How I Became A Nurse

As many of you may know, I recently took a position in labor and delivery. I thought it would be my saving grace, the one nursing job that I could actually love.

But sadly, I have found that the answer is still a resounding no.

I just don’t feel like nursing is me. I panic every time I go into work, thinking of everything that could go wrong; I feel like a fraud in scrubs, a kid playing doctor with my stethoscope. In short, as my idol Sue Monk Kidd, a former nurse-turned-writer put it, “I just don’t feel like a nurse inside.”

Although the tale of my woe-is-me-for-choosing-nursing story is much too long for this blog post, the long story short is that I never wanted to be a nurse. Swore up and down, left and right that I would never enter that god-forsaken profession.

And then I discovered midwifery. Babies. The miracle of birth. The fascination I held for seeing a pregnant woman. And I thought I’d give it a try. But to be a midwife, you have to first become a nurse.

Nursing students don’t do their obstetrical rotation until 3 years into the 4-year program. By the time I finished it, job-shadowed a midwife, and worked in OB, I decided midwifery was not for me. I wanted a family life without crazy hours, I didn’t want that kind of responsibility, and frankly, the job outlook was not promising.

By that point, I had a year of nursing school left. I agonized over if I should switch my major. I wanted to pursue something with writing, but of course, everyone under the sun argued with me, telling me I would be ridiculous to give up a “real” job for writing. My stubborn, perfectionist side didn’t want to waste 3 years of education, and the prestigious side of working in the medical field. I talked to advisors, met with the Dean of Nursing, mapped out a different strategy to allow me to double major in Health Sciences and Professional and Technical Writing.

And then I found out I was pregnant.

How could I give up a “guaranteed” job now? Waste 3 years of a degree that would allow me, without a doubt, to care for my baby, no matter what? What could writing and a useless health degree give me?

I couldn’t. I wanted to be that strong mom, the mom who could support my family. I could do this.

So I finished school, and have hated working as a nurse ever since.  I have so much guilt about my feelings. What is wrong with being a nurse? It’s a noble job, helping people, and now helping bring life into the world. It offers flexible hours and a good wage.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s the feeling that at any moment, someone under my watch could die. It’s the knowing I have to be awake from 7 pm to 7:30 am and come home to my kids the next day. It’s the inability to ever plan anything ever, because you don’t know your schedule or if you will get called into work. It’s blood and poop and pain and vomit.

I want to let it go, I really do.

But I just don’t know how.

Is it wrong to just simply not like a job? With so many people hurting for jobs and literally struggling to put food on the table, aren’t I the most selfish brat for even writing these words?

I feel like a crazy person. I am so sick of thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it. I even confessed all this to a new hairdresser I went to recently. She whirled my chair around and looked at me through my wet bangs folded over my head, cousin-It style.

“Do you really think God doesn’t want you to be happy?” she demanded. “Do you?”

My eyes filled with tears as I stammered, trying to explain that that wasn’t it.

She waved my excuses away with her scissors still in hand.

“God loves you so much,” she said. “He wants you to be happy. Thinking otherwise is getting tricked. Don’t get tricked.”

Sigh.

So, prophetic hairdressers aside, I want to know–how many of you out there really love your jobs? How many of you really feel you have a “calling” in life? Do you feel passion in your life for a job?

I am always jealous of those types, because I used to be one, and I now, I just feel like I am floundering and drifting along without a purpose…

Comments

  1. As you know I am a full time nanny. I love it. yes kids are bratty, challenging, and all in all give me a hard time for the first 3 months of sitting them. But I love helping out the parents, seeing kids learn, and I am fully happy and content with myself doing it. My degree is not in early childhood education, I actually switched from being an art teacher to the business school, thinking to myself I was too smart to be a teacher, but God shoved it in my face after I graduated and I couldn’t resist. I know it’s God plan for me, and it’s what I was called to do. I hope you find that. Whether it’s a nurse, writing, or maybe you have found it already? Being a mom? And a job is just something you have to do to survive.

  2. ahhh….i can so relate here, chaunie. i ended up quitting my dream job two months ago to start work today as a student-teaching intern. i took a big pay cut, and gave up a pretty prestigious job to go be an intern. an INTERN! i think there comes a point in your life where you have to find something that you really, really love to do-something that makes you happy to get out of bed- or else you’re wasting your time. now that i have a baby, my time is too precious to waste doing something i didn’t love……

    hugs :)

  3. Sending many hugs!

    This is one of my biggest concerns with when will finally be practicing medicine. I feel like having my son has totally changed my gunner, rise to the top at almost all costs, attitude and some days I don’t even know if what I am doing is really what I want to do with my life. I just have to pray that God orders my steps and I wouldn’t be here in life if it wasn’t meant for me. I think that everything happens for a reason, but also I keep hearing my pastor say that “faith without works is dead”. We can have the faith that God will show us what our passion is, but we also have to take the big, uncertain, step to get there. I saw a quote a few weeks ago “If you don’t like where you are then change it. You are not a tree.” LOL so simply and blunt but true. I think you should chase your passion. Even if it means part time nursing until you get your footing/a consistent income in writing. There are so many ways to make money, so don’t sell yourself short doing something you hate.

  4. Hello! I’ve been enjoying your blog for awhile now so thought I’d introduce myself. I started nursing school in 1999 as a naive 17 year-old. I chose nursing only because I couldn’t come up with anything else to do and wanted to make sure I could get a good job when I graduated, which I did in 2003. I started out working night shift on a surgical unit which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was horrible. I went from there to a pediatrician’s office which was less stressful but I ended up working many more hours for much less pay. I now work as a clinical auditor for a large health insurance company which has not been perfect, but definitely better than anything else I’ve done. I’ve always felt out of place in the nursing world too – seems like everyone else knew since they were practically a baby that they wanted to be a nurse – definitely not me!…Sorry for rambling but I hope you can find some encouragement in knowing that you are not alone in your lack-of-love for the nursing profession and hope that, like me, you can find a job that you at least don’t dread going to everyday!

  5. Wow. This is me! I hate to admit that I do not like being a nurse. Nursing is not me. I take is as a job and that only. I clock in and clock out. I hate that I feel this way but it is what it is. I too, have intense anxiety and emotion when I arrive at work. Just knowing that I am responsible for a life is scary. Hopefully this year I will figure out what it is that I should be doing.

  6. Wendy @ mama one to three says:

    It is very funny/odd because I was thinking of you last night — even though we have just “met” — as I watched a show on lifetime that takes place in the labor and delivery unit of a hospital. The nurses were so impressive, outstanding and kind– reminded me of my own experiences with l&d nurses– and I thought that I wanted to tell you how in awe I am of what you are able to do. I think you speak several truths though– we have to follow our heart and our happiness; it is important to be grateful esp in this economy for a good job; the universe needs us to fulfill our dreams. Perhaps you have fulfilled your role as a nurse and should move on to other goals? Be well.

  7. Wow! Your story is very similar to mine. I chose nursing because I wanted to be a midwife. Yeah, a few years of labor and delivery cured that. I actually enjoy teaching clinical but I don’t love clinical practice. Nursing isn’t for everyone. I’ve been in it for almost 20 years and wish I had done something else long ago.

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  1. [...] now, you’re all probably a little sick of my job melodrama. There’s been post about me not really liking nursing, questions if I should quit my job, and dreams about becoming a [...]

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