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Climbing and Nursing


Original Post
Nate K · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 220

Hey MP community. im looking into getting my BSN and i was wondering how many people here work as nurses. it seems like a good job for a climber with the flexible hours or options to work as a travel nurse. Any body have advice on good schools or specialties or towns/cities to look in to?

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

you're not thinking of being a nurse just because of the schedule are you? If you are, you'll get your ass handed to you, be miserable and out a lot of money.

Gretchen 81 · · Longview, WA · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 60

I would agree with mediocre's sentiment. We are both nurses. Do not go in to nursing for the schedule. You will hate your life. It's hard, hard work that is physically and emotionally exhausting. If you like the medical field (guts, smells, bodily fluids, etc), helping people, and life long learning then go for it. It can have the perk of being an interesting, engaging profession and occasionally you get the schedule how you want it.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745

Good nursing pgm at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh NY (30 min. from the Gunks). Private college so pricey, but more personal attention IME than larger/state schools.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

I'm surprised you guys are saying schedules are a minus. My wife's a nurse. She works 12 hour shifts, 3 days/week. Sometimes her schedule allows her five to seven days off without taking vacation time. It's not all good as sometimes she works Monday, Wednesday and the weekend.

Oh and if you don't like blood and guts go to the Psyh floor :)

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 495

Yeah, I agree with Bill. I understand some folks' sentiments about "doing it for the right reasons", but I went into nursing at age 30 primarily for the schedule, and I regret absolutely nothing. I love my life. I work in an Emergency Room, and I work 3 12 hour nights a week. I climb at least 3 days a week and do big trail runs any day I'm not climbing. A "week" is 36 hours, and my hospital starts new employees with 176 hours of PTO a year (4.9 weeks), 216 hours after 2 years (6 weeks), and 256 hours after 5 years (7.1 weeks). If I wanted to, I could request to work Sun, Mon, Tue, take 36 hours PTO, and then work Thurs, Fri, Sat for a total of 15 days off. The ER has mid-shift positions available, meaning if I wanted to switch to a different shift I could potentially work 7a-7p, 9a-9p, 11a-11p, 1a-1p, 3p-3a, or 7p-7a.

I could talk all about how I also think the job is super interesting, but I think even if I hated my job, which I don't, I'd still manage to do it for the opportunity it allows me outside of work. Besides, nursing is more than just bedside stuff. It's an incredibly diverse field: home health, clinics, OR, long term care, ER, trauma care, med-surg, case management, oncology. I know some nurses who work from home who do computer analytics stuff. If you manage to stay in one place long enough and become a manager, all of the sudden you're a business person living on spreadsheets, graphs, powerpoints, and meetings. Once you have a BSN, getting a MSN and becoming an NP or Educator isn't that far out of reach. Many hospitals will pay for at least part of the schooling.

Travel nursing can be lucrative, but it can be hard if you have or want a family. The typical deal is that you work 13 week assignments. You may actually be able to find an assignment relatively close to home: most agencies and hospitals require your tax home to be 50 miles or more away. Between assignments you can take a bunch of weeks off. As a travel nurse, you might expect to get shittier shift assignments than someone working as a regular employee, though that isn't a given.

There can indeed be some frustrating aspects of the job. But overall it's the best decision I've ever made.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

The big reason I went to nursing school was because the other career options (teacher, rope access, whateverIcouldget) I had previously gone to school for or trained for were highly competitive with few options to progress. The schedule is ok, but I'm in the OR and have an extremely set schedule. Med-surg nurses have the best time off options.

I started as a CNA and I highly recommend it. It was weird doing a job that paid $11 an hour that required very little education. It allowed me see first hand what the worst of the field was like and decide before it was too late. Turns out I really enjoyed it. Then nursing school happened and it turns out I enjoyed almost all of my placements. I really think the CNA work prepared me for it.

