Finding the “Right” Nursing Job

Many new nursing school graduates head out into the world trying to find their “perfect job.”  Some graduates know exactly what they’re looking for, and others need to test the waters and try a few things on.  They may luck into that “perfect job” right off the bat, or they may have to work up to it, especially if it’s a critical care specialty.  One of the benefits of choosing a nursing career is that there are so many different specialties available.  Operating room, labor and delivery, neonatal, pediatrics, intensive care, emergency care, doctor’s office, long term care, school nurse, infection control, and too many others for me to list.

I knew from the beginning when I went back to school for my nursing degree that I wanted to be an Emergency Department nurse.  What I didn’t know was that in addition to finding the right specialty, it’s also incredibly important to find the right setting.  I thought I wanted to be in the fast-paced, overworked, “elite” world of a certified Level 1 Trauma Center Emergency Department.  I was overjoyed to nab the position I’d been dreaming about, and it was a letdown to find that it wasn’t everything I’d envisioned.  It felt like a failure, or at least like giving up, to consider moving on.  I’m glad I did, because I found an ED with the right pace to be a good fit for me.

There are many components to the “Right Job” for any given person in any given industry, things like management style, work environment, flexibility, salary.  I changed jobs frequently when I was in Information Technology, working out what kind of computer skills and applications I had an affinity for, and then finding the right work environment for me.  When I finally found it, I was there for over 10 years, and only left because I had realized I wanted to be a nurse.

One of my favorite clinical instructors told us that it was important to have other nurse friends who would tell us when the job was turning us into unpleasant people.  She said that was when we would know to move on and try something different – a new specialty, or just a new environment.  Staying in a job that eats at us is one of the most unhealthy things we can do.  Finding the “right” one is worth the effort.

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File under: Don’t Tempt the Universe

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After I informed the Universe that I would not be seeking a mate, as I was done with the whole romance business, the Universe decided that it was time to demonstrate that I was not, in fact, in charge.

The Mister showed up as 2013 was winding down, and moved in with us in the spring, after Munchkin and the Menagerie approved.  He’s got his own Cutie kiddo who is 10 going on 30, and an absolute delight.  We get to see her most weekends.  Things moved really fast, but when something’s right you just know.  Our relationship is different in almost every way than anything I’ve had before, and it’s great.

The wedding will be in July, and I’m starting to get nervous about getting everything together.  I know at the end of the day if I’m His Missus, it’s all good.  It’s still a little nerve wracking.  I swore I wasn’t going to do this again.  (So did he.)  Guess that’s what we get for tempting the Universe.

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New Year Update

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I couldn’t believe when I checked on my blog that it has been almost a year since I wrote anything.  It looks to me like my blog needs some cleaning up, a fresh look, and a new start.

Last I wrote, I had just accepted a new job in the Emergency Department at my county hospital.  It’s a Level 1 Trauma Center and I was completely excited to have the opportunity, as it had been my dream job from the first time I thought about going into nursing.  Funny how our dreams end up not being quite as shiny when we finally get them.  I could tell about 6 months into the job that I wouldn’t be staying there long term.  It just wasn’t a fit for me.  I love emergency medicine, but the particular challenges in that environment proved to be more than I was prepared for.  While I managed to finish my Bachelors’ program (Summa Cum Laude), I knew that I wouldn’t be able to start a Masters’ program working the pace I was there.  Last fall, I started looking around and talking to other hospitals, and ended up being hired into the Emergency Department of the community hospital just down the road.  (2.1 miles, to be exact.)

The new gig is a great fit for me.  The pace is brisk but not overwhelming, and everyone so far has been a great team player and helped me fit in.  I’m pleasantly tired at the end of a shift there, instead of being so ragged out I can barely stand.  The pace is different in a good way.  I like the company and there are things about ED that are the same no matter where you are.

The pace and improved energy levels are really important, as I decided to go back to school this fall for my Masters’ degree so I can become a Nurse Practitioner.  My application to UTA will be final as soon as I get my official transcripts from TCC and Tech in and forward them to the graduate admissions office.  I had thought I wouldn’t apply to a graduate program until I’d worked at least three years as a nurse, but a friend pointed out that by the time I’m in clinical, I’ll have at least that much time under my belt, and some of it in one of the fastest paced ED’s in the area.  So watch out, world… I’ll be a student again come September.

