definitely not a morning person!!! I thought back to all the sleepless nights I had before dayshifts, stressing that my 2 or 3 alarms had failed and was wondering what time it was. Crazy, sleepless nights those were. And there is no way I'm subjecting myself to that before the most important exam of my life, when there are alternatives!

So 2 pm, on July 28th it is.  Yay! Later than I'd hoped, but still, yay!

And I must say I've ordered the Saunders book and online package for RN-NCLEX prep, and I think it is absolutely amazing! They provide you with a personalized 6 week study schedule based on an assessment test. I think the book is really well written, the online questions re-inforce what you've just learned, and they have lots of quizzing options.  I've heard lots of good things about many prep courses, but for me, this one rocks! I already feel confident that July 28th will go great.

(Full disclosure -- no, I am not being paid to write this brief review, sadly!)

The job situation is a bit discouraging, when one chooses a consolidation placement that really wasn't a good fit. I mean, the people were awesome, I did learn a lot and did a variety of tasks, but ultimately, I belong in acute care in a hospital or a clinic where I am working with patients on a regular basis (and less time in front of a computer). I know something will eventually come about, but like I said, its a bit discouraging when I see my classmates being handed jobs where they consolidated, and they're getting them where I want to be!

However, I must admit, I haven't been trying too hard yet to look for work. We went to France for a glorious vacation...I am still homesick for France, and am going through fresh bread withdrawal. I'm taking an awesome coronary care/assessment course where I am slowly starting to make sense of complex ECGs and loving it, and frankly, want to focus primarily on getting licensed. Then I will do a full-out job search for a place I really want to work in.

Its funny -- I can multi-task like mad at work or at home, but when it comes to studying, I absolutely need to focus on one thing at a time. Just studying. Studying and job searching, for example, don't mix. Study, study, study, and get it done and over with.  What an exciting life I'm leading right now. Lol


Almost RN Kate!!!  So close now!!!