Some people have mentioned that nursing school is hard. It is but for different reasons than you'd expect. The cascade of information you're supposed to absorb isn't the problem. The problem (and I hear most programs are like this) is that the faculty develops an "us vs. them" attitude toward the students. Always antagonistic and occasionally actively looking for reasons to dismiss students in good standing. It adds a layer of stress that is pretty detrimental to actually learning and applying all of your knowledge. You have to be prepared for that.

How old do you want to be when you start. Typical prereqs will take you 3 semesters (A&P1, A&P2, and Patho can't usually be taken concurrently) then an accelerated program is 4-5 semesters and goes through the summer. It's long term process.

All that said, I had a job offer about a month before I graduated and the trajectory of my life finally has me feeling good about my direction. I don't climb as often or as hard but maybe that's just me.

Patrick Vernon · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 935

Sometimes I think nurses who joined the profession with overly altruistic intentions get just as much of a wake up call as nurses who enter the profession for schedule and job stability.

Nursing is a difficult profession that very few things can prepare you for. Istruggled to find 5 minutes to eat during a 12 hour shift when I started as an ER nurse. There is a significant amount of responsibility involved, you often deal with very angry people who don't want your help and you have to clean up bodily fluids. Hospitals are cronically understaffed and evebtually you will probably get called to testify in court regarding something that went wrong. Also you deal with bitter old RN's who love to eat their young. I hesitate to say nursing is rewarding in the sense of "i saved a bunch of lives today" but sometimes it is. Despite the difficulties I enjoy it.

The learning curve out of school is very steep. You will never be able to practice as you were taught in school. As you devote more time things get easier and oporitunities for better jobs and advancement start to open up. The stress is always there, it has to be if you want to perform your job correctly. The schedule is nothing short of amazing especially if you are a climber. Now I am at a place where I can work travel assigments, take 4-5 months off a year, still have tons of time off while working, and make a very decent salary.

I worked most recently in a large urban ER which saw everything. You do a wide variety of mundane tasks such as getring people cofee all the way up to titrating pressors on critically ill patients and managing patients in DKA. You have to know a little about a lot and in some cases alot about a little. Hope this gives you some insight. Best to volunteer in a hospital setting or work as a CNA first, though neither of these really show you what you are in for.

Nate K · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 220

Thanks for the responses everyone. Just to clarify there is much more than the schedule that interests me. I have always planned on going into healthcare because its interesting and meaningful. im choosing nursing because it seems like the most practical choice with a good work/life balance and room to always learn more. It seems like a great career for a lot of reasons. I will definitely make the effort to contact some hospitals and do some job shadowing.

Mike Kubes · · Duluth MN · Joined May 2014 · Points: 103

If you’re interested in getting into healthcare look into becoming an EMT or Paramedic. Paramedic typically a pretty intense 2 year program but you get to work in a prehospital setting, don’t have to wipe butts and you get a lot more freedom to practice patient care than nurses do, in some really challenging settings at times. That being said you will also make a little more than half of what a nurse makes. I work as a paramedic in northern Minnesota and I work two 24hr shifts per week. It’s a super rewarding and at times challenging career.
EMT is about a 190hr course (one semester) that may provide good exposure to the healthcare field to see if it’s something you want to pursue. Plus it provides you with some great general knowledge that is good to have when in the backcountry.

greg koz · · Bel air, md · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 0

Great profession! Been a RN for a while, and yes days/nights are long, work is hard, but totally worth it. (at least for me). Also check out ADN programs. Get your associates degree and go back for a BSN once you get a job. Most hospitals pay for you to go back to school.

WinstonVoigt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 115

100% depends on what your end-goal is and what your expectations are. I'm a BSN, RN, EMT and I thought I'd be climbing a whole lot more. Yes you only HAVE to work 3x12 shifts but the requirements to be a nurse, especially if you have any desire to advance yourself require more. Certifications, continuing ed, hospital committees, specialized training all take up time. And, if you work nights your schedule will be totally fucked as training and sleep eat away at each other.

