DEAR ABBY: The letter you printed on Aug. 30 from that nurse who wants to change careers after only one year could have been written by me. I became a nurse in 2000. While I loved the intellectual stimulation and fulfillment of being a skilled and compassionate nurse, dealing with the "other nurses and the environment" was an entirely different matter.
There's a saying in nursing that "nurses like to eat their young." While it doesn't seem logical that experienced nurses would sabotage younger ones, it does happen -- more frequently than you might think.
I finally decided to change careers after only five years in the field. But then, I live in a small town. If I still lived in the large city I moved from three years ago, I'd have simply changed employers or gone into a different type of nursing. Unfortunately, there are no such options here.
More and more nurses are opting for career changes, Abby. It's a shame, too, considering the nursing shortage in our country. Your advice to "Susan in St. Louis" was right on. Living where she does, she's bound to find something better suited for her than where she is now -- or maybe she should switch to a different department in the same hospital. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN VIRGINIA
DEAR BTDT: With the shortage of skilled nurses in this country, your departure from the field is everybody's loss. Until I read your letter, I had never heard the expression "nurses eat their young." But it was echoed by a surprising number of nurses who responded to that letter. Like you, they wanted to remind "Susan" that other opportunities are available in this specialized and important field. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Susan in St. Louis" has many ways she can use her nursing training. If she likes hospital work, among the specialties she might try are: obstetrics, pediatrics, intensive care and dialysis. If she doesn't like hospital work, there is school nursing, which includes teaching, screening for various problems like scoliosis, as well as first aid. There is also industrial nursing, where you work for a private company.
In addition, there is research, writing for journals, flight nursing, IV therapy, case management, holistic, forensic, home health, nurse-anesthetist, nurse-practitioner, and many other options. Once you become a nurse, the world is your oyster. I know of few other careers that offer so much variety. -- VETERAN NURSE OF 24 YEARS
DEAR ABBY: Please tell "Susan in St. Louis" that with just a little more training, she can use her skill as a nurse to help attorneys understand and read medical records. She will do the same job as a normal paralegal, but she'll be working mainly in medical malpractice and personal injury areas, reading medical records. -- LEGAL SECRETARY IN OHIO
DEAR ABBY: There are unlimited opportunities for that young woman to apply her nursing/medical education to other careers. Plenty of drug and medical companies would welcome someone with nurse's training and experience for positions in clinical testing protocols, data review, on-site visits, customer support and interaction with medical professionals.
Many years ago, I graduated with a high school biology/science teaching degree, only to find after one year of teaching that I hated it. I have used my education to do something I could have never imagined: I have been successfully consulting to domestic and international medical device companies for more than 20 years. -- CAROLANN IN LILBURN, GA.