Considered working as a Registered Nurse? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.
Being a registered nurse is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging careers out there. I happen to be a registered nurse with 15 years experience. I earned a BSN after earning an associates degree from a community college. I got into nursing because I always had an interest in healthcare and when I was finishing community college, a college counselor told me about a special minority nurse scholarship program that pay for a BSN. When I heard that, I signed up and my education was paid for. Honestly, I would not do anything differently because I had a wonderful experience in college. I consider myself lucky because many colleagues are still struggling with college loan debt, but I do not have that problem.
Being a Hispanic woman has granted me numerous opportunities because it has allowed me to apply for minority scholarships which paid for my college education. Moreover, being Hispanic and having the ability to speak both English and Spanish has given me priority in certain areas because when I used to live in California, many employers required nurses to be bilingual (English/Spanish) due to the Hispanic population in the region. I have never actually encountered any discrimination due to my race or gender, but I have heard stories regarding this issue. If a nurse were to encounter discrimination they should find another job and hire an attorney.
I became a registered nurse right out of college and started working in nursing homes. Since I work in nursing homes, my experiences are different from the RNs that work in hospitals. On a typical day, I pretty much work as a supervisor meaning that I oversee everyone, I deal with staffing issues, I call the pharmacy, I interact with family members, and sometimes I work the floor. A common misconception many people have is that I'm like a doctor’s assistant, which is not really the case. I do follow his orders, but I have my own agenda and I manage most of the things that happen in the facility because the doctors only visit at certain times of the day. As an RN supervisor, the position may pay around 60K-100K depending the company. I think it's a pretty good salary and I'm satisfied with it.
My job is not very stressful, but it can get to me at times. I always maintain a healthy work-life balance by exercising, reading, and taking good care of myself. I always stay focused and strive to improve each day. As a nurse, I get very little vacation time, so I get a couple of days or so here and there, but I would like to get a couple of weeks off during the year so that I can have more time to travel.
On a good day, I hear positive feedback from family members that visit the facility when they see that their loved ones are happy and healthy. On a bad day, there are issues with the staff like people being written up or perhaps fired. I do not like to discipline staff members because it makes me feel bad. I understand that it must be done in certain situations, but it is not pleasant for anyone. One of the most unusual experiences I have had was when there was a power outage and no one was really prepared for it. We had to take some emergency measures to keep everything running and it was just mishap after mishap. Nothing seemed to work right and we had to figure out some way to keep everything together.
The most rewarding experience I have had as a nurse was when I began my career. A patient was having a heart attack and I actually rescued and helped him reach a stable condition until I was able to have him sent to the hospital. Saving a life is the most rewarding thing about this field, in my opinion. Saving people does move my heart because they have a second chance and hopefully good health, which is one of the greatest gifts you can have. The most challenging moment was when I had to fire two employees for some misconduct involving the theft of some medication; I would prefer to forget about the entire incident.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my job satisfaction as a seven because I enjoy what I do for a living and I like the patients and the facility, but it can be difficult to deal with some of the staffing issues that arise everyday. In order to increase my rating, I would have to say that some employees should learn better “people skills”. Being a supervisor did not come naturally because I had to learn the hard way to see what was effective in terms of managing people. I have attended seminars and read books to learn how to be a better supervisor which has helped me tremendously. Managing people is a skill that must be learned in the field an no amount of schooling can really prepare a person for what it is like in the real world. I think nursing schools should emphasize communications skills to lower the amount of employee disputes.
To get hired in this field, I would say that having a college education is essential because your opportunities will be limited if you do not earn at least a BSN. You will also need good communications skills and patience to be able to successfully manage relationships amongst colleagues, patients, and doctors. I would tell a friend considering this field of work to get into only if they are truly believe that they will like it. Some people get into the field and realize that they do not like it at all and leave in a very short period of time. I would recommend doing an internship or volunteering at a nursing home or hospital first.
If I could write my own ticket, I would probably choose to earn a Masters degree and I would move to healthcare administration and work in a large hospital. I would hopefully earn more money and get a chance to travel more often.
By: Erich Lagasse