All of my jobs have been in healthcare. When I was 17, a senior in high school, I got my first job working in Central Supply at the local hospital. While I was in nursing school, I worked weekends as a nurse’s aide. After I graduated, my first nursing job was at the county hospital in the sick baby nursery. I was 20 when I became a Registered Nurse (back in the late 70’s) and I had way too much responsibility for someone that young!
My next job was in the operating room. I have always like studying the human body, so this was fascinating. I was on the evening shift, and if we didn’t have a case, we would sit around smoking in the small lounge. I was a circulating nurse, and was responsible for sending anything removed from the patient to the lab. The most memorable specimen was an entire leg.
Then I had my second baby, and stayed home for 16 years, giving birth a total of seven times. Became an earth mother, so to speak – homeschooling, gardening, breadmaking. That, of course, was a more than full time job! I got into religion. But that’s another story.
When my youngest was about four, around 2000, I got a job in day surgery with some time spent in nursery and postpartum, after a short correspondence course to reactivate my nursing license. I thought this was what I wanted to do after all my personal experience, but found that it really wasn’t a good fit after all.
After about a year of that, I had an opportunity to work in hospice, which at first scared me, because I hadn’t really been around death. But I went for it, and in the course of time became very passionate about it, and it helped me with my own PDA (personal death awareness). I worked for three companies in the eight years I was in hospice, at one point in management. But the last year of working in hospice, I was driving 100 miles a day to see patients, working hours that were too long, and got burned out.
At this point, I decided I wanted a job where I just went to work someplace, but I didn’t want to go back to bedside nursing, because really, I didn’t want to have to deal with all the involvement with personal body fluids and life and death situations. I applied for and was hired as an acute care case manager in the same hospital where I had my first job, and have continued in this field for the last 11 years.
The most fulfillment from a job was in hospice, caring for people in the last stage of life, as well as their families. It could also be emotionally draining. When I started in hospital case management, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. It’s important to me to be able to make a difference in someone’s life, and usually that happens in a day’s work, although there are days when I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing. I’ve quit twice, but returned. After this past year with two travel assignments, I feel that I’ve come to a place of being happy in this line of work. Not sure if fulfilled is the right word. I do help people, but I’m also glad to have the camaraderie in my department, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with being good at what I do. Fulfillment in my life happens in my relationships with my children, grandchildren, and friends.
I’d really like to work part-time, and have done so periodically. Financially, that doesn’t work out in the long run.
I have to help people in some way. If that’s not happening, it is just a grind. I also need work/life balance. I tried working 4/10’s and 3/12’s, and even though having the extra days off was nice, I was exhausted at the end of the work day. I prefer 8 hours – I get up early enough to have time in the morning and I leave work early enough to have time in the evening. It is important to take vacations, and I use all my PTO, only saving it up when I want to take a longer vacation. It’s also important to be valued and appreciated by the boss, as much as that is possible.
EXPLORATION and CIRCLING BACK:
A few years ago I studied Ayurveda with a plan to get away from traditional healthcare and have a wellness practice. That would be an amazing job – to help people really be well, instead of being in the revolving door of traditional western medicine. But when I finished my studies and took an additional course to learn what it takes to set up a practice, I realized that I would absolutely hate the aspect of having to market myself, do all the internet and social media, and that I couldn’t make as much money as I do in Case Management. So I went back to full time work for three years. In 2020, in the middle of the covid pandemic, I felt stuck and burned out. I looked for other opportunities, and this last year, I fulfilled my desire to travel by doing a couple of travel contracts, and taking time off in between.
I got what I needed from that – different work cultures, unappreciative bosses, and perspective on what is really important to me. So, at almost 65, I am returning to work full time at the hospital I left when I decided to travel. I do have opportunity to help people navigate the healthcare system and have the care they need. It’s not a dream job, or a calling, but I am good at it and have a good work environment. All the circumstances and benefits give me peace about financial security, and I have plenty of time outside of work to do what I want to do.
Like enjoying children, and flowers. 🙂