When I chose at the age of 30 to expand on my career as opposed to changing my career, which, I’ll explain later, I had the momentary thought that I was crazy.
Now in the 3rd decade of my life, many my age would honestly be settling down. By this, I mean 1) Married, 2) Have kids, 3) Bought a house and settled down somewhere, 4) Focus on family, 5) Building their already chosen careers, 6) Stabilizing finances for the family or retirement
When I think about a lot of my friends, a good majority of them are doing the top 3, and I have a feeling many who haven’t are doing the bottom 3 and some of the top 3. So, where do I fall in? I have to admit, I think the 5th is where I’m at — building and expanding on a career that I have only begun to understand.
To decision to obtain a 2nd Masters was a tough one. For the obvious reason — going to profession isn’t cheap, and student loans these days are crazy crazy. Debt is scary, and no light business. The 2nd reason is this — I’d be considered an older candidate. While I may have the experience of work to justify my crazy reasoning of going back to school, the fact of the matter is that older equates to the fact that it’ll be more difficult to catch up to them younger graduates whose brains are still working on overdrive and who can perhaps stay up late into the wee hours of the night and do all nighters. Being the night owl that I am, all nighters these days are hard. Trust me, 2AM study nights and work the next day is really tough. Lastly, will I even survive nursing school? It’s tough stuff, and frankly, I’m always worried about whether or not this is even worthy it emotionally, physically, and mentally.
However, after some long reflective moments, I decided it was worth it and here are my reasonings behind it.
1. The feeling that my medical knowledge is inadequate to help the very people who ask me questions and many times those they go to don’t give them very good answers. As a health educator, one thing is clear — I CANNOT diagnose. Nor would I try to, because it’s not within my realm of expertise or my scope of work for my current certification. It’s frustrating to hear the complaints of my diabetes class participants who talk about their provider who doesn’t tell them things. It’s really hard.
I recall one conversation once, where in a previous position, I was on the phone with a provider, and we were talking and debating on standards of care about a patient who had lab tests that indicated a patient may be diabetic. Of course, not able to diagnose, I had to phone in the provider to see. This debate, while interesting, was incredibly unfortunate, because guess who wanted to know but may not know — the patient. I told the patient that they needed to go see the provider, to get clarification on what the lab results meant. I get a call from this very provider, and hence our debate — a good one, but it was unfortunate because this patient would have known a lot earlier, had the provider was up to date with standards of care.
2. I miss the clinic. I really do. My MA days, as chaotic as it was, gave me an opportunity to work with patients. While there are incredibly difficult patients, there’s something about it that I liked. It was the direct contact with people who had real issues that wanted help, not only from the arena of health, but other areas too.
3. A chance to really meld public health and healthcare together. There’s this notion that public health folks are failed healthcare professionals who can’t get into a professional school. NOT TRUE. Public Health professionals are the ones who help move policy, shift culture, and figure out real world issues from a big picture perspective. They know a lot. Many times are more up to date with standards of care than providers (True story…it’s scary). As a healthcare professional armed with experience and knowledge of public health, you get the best of two worlds by combining the two areas. Let me just say, I’m not set on an adminsitrative position. I want in on the clinical side and the policy side of things, so don’t even think this is a means to an administrative position, because I don’t want to sit in an office and just talk to policy makers, movers and shakers who make policy, and whoever else does so. No, I want to work with patients while also helping move local policy, even if its a cultural shift in the clinical setting.
So, these are some of the reasons as to why, despite all my friends and many colleagues are doing the 6 things I mentioned above, I’m also trying to expand on a career that I hadn’t seen possible before. Don’t get me wrong, those 6 things, I’d love to have in my life. Perhaps it’s because I’m not doing many of these things — I’m not married or have a family, that’s also helped me make my decision to go back to school and expand on a career of nursing and public health. I’m so busy now, but can you imagine what it would be like if I had a partner, spouse, or even kids? I would feel really bad for them. I really would, because I’m not there in their life. Then, there’s life itself. Over 30, life is different, there’s different dramas that come up more often than you think. So as tough as it is, I think that my journey is unique, but hopefully one that can encourage all you 30 somethings out there who want to either change their careers or expand their career into something more.
The next phase is to apply (in my case round 2 of applications). Again, gathering a lot of material for the application process, figuring out a game plan, and of course, the most difficult, is also planning courses to take as well. Phew, talk about a lot of work. I’m rounding out my current class right now (taking physiology, with a final approaching). I’m also signing up for an accelerated anatomy course. Both serve as refresher courses, since my requirements have been already set. Then there’s the beloved TEAS…let me just say…even though I can use my old TEAS score of 5 years…I’m going to retake it to give a current score, and hopefully, with some studying, I’ll do well (i.e. Above the recommended and honestly…I just want blow a few minds of the admissions committee — I like setting high standards for myself…)
Am I busy, you bet! But hey, I’d rather feel the groans and pains of a busy life now, then feel it when I start school and go nuts wondering what I’m doing (although I’m sure I’ll have my moments of wondering what I’m doing…I know I will when I get to school).
Cheers to the process and the journey.