This post is for all my nursing readers. I know some of you are struggling with your jobs, or nursing school because you e-mail me about it, usually saying, “I want to quit nursing!” “I want to drop out of nursing school!” “How did you do it?” “Was your family mad?” I understand your feelings because I was there once not that long ago.
I remember being in Europe in the summer, dreading going back to school. Each quarter the teachers would say something like, “Maybe geriatrics won’t be your thing, but next quarter we’ll do pediatrics. Eventually one will grab your heart and you’ll know which type of nurse you want to be.”
I never had one really grab at me, but I did love working with the babies. I was a nurse aid for 2.5 years on a postpartum unit. I loved my coworkers and swaddling and rocking those newborns was like a form of therapy! I truly loved that job.
*Stay tuned to the very bottom for the tips to keep your resume fresh while you take a “break” from saving lives.
My Background in Nursing & How it Led me to Travel
Because travel was my priority, I knew after one year of resume building, I wanted to travel nurse. I talked to some agencies and they all concluded that cardiac telemetry was the minimum amount of critical care to be able to get the majority of good jobs.
I worked in Charlotte, NC on a cardiac tele floor for a year. My resume was finally looking real! I quit that job, went to India for a few months, and came back to take my first (and last) travel nursing job. Because of meeting Ben, I went back to India.
when I took my first nursing job in NC, I met Britani! She was my travel buddy in the U.S.
The truth is, if I hadn’t met him, I would have taken another assignment. I had a great plan to work 3 months with overtime, then travel until I ran out of money (at least six months), then take another assignment. Repeat. I didn’t get very far down my path.
Do I miss nursing? Not really. I miss the money. I miss night shift. I miss the emergencies. I miss the stability and the days off. But the “nursing” part I don’t miss.
With my new life plan, giving massages and trying to get this website a popular source for travel to India, I still get those free days- just not the money, yet. On the bright side, I don’t argue with morbidly obese type two diabetics with heart failure about fried chicken and mac n’ cheese. (mmm, fried chicken!)
For those of you still in school, but hating it…
My advice is to finish school. I won’t ever e-mail my readers back and tell them to drop out.
After you graduate you HAVE to work for a year before you can take off traveling (if you are in the U.S.). It’s very difficult to get a hospital job if you don’t and you’ll end up in a nursing home or on a rehab or med/surg floor.
This is why you really should work as an aid during the school year and take advantage of your summers off to travel.
Really consider travel nursing. I would still be doing it if I hadn’t had the interesting experience I did in India. Travel nursing will fill your pockets with more money than you know what to do with and because contracts are up after 13 weeks, you can take time off as you want before you take another assignment.
a couple photos from my assignment in Washington
Don’t take as much time as you want though. No more than a year. After a year, you can’t get a travel job in the U.S. unless you’ve got quite a lot of experience under your belt. After a year of no work, you can still get a job as a nurse- just not as a traveller. It’s almost all travel nurse agencies policy in the U.S. and abroad (Middle East & Asia).
I happened to meet Ben on my first trip to India. It could have been different. I knew travel nursing was only until “something life-changing happened”, and luckily it happened on my first trip after quitting my first nursing job. It could have been the third or fourth… who knows?
As a nurse, you have amazing options for travel which is part of the reason I think you should 100% finish school. I didn’t love nursing, but I didn’t hate it. Working 3 months a year at a job I was “ok” with in order to travel the rest of the year was a sacrifice I was super happy to make. It wouldn’t have bothered me ONE BIT to keep doing travel nursing on and off while I saw the world. My girlfriends I met travel nursing are still doing so in Hawaii, Alaska, and California. They are living it up and take expensive trips all the budget knowing budget isn’t a huge concern. It’s an awesome career path if you’re not bummed out staring at the clock every 12 hour shift you work.
So, for those of you who want to quit your job but aren’t sure…
No reason to be miserable. My advice to you is to try travel nursing in the U.S. before you go off on an international adventure. It’s fun to move to another city. Because you’re a traveler you don’t have as much responsibility within the unit, and you won’t be in all that “nursing drama”. Most likely they won’t make you be charge nurse (unless you took my assignment in which case you would “tag team” charge nurse with other travelers & train the new travelers coming in. Scary!) You get in and out.
If it’s a good facility, they
usually should give the travelers a fairly easy set of patients since we aren’t trained more than a couple days (or in my case 1 day). You might find that the vibe of being a traveler suits you more and you might even start to like nursing. Who knows?
Use that opportunity to save up some money for your trip abroad. Three months flies by! Taking just one assignment gave me enough money that over a year later I still have some. Keep in mind I’m in India though not Paris.
For those who say, “But, I want to travel now!!”
If you’re sure, you’re sure. Go for it! Although leaving school isn’t ideal, it’s your call.
Ok, so you’ve quit- now what?
FYI, your paycheck is gone. I hope you’ve thought of this you crazy people! ;)
I’ve mentioned in a couple posts that I don’t see my degree as a waste. I see it as a back-up that helps me sleep at night. This is why I tell people not to drop out of school.
You guys have asked how people reacted. My friends were supporting. My bestie, who I was doing travel nursing with, of course was bummed I was leaving. She has since been traveling through California causing me envy with every mojito and concert photo she posts with all her new nursing friends! She’s having a killer time out there.
My family was/is worried. I mean no parents wants their kid to leave the career they helped them get.
I had a nice paying secure job. Our parents come from a generation where you don’t leave something like that. Our generation switches jobs every year almost and outside the U.S. there is less “loyalty” to your employee and more switching for “something better”. You have to follow your heart.
You can still get nursing jobs after being out of work for a while, just not your ideal job. We do lose skills and surely now, if someone went into an irregular rhythm and I needed to start a code or even titrate a drip, my heart would stop for a few seconds while I panicked and tried to remember everything.
There are some things you need to take care of so that your degree doesn’t become useless.
- Keep your primary license active. I only keep Ohio active. If you take another travel job, they will pay for your new licenses, so I didn’t keep my Washington or North Carolina.
- Make sure you have your address up to date with the nursing board. I have everything sent to my parent’s house in Ohio. They’ll send a reminder when you need to re-new.
- For Ohio, to keep it active, I have to pay money every two years. Keep this information written down and stored.
- To keep a license active, you have to follow your states’ rules on CEU’s. For Ohio, I have to do 24, one being specific.
- Keep your certifications active. When I was home in May, I had a class booked to renew my ACLS. That also gave me 8 CEU’s. Do the same with your BLS or whatever else you have. Having these active will help you get a job after some time off. It shows you take initiative and didn’t let your skills slide. Actually, in many cases you can’t even apply to a job without these active.
- If you can volunteer abroad, then you should at least once a month, It’s something you can put on your resume. It’d also be nice to bring up in an interview. I haven’t found a place in Goa, or maybe I haven’t tried hard enough.
- If you’ve had multiple jobs, you have to combine your retirement papers? 401k? I’m not quite sure. My parents helped me with this- well, their tax guy did!
- Lastly, even if you find yourself in Fiji when tax time rolls around, you still have to file taxes one last time if you let your income go. If you find a way to make money after that (blogging, massage etc) you
should file taxeshave to file taxes even if you don’t live in America! Fuck.
Did I go too meme crazy!? Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram & bloglovin‘.