Landing that first hospital job is typically the ideal outcome for most nursing students. Bedside nursing gives new nurses exposure to a wide variety of patients, diseases, skills, and knowledge. Hospital nursing experience is truly invaluable.
Scheduling factors can also play a role in choosing a hospital job. I liked the idea of working 12-hour shifts and only having to work 2-3 days per week. After becoming a mom, working night shifts and weekends allowed me to earn an income without having to worry about childcare.
After a few years of working long shifts in a high-stress environment, I began to realize a long-term hospital career wasn’t for me. It wasn’t going to give me the work/life balance that I wanted and needed.
While I agree 100% that having a foundation of hospital experience is invaluable, exclusively working in a hospital is not the only way or the best way to use your nursing degree.
I was so exhausted from working that I barely even enjoyed my days off. And I didn’t want to worry about missing another birthday, holiday, sports practice or game, school event, or other family event because I was at work. I didn’t want to stress about finding childcare, and I didn’t want to worry if my babysitter was going to be reliable.
After a few months of contemplating this change, I finally decided to take a leap of faith and submit my two weeks notice. Making that decision was emotional. I felt guilt, embarrassment, and regret. I felt like I wasn’t a “real nurse” anymore. Unfortunately, there is an unspoken rule that exists for nurses.
It is that nurses that work outside of the hospital are not “real nurses.”
I knew this stigma wasn’t true. But it was hard to walk away from something that was such a big part of my identity. I reminded myself of the bigger reward that I was gaining by leaving bedside nursing. And I reflected on the many nurses I knew that have fulfilling careers outside of the hospital.
I realized that my knowledge and skills will not be lost forever by making this career shift. And I can stay enrolled in continuing education classes, obtain certifications, and further my education with an advanced degree to keep up with the ever-changing world of nursing. I am excited about the possibilities in my future.