Now what?

I have been pondering my academic future quite a bit lately. A month or so ago I was at my cousin’s high school graduation where my grandfather asked me about my job, etc. I mentioned that I was thinking about what I was going to do next. He replied that he thought I was doing what I wanted to do. I laughed and said, “Never!”

It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with where I am now, just that I’m always looking forward. Where do I want to be? What do I ultimately want to do? Maybe I really just want to be a perpetual student. 😀

Seriously, though, while my interests are varied, I do love working in healthcare, and I expect that’s where I’ll stay for the majority of the future. But what do I want to do in healthcare? I love nursing, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to actually work as a CNL, which is what I was educated and certified as. However, the concept has really not caught on and I wonder if it ever will. Do I feel like waiting to find out? And if not, then… what?

The quality thing works for now, definitely. But I can see myself getting burnt out on my current role. Perhaps as my role evolves (and the economy evolves!) I will be able to transition to doing more of what I like (chart review, data analysis, PI projects) and less of the crap. I should probably mention here that our department’s assistant is only per diem which means that I end up acting in that role a lot, and it is neither my interest nor my forte. If someone calls me “the secretary” one more time I may just snap. I have nothing against secretaries, mind you, it’s just frustrating when that stuff takes away from the nursing stuff that I would far rather be doing.

So, yes, I like the quality stuff, but I don’t know where I want to go with it if I can’t do it as a CNL. I look at my boss’s job and think, do I really want that? Not so sure.

I think often about returning to the bedside. I know that there are different kinds of nurses out there, but I do struggle with the fact that I did not attain the clinical skills I wanted in my short stint. I fantasize about working in a NICU. Tiny equipment, tiny patients. It’s all right up my alley! My fear is that I won’t be able to get my foot in the door.

Another option I’ve been seriously considering is returning to the esteemed (ha!) grad school to get my family nurse practitioner (FNP) certificate. I only need about nine classes to complete it. Primary care has always been an interest of mine, and I would love to provide family care. But, of course, that means more time I’d need to devote not only to classes, but to clinical time, as well. And, well, I know what I’m getting into in terms of politics, lack of organization, etc. that exists within that institution. Work-wise, I could easily do the FNP certificate part-time, but I’d need more flexibility than my job currently affords, so… something to think on.

Another option is a PhD program I’ve been eyeing. It’s affiliated with a medical school in the state and one of their concentration options is in healthcare improvement. I think that if I stayed in quality I’d probably want to do it at the PhD level… i.e. research changes that have a more global impact, teach others about healthcare improvement.

These are the two predominant thoughts at the moment, though there are others. I could get an MBA (I think that we really need more people in healthcare with a good understanding of business)… though the more time I spend in a hospital, the less interested I am in running a hospital…. I’d rather run healthcare! Another thought is running away to Canada or the UK where they have more reasonable expectations of birth (VBACs are ok! vaginal breech birth can be safe! midwives rock!) and returning to my love of birth. Then earlier this week one of the clinical educators sent me a brochure about a clinical research certificate program at an area college… while I can’t believe I’m saying this, I am thinking that research might not be so bad, particularly if I could research things related to birth (i.e. provide the evidence for evidence-based practice). However, that particular program seems to be largely focused on training nurses to work in drug trials and I’m not sure I really feel like doing that. And finally there is this small, and rather insane, part of me that thinks, you know, maybe I should go to medical school, do an obstetrics residency that actually teaches things like vaginal breech birth, safe VBACs, etc. (I know these things exist, as I found an MD’s blog on being in such a residency program), and be the OB I think women deserve.

But for the moment, I am learning lots of new things and trying to get the most of out my current role… in between answering the phones, acting as the department’s resident tech support (how this happened, I don’t know, but I’m thinking of offering classes… lesson one, how to use the tab key instead of hitting the spacebar ten times; lesson 2, stop double-spacing after a period, the white holes in text hurt my eyes; lesson 3, how to use the cute little icons in the tool bar instead of going through a menu every time you want to open, close, save, cut, paste, etc.), and constantly trying to get to the bottom of my to-do list, I am picking up things that I would never have seen as a staff nurse. I can see the big picture and am figuring out how each of the cogs in the system go together. I know this experience will serve me well whatever road I choose to go down next… after all, we all know that when I reach the end of that road I’ll just be looking for another one to take me somewhere else. 🙂

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