When I was growing up (50s and 60s), the two main jobs women could aspire to were ____ and ____.
If you or your child or grandchild is struggling with what to do after they graduate this spring, tell them to always go for what gives them goose bumps.
I bet you could fill in those blanks with “teacher” and “nurse.” Thank goodness that list these days is wide open, pretty much.
My sister knew from the time she was hospitalized with appendicitis as a child that she wanted to be a nurse. The smell of hospitals thrilled her. She got goose bumps when she visited one.
Goose bumps are a really good sign. Seriously.
So she went to college, majored in nursing, and came out with a nice degree as an RN. She has never really had to look for work, even though she changed locations a number of times. Nursing seems to be a field that always needs workers (and pays decently). You work hard, long hours on your feet, and must be always vigilant in today’s litigious environment, but for those who can take it, it is a great vocation.
