Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

DEAR ABBY: I love your column and no-nonsense advice. I guess what I want is for you to tell me it is OK to change careers.

I am a registered nurse who graduated from nursing school a year ago and hates her job. I am getting ready to change careers. It will cost me money, but I feel the payoff in time and peace of mind is worth it.

What do I say to people who are going to criticize me for it? Yes, I know it seems crazy to have spent four years getting a degree and not use it, but I really don't like nursing. The problem is mainly the other nurses and the environment, not my patients. Again, thanks for all you do. You do make a difference. -- SUSAN IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR SUSAN: Whoa, not so fast! If you were unhappy in your career, you would get no argument from me about changing it. However, before you make a final decision about leaving nursing, I urge you to consider that there is more than one way to practice the profession.

Among them is private duty nursing. Or getting a job as a nurse with a cruise line. Or becoming a traveling nurse. (Google "Travel nurses.") Agencies offer opportunities to travel and work anywhere in the 50 states. Some provide housing, meals allowance, continuing education courses and signing bonuses.

It may be possible to use the training you worked so hard to attain and not have to deal with the "other nurses" and the "environment." Please think it over and check out nursing registries in your state before you make your final decision. You may be pleasantly surprised.

DEAR ABBY: The man of my dreams, whom I have been with for seven years, has started cutting himself. I feel like I am losing my grip on reality, since in the past he has always talked to me when he had a problem. He is on anti-depressants, but they seem not to be working.

What can I do to help him see that he can talk to me, and this is not something he needs to continue? He is a quiet person, so no one knows about this -- just me and his daughters. Please help me. I am scared that one day I will come home and he will be dead. -- CRAZY WITH WORRY, HAWKINSVILLE, GA.

DEAR CRAZY WITH WORRY: It is far more important that the man of your dreams start talking to a mental health professional than it is that he confide in you right now. When people are so depressed that they start cutting, it is an indication that they need an intervention that's beyond the ability of a friend with a willing ear.

The place to start is to discuss this with the doctor who is giving the man of your dreams those anti-depressants. I urge you to see that it is done now, because he could seriously hurt himself, or worse.

DEAR ABBY: My brother is 16, just one year younger than I am, but he's doing some risky things that have me worried. One of the risks he is taking is against the law -- he's drinking alcohol. I told him not to, but as a teenage boy, he thinks listening to his older sister is not cool.

I can't tell my parents because then I'd be a snitch and a tattle-tale. What can I do? -- WAVERING IN WICHITA, KAN.

DEAR WAVERING: Some secrets are meant to be kept, others are better broken. Drinking and drugs fall into the latter category. Tell your parents what is going on before your brother gets into serious trouble, and ask them to keep what you told them confidential. Once they have been made aware of your brother's drinking, "catching" him while he's inebriated won't be difficult.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600

More like Dear Abby