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My mom's a nurse and here's what I can think of (from a nurse's offspring point of view).
My mom works 2-3 12 hour shifts a week, so she can do things on weekdays and gets days off when needed. She also works every other weekend and many holidays, about every other Christmas.
Pros- high demand job field with varying hours and types of patients. You can work with babies, mentally ill, elderly, the dying, the young, etc. You effect peoples lives. The money can be good depending on if you're working for an agency, clinic, or the shift you work.
Cons- Can be hard on emotions (my mom couldn't do intensive care for too many years). You get praise from patients and families but also the blame. There's not a lot of room for advance-maybe charge nurse. At the beginning, entry level positions might not be so great (ie nursing homes, which are very often understaffed).
GL! My mom stills likes going to work after being a nurse for 30 years!
The pros- scheduling- he works 6 (12 hour) days on, then has 8 days off. If he works extra, he gets great overtime; great benefits; nice coworkers; generally nice patients; the opportunity to take on multiple roles if he gets bored
The cons- days 5 and 6 of 6 working days get pretty tiring and days 7 and 8 of his days off get pretty boring; some of his patients (mostly elderly) don't understand the concept of a male nurse. They assume he's their doctor, then get pissed when he can't do doctor things; heavy lifting
I'm currently a dialysis nurse- before that, 3 years bedside med/surg nursing.
Pros- Flexibility in scheduling, decent money(that you work really hard for), patient interaction, making a difference in people's lives, opportunities for advancement, great coworkers, opportunities to help train new nurses, grateful patients
Cons- Short staffing, working every other weekend/major holidays, as a nurse you can/will do everyone's job (aid, housekeeper, secretary) but no one can do yours, ungrateful/demanding/entitled patients.
Nursing can be a great field. It's hard, but often rewarding. I got burned out in less than 3 years, but after changing direction and getting into dialysis, I now love my job. My advice if you do decide to pursue nursing is to get at least one year med/surg experience to develope your skills/knowledge and then find a specialty. There are a ton of different opportunities for nurses. I now work in an outpatient clinic and never have to work Sundays or Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, or Easter again. It's wonderful!
Good luck with your decision!!
I have been an RN in Acute Pediatrics for almost 3 years. I work part time night shift.
Pros: Flexibility. Longer shifts so more days off. Decent pay. Endless options on where to work. Challenging, ever changing field. Helping people doesn't suck.
Cons: You are not only the nurse but also the housekeeper, dietitian, physical therapist, maintenance person, secretary, and doctor. Or at least your patients will expect you to be. People you are helping can be down right nasty to you and you pretty much just have to take it. Making a mistake is not just an annoyance, it is terrifying because you might kill someone. High stress.
FWIW I love being a nurse. I cannot imagine doing anything else. All the crap you get from patients and doctors falls by the wayside when one of your patients or their families tells you they are so thankful you were their nurse.
Pros: You can do a LOT with a RN. My mom is a RN, she worked 2 weekends a month when we were growing up, then she started working more shifts as we got older and were in school more. Finally she switched her focus into clinical work, and now she is at the NIH working in regulatory, but before that she ran vaccine studies and traveled all over the world (Sweden, Mexico, Bangladesh.) She does have her MSN now but she was doing this type of work before she got it. So being a RN doesn't mean you only have to work in a hospital or doctor's office.
Cons: Nursing school is hard and intense. I just graduated from law school and my brother graduated from med school, and one of my good friends is in nursing school and she is way more overworked and stressed than either of us were. (and she's in a 2 year program, but it will result in her getting her master's.) So I'm not sure if it is something that I would do if I just wanted to "change careers," I would make sure you actually want to be a nurse.
I'm an emergency room RN. Working 12 hr shifts allows for more days off, but I am so tired at the end of one all I can do is eat, shower, and sleep. I like having the 3 or 4 days off though. If you don't like an area of nursing you can make a lateral transfer without losing pay or benefits. There is a schedule to fit everyone, but the cons to this is holidays, nights, weekends, etc. A straight day shift job is hard to find for a new nurse or even a seasoned nurse. The work is so much more harder than I imagined. The liability and stress can be through the roof. Also, the job market for nurses in my area is dried up. It may be different elsewhere but even 1 year ago there were jobs in every department open. Not now, but I think the market will get better eventually. That said, I like being a nurse but I want to move away from the hospital within the next 2 years.
if you are not sure you can handle the clinical/bedside part of it try getting your CNA certificate first. True, you wouldn't be giving meds and such, but you will find out if you can handle the 'yucky' part of nursing without spending time and cash for a degree you find out you aren't going to use.
If you are sure you like the hands on stuff, do get the RN. It will give you a broader job choice. If you are looking at a hospital or bedside position, most places I've been in do not really give that big a difference in payscale between AD and BSN nurses.
Pro-most have covered it already. Be prepared that alot of places will want you to start out on night shifts. Day shifts tend to be at a premium. Many larger facilities have staffing plans that are flexible concerning weekdays vs weekend scheduling.
Cons- again, most have already covered this. Bedside can be physically challenging at times. You are exposed to alot of workplace hazards.
There are so many different areas in nursing you can go into. It's very broad.
I also agree with pp.
School was extremely difficult and time consuming, so be prepared to put your life on hold for a little while! Now that it's behind me, I wouldn't trade my degree for anything. I always wanted to be a nurse and I'm so happy to finally be working. Right now the field is being hit pretty hard by the economy slump (at least in my state), so I've had to start out in home care instead of a hospital. I'm really enjoying it even though it's not my first choice! For me, the pros are: it's rewarding, it's always changing, I have a choice of TONS of different specialties, and good benefits (most of the time). Cons: the hours can suck depending on where you work, and school.
pro: emotionally satisfying
con: can be very emotionally draining too, its hard not to put all of yourself into your patients, even when you clock out.
scheduling- most places are going to 3-12s or 7 on/off 12s. These are pretty tiring when you work them, but then you get a built in vacation.
Diversity-if you are willing to continue your education. You can work on the floor, in a unit, in a clinic, in research, as a teacher, as a public educator, etc.
Your health administration job might give you a heads up. I know our local university has a straight MSN program for people who already have a bachelors degree, but not in nursing.
Pay is ok. Travel pay is great (but you would be away from your family.)
You can get cancelled alot related to irradic patient census.
Hope this helps.
I'm a labor & delivery nurse. I love it, I love being involved with people on one of the most memorable days of their lives. Everyone is usually very happy and grateful, although there is a lot of pain management that goes on as well of course! I plan to go back to grad school and become a nurse-midwife in 2 years. I can't imagine a better career.
I echo the pros and cons above. It's not for everyone. Maybe volunteering in a hospital would be a good way to know if you wanted to be a nurse or not (on an actual patient unit, not at the gift shop or front desk).
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