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Trauma Junkie

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January and February were very busy months.  On a whim, I applied to the Emergency Department of my local County hospital.  I had applied after graduation for their new grad residency, but while they said they were impressed with me the available slots went to people who were already working there as techs and paramedics.  I honestly didn’t think I had gained enough experience to get hired, and if I did I expected the process to take a couple of months.  Little did I know that 8 days later I’d have an official offer in hand.  Apparently I’d made more of an impression than I’d thought, as one of the nurses interviewing me not only remembered me, but has repeatedly expressed how happy she is that I returned.

I had intended to stay at my first job longer, but once I got into the work there I found that I am just not happy with a patient population where I’ll have the same patients for weeks and months on end.  Many nurses are happiest there, where they can build rapport with the patients and their families and be there as the progress is made back toward home, or to mourn with them when it’s not going to work out that way.  I’m glad there are nurses that love that environment.  I joke that I’m a “treat ‘em and street ‘em” kinda girl.  But ultimately it’s true.  I really love the faster (and many times crazy) pace of the ER with a different 20+ patients a shift.  I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity my first hospital gave me, and I’ll be staying on to work a few shifts a month there so I can help out when they have staffing issues.

I am very fortunate that my new hospital has an extensive training program for nurses new to ER.  I regretted missing out on the new grad residency, but I think this program with its extended preceptor-ship is also excellent.  I’ve been there a little over a month now, and won’t be “on my own” until mid May.  It’s thrilling and scary and I’m loving it.  I don’t feel as though I truly have a “handle” on things yet, so I’m really glad I have several more weeks with a preceptor.  I get to switch to nights next week, which will be wonderful.  Though I like having a “normal” schedule so I can more easily do things with my kid and new guy, it’s like swimming against the current for me.  I’m absolutely a night shift nurse, and I can’t wait to get back to it.

In related news, I am one research paper away from completing my Bachelors’ program.  I will get to add more letters behind my name.  RN-BSN is the designation for registered nurses with a BSN.  It also means that I get to take a few years away from school and focus on becoming the best ER nurse I can before I take that experience and head off for my Doctorate in Nursing Practice so I can become a Nurse Practitioner.  I decided to go ahead and drive to Lubbock in May for the commencement, after a friend on Facebook reminded me that it was the only place I’d be able to ever get the picture of walking the stage and getting my diploma.  My parents have waited a long time to get to see me walk for a bachelors’ degree, so it will be worth the trek.

It’s amazing to look back at my posts over the last several years and see where my life has led.  I’ve spent so many years following paths that weren’t the best for me, and it’s so completely different when I stopped and followed my heart.  I am truly happy for the first time in a very long time.  I am in my dream job.  While my kiddo will always have some chronic health issues, they aren’t keeping her from being an athlete, musician, and honors student.  I have met an awesome guy who thinks I’m fantastic.  I have an incredible group of friends and family who I love dearly and have been a support network for me like none other.  All the other little complaints I have are truly minor and most are being resolved.  Life is good, and I am blessed.

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On Expectations

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So after my last post, someone asked me what expectations I had dropped that resulted in the Universe smiling on me.  I hadn’t realized that the way I wrote that sentence had made it sound like I had lowered my standards.  Far from it.

I have a dear friend who constantly reminds me that expectations decrease joy.  Not only am I setting myself up for disappointment if I create expectations (most especially if they remain unvoiced) of life and the people in it, I am limiting my experience by those expectations.  When I let go of the expectations, it allows the Universe to surprise me and give me exactly what I needed, even if it isn’t exactly what I thought I wanted.  It’s a lesson that bears repeating, because I frequently forget.

Dropping expectations is not the same as lowering standards.  Lowering standards usually means accepting behaviour or treatment that is unhealthy.  I’ve had enough lessons in my life about the pain of lowering standards.  I truly hope I’ve learned that one for good.  Dropping the expectations just allows more happiness, and more wonderful surprises, in life.

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How Time Flies…

London time - canon t2iWell, I looked up and it’s December.  I couldn’t believe the last post I made was in May.  So here’s a post to close out the year, since I have plans for New Year’s Eve, and probably won’t be writing again until after the new year.

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Loving the outside

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As my friends will tell you, I have always had a disdain for yard work.  My frequent quote was “I hate Outside” from Logan’s Run.  Between allergies and an intolerance for heat I’ve avoided yard work as much as humanly possible.  While I was working and going to school full time, I was able to justify hiring my yard work done.  Now that I have more free time than extra money, I’ve decided that it’s just time for me to learn to like it, and maybe even learn to love it.  So this morning I went out with the goal of getting my front yard at least presentable and non-citation-able. Continue reading

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