Also- if you've never worked in healthcare- prepare your anus becuase there is a steep learning curve and people sometimes suck.

That being said I love working in a huge ED/Level I Trauma center and when I leave work it stays there and I get my vacations to climb and travel.

Nate K · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 220

Mike I have considered paramedic a lot but the low pay and very high burn out rate makes me not want to do it. Im already an EMT and it would take as long for me to become a medic at this point as it would for me to get a second bachelors in nursing. To be honest i think I might enjoy being a medic more than a nurse. With nursing i figure i have the option to do both, there are some really short BSN to EMTP bridge courses out there that ive heard of flight nurses taking.

Im hesitant to do the ADN program because someone who works as an educator told me that hospitals will pretty-much not be hiring many ADNs anymore after 2025 or something like that, meaning id have to go back fairly soon anyways.

haha no Mustard its not a mom baby deal but i am getting married soon which means no more of that occasional guiding/ instructor work, living in my truck and dumpster diving. Gotta start real life and find a big boy job now.

Everyone in this thread has been super helpful, thank you all for the replies!

Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

Hi Nate, I worked as an EMT for 3 years and a medic for 3 after that.

+1 for not going the medic route. The pay sucks, and most of the time the work is just shitty. Do you have commercial experience?

If being a medic sounds exciting, it is. It's honestly exciting to provide physician level care without even an associated degree. And intubating someone while they're getting cut out of a car is pretty neat.

But here are some of the really, really shitty realities of being a medic:

You will get called into work. All. The. Time. Departments are understaffed because we burn out and just refuse to do what we're expected to do for $18/hr. And that cuts into sleep & climbing big time. Try working a back-back 24, you don't have relief and surprise you're up for 36 in a row with only 8 hrs off before your next shift.

This happens in commercial EMS, regularly. It's exhausting, you spend way too much time with people who are lumps of negativity and after a while it just rubs off on you. If you like being a positive, happy person stay away. You can only deal with so many crackheads that try to assault you before you just. Stop. Caring. Which is tough to deal with.

Also, HR for EMS companies 100% do not care about you unless you can get a spot in a county based service, but those are usually available to medics with significant experience.

It is becoming more and more dangerous for us. I've had 2 friends murdered on the job, and have been assaulted more times than I can count by pt and family. You're putting yourself at huge risk for what gain exactly? It's totally an ego shot to wear that badge, but when it boils down to it, it's not a career for most people.

If you want flexibility. Go nursing. You'll be able to travel, go between specialties and not be stuck in the same ambulance in the same town with a new partner every week because emt's go so fast

That being said, what I learned as a medic has been invaluable in life. It got me into medical school so in the end, worth it.

Ask yourself if medical school might be the way to go. More money, more opportunity for advancement and innovating in your field.

Cause someday, you might find that thing that you do, and you realize that it fulfills you more than climbing. As climbers we like to go big and push limits, so consider med school if you're into it and willing to put in the work.

Close friends who are nurses are happy with their careers, and are always getting some new cool cert that the hospital pays for. The work less, in a better environment, with better professional support. Sounds good yeah?

Nursing is a much better option than paramedicine, unless you're in it for the challenge, and that I get 100%

Mike Kubes · · Duluth MN · Joined May 2014 · Points: 103

I agree being a paramedic is not something that is sustainable. Maybe look at becoming a PA. It not sure if you have a BA/BS yet but if you get your BA in nursing it may be an option. My sister-in-law works 3-4 days a week. Pay is much better than Medic or RN.

TSluiter · · Holland, VT · Joined May 2013 · Points: 290

Yo Nate!

I see you're in VT. I went to UVM for a related field (Lab Sci) and hung out with a lot of the nursing students there. I also worked at UVM Medical Center for while. They have a great school/program there and you will get loads of good experience in many fields. Sticking with a big teaching hospital will open up many more doors than going to a program that does not have a teaching hospital.

The lady is in a BSN/RN program in Sherbrooke, QC (it's nearly free) and loving it.

I wouldn't go into nursing unless you're absolutely sure you'll love the work. It's tough, physically and emotionally. Just a tough job all around, but also very rewarding. If you can dig it, then you will love it.

The schedules do end up in your favor after a moment, the amount of openings all around lets you be a little choosy, but most often you'll start out working overnights/weekends or evenings.

I'm currently working 3 13's and it's fantastic. Healthcare is a good field. I'd keep your options open as you learn the ropes before choosing a specialty. However, something like surgery or cardiology or neurology are burgeoning fields and will land you a higher rate of pay than say working at a nursing home.

K-Tanz · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 205

I am a nurse in Phoenix and love it. I typically opt to not pickup any overtime, but it is available. I work 10a-10p 3x/wk. The people on my shift self schedule and self balance which means, within certain restrictions regarding weekends, Mondays, and Fridays, I make my own schedule. If you have ninja skills and a penchant for self punishment this means you can backload one week, front load the following, and end up with 8 days off and not taking any PTO or sick days to do so. This is not uncommon.

You had better like people, want to help them, and have lots of patience. We are cursed at, spit on, have piss thrown on us, physically assaulted, and just generally told that we are terrible people.

All that said it is very rewarding independent of a sweet schedule and patient problems. People will be genuinely thankful for what you do, and the satisfaction that comes with fishing someone's crashing physiology out of the toilet is unable to be matched.

After a couple years you have lots of options available. Per diem jobs that pay well with requirements as low as 4 days a month which you pick yourself, flight jobs, fixed wing aircraft jobs, travel gigs to whereever. Lots of flexible options.

Michael Schneider · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 745

I'm not sure who to quote?
The short version, Risks in Nursing

Google it your self !

High turn over, burn-out, suiscide rates, nursing emplyoment, substance abuse, rates of long term poverty. Family failure.

K. Le Douche · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 100

The schedule is by far the biggest benefit. I may sound like a dick for saying so, but I got into nursing for the main reason of working three days a week, while still making good money. Helping ppl and seeing some cool sh!t along the way is just gravy on top of the schedule and money.

You should be aware though, that maintaining any kind of regular training schedule is actually pretty hard working three 12's. You will end up trying to cram a week's worth of training into 4 days, and those three 12's are hardly rest days. The schedule is great for climbing trips though... you'll just be weak on those trips ;-) (or I'm just a huge whimp...)

As far as the job goes, it is pretty emotionally taxing, and you will get worked like a rented mule. You will work on units that are short staffed regularly, you'll get bitched at by co-workers, patients, family members, management and Dr's, and your sleep cycle will just be plain f#cked. On the other hand, you'll meet a lot of great ppl, see a few "miracles", and touch a lot of really gross sh!t (pun intended), but that's what gloves are for...

If you are by nature a hard worker, have a strong stomach, and handle stress well; I'd say go for it. If not, look for something else. Also, be honest about how "book smart" you are. If that's not something that comes natural to you, you should also look for something else.

You should also know that as a "new grad", you'll likely start out working nights. That is going to make those three 12's feel like 4 12's. You're also not going to start out making good money unless you work in a union state. In CO new grads start at about $22-$25 / hr. That's not a lot of money when you consider housing costs out here.

Good luck in what ever you decide. I personally am glad I went into it. There's a lot that sucks about it, but that's the same with any job. I'm still pretty jealous of the "teacher schedule" though...

SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5

Nursing is an awesome career. At least in California. They are paid handsomely. Also perhaps consider firefighter/paramedic as its high paying and work 10 days a month. Depending on where you are located.

Note: I read about half of the thread so this may have been mentioned and shot down by MP wolves. Lol.

webdog · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 0

If you're already an EMT then you know you should skip being a medic. MP user Medic already mentioned the downsides. Long hours, shitty pay, even worse treatment from your employer.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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