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Friday, September 17, 2010

Identity Crisis

Reyna's thoughts on how her nursing career has changed in recent years, really hit home.  I graduated from nursing school in 1995.

I've struggled with my own nursing career ever since the big D moved in. I used to be a strong, confident nurse at the bedside.  After D came brain turned to mush.  I was still able to go through the motions, but it felt like I just couldn't focus as intently anymore.  Maybe it was just the sleepless nights?  The realization of how fragile life is?  The constant worry?

I don't know.

Childcare was an issue.  Mr. Rose works 10 hour days, plus an hour commute each way. Bedside nursing in our area offers 12 hour shifts exclusively, plus at least a 45 minute commute each way.  Do the math however you want.  There's a law that kids can't be in childcare longer than 10 hours a day...there's just no way we could both work outside the home, in our respective careers, AND have time together on the weekends (which is important to us, because going to church together is a top priority for this family.)

Let alone the expense of childcare for 3 children.
Or Diabetes.
Or Celiac.

Something had to give.

I didn't want to stop working altogether and risk having my nursing license become inactive.  As a Helicopter Mechanic for the state, Mr. Rose is our primary provider....his job provides our bread and butter -- insurance.


Can I be completely candid here?  I never wanted to be a full-time SAHM.  I love my kids.  I love my husband.  I love my family.  But I chose a profession that would allow me the flexibility of working outside the home 3 days week.  I felt like it would be the ideal balance.  Go to work 3 days a week (for 12 hour shifts -- these days, I'd prefer 8 hour shifts, but that's impossible to find in my area) and be home for 4 days.

I guess it all sounded fine and dandy...until life got in the way.

So I work from home.  Yes.  As a R.N.  I work 3 evenings a week, answering after hour calls for pediatric practices all over the state.  The pay is horrible compared to industry standard, but I don't have to commute.  It's nice being able to kiss my girls goodnight between calls and to wear my PJ's to work.  Just recently the girls and I spent half our summer with my mom in Montana and I was able to work from there.

For a long time, I kept plotting how I was going to get out of the office and back to the bedside.  Honestly, I have to admit that, sometimes, I'd only put half my heart into the job.  I hated the feeling that I was losing more and more of myself every day.  I was meant to be a bedside nurse.  I've wrestled with this.  Feeling out of place.  Feeling as if all that hard work to get my education and build a foundation to my career has been tossed to the wind.

But ya know what?

In reality, my assessment skills have sharpened significantly.  It's much easier to assess a patient when you can lay eyes on them....I'm learning to listen for key phrases, pay attention to background noise, and focus on specific symptoms.  I've learned how to describe symptoms of trouble in a way that helps me convey my message efficiently.  I am able to stay calm when communicating with worried parents, advocate for children on a larger scale, and encourage people to follow their parental instincts (which, by the way, I believe is a very powerful tool) .  I've talked with parents who have lost health insurance and don't know how to help their sick children.  I've listened to mothers cry because they don't know what else to do in the middle of the night.  I've assisted new mothers with breastfeeding when they feel like giving up. 

And, yes, I've taken a (more than) fair share of ridiculous calls in the middle of the night.  But I took care of ridiculous ER patients too, so whatever....

Yeah.  I'm just a R.N. who talks on the phone.

This scenario works for us right now.  As the days pass, I'm realizing more and more what a blessing this position has been for our family.  While I resented it before, I'm learning that it's exactly what we need right now.

Of course God knew all this 3 or 4 years ago when He dropped it in my lap just before Tink was due.  I've argued with Him about this plan quite a bit.  It's not what **I** wanted to be doing.  I wanted my scrubs very own Pyxis access code....

He wins.

You know what?  Bedside nursing will always be there.

Who knows what will be around the next corner for this R.N.

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  1. I'm glad you found something to work for your family. Interesting topic for me, because although I had another career before kids, I was *just* about to start my pre-req's for nursing school before Adam got diagnosed. Not sure what will happen now, but I do have a passion for helping others, so I hope I will be able to do it someday. :)

  2. Ahhh MUSIC to my EARS "PYXIS" LOL. We used that for a few years before I resigned from the ICU. I hear you. I feel you. I respect you. It is a tough thing sometimes to put our careers on the back burner while doing the right thing by the family. I miss the bedside too...or heck a clinic...something that I need to "pull myself together" for daily. I know I am one of the lucky ones. So I don't want to sound like I am complaining at all. I just sometimes wish I felt like I was "doing more". I don't know if that makes sense.

    BTW, I bet your assessment skills rock. I cannot even imagine doing your job over the phone. Also, very cool on being able to work from your mom's house when you were on vacation.

  3. It takes a special lady to be a nurse... wherever she practices :)

  4. If you like, I will go out and have a really long night with my helicopter buddy. Then you can practice some I.V. sticks in the morning.
    You are a great nurse, always have been and always will be.

  5. I am so with you Wendy on all of this! I am also very grateful for this job and the way it allows me to still be an RN, but to also spend as much time as I can with my family. I have really learned to same things as you over the years too like the importance of spot on assessment skills, asking the right questions, and explaining things so that they are clear, over the telephone. 99.9% of the time people are so happy to be getting our advice and help and are so grateful, and that makes ME so grateful to be given the opportunity to help them. We may not be changing the world, but we really are making it a better place for a few minutes for those anxious people when they call. One of the major reasons I chose to become a nurse! :)

  6. All of it will be right where you left it. The day will come again when you will wish for the feelings of today. You do an excellent in the nursing job that you have now. The other will always be waiting.

  7. There are some things that just never disappear on us. Career is one of them. It'll always be there when you're ready to go back. Until then, enjoy the freedom to wear pjs and tuck your children into bed at night.

    Big hugs, Wendy! It's amazing what we're willing to sacrifice for our children sometimes!

  8. My dear you are NOT "just a R.N. who talks on the phone." Your job is an important one. Those parents and those docs need you. And so does your family. And I know you well enough to know that you're good at what you do. Give yourself more credit!

    It may not be your dream job, but some day, you won't have any regrets. You will be grateful for this time that you have with your family.

  9. Your job is important. I can't count how many times I called the after hours nurse for one of the girls (before D) only to have a crude voice on the other end who seemed annoyed that I bothered her.

    You are blessed you can be there for your family and those patients. Plus you get to help your family out financially. That is something I struggle with. I want to help out financially but realistically there is no way I could go back to work. I would need a job similar to yours where I could work from home and have the flexibility that you do. Thing is, I don't have a nursing degree so I don't see that in my future.

    God is giving you a way to do your job (even though not always ideal in your eyes) and be there for your family. That is a huge blessing.


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While I'm happy to share our experiences with what works, and what doesn't work, for the management of Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease in our house, please do not mistake anything you read here for medical advice. Decisions regarding your/your child's health care should be made only with the assistance of your medical care team. Use any information from this blog at your own risk.