During my nursing career, I worked in a small rural hospital and at a large academic hospital. I cared for patients in their homes, in hospitals, and in long-term care centers, and worked with both children and adults. For years, I worked on a medical-surgical unit, where I dealt with patients with diabetes, heart disease, lung conditions, kidney failure, gastrointestinal problems, cancer, and just about every other conceivable malady. Then I transferred to transplant nursing, where I cared for patients (and donors) before and after kidney, liver, and pancreas transplants. In every job, I performed hands-on care, educated patients and families, and coordinated care with a multitude of health professionals. I was busy -- but never bored!
Choose Your Focus
Many people still picture hospital or clinic nurses when they hear the word "nurse," but today's nurses work in a huge variety of settings and specialties. Some are computer and technology experts. Others are managers, executives, and administrators. Still others are teachers, entrepreneurs, or writers. Nurses work in hospitals, clinics, schools, prisons, community centers and private homes. Some spend their careers with a single employer, while travel nurses work in multiple locations across the country (or around the world!), often in the course in a single year. Some nurses work full-time; others work part-time. Almost all nurses adapt their employment to fit their personal and professional goals, and for many, that means transitioning periodically to new nursing opportunities.
Nursing provides unlimited exposure to the world of healthcare, and as nurses work with patients and other medical professionals, they begin to identify their personal strengths and areas of interests. A nurse who enjoys patient teaching, for instance, may transition to a career as a diabetes educator or childbirth educator. Eventually, she may decide to work in community health, or move into nursing education. (Demand for nurse faculty is particularly high right now.)
Additional education or specialized training
helps nurses prepare for new roles. Often, employers will pick up at
least a portion of the costs of additional training.
Scholarships and grants are available to help nurses develop new skills as well.
My career bears little resemblance to the stereotypical nursing career most people picture, but I'm still a nurse. Who knows where my career will take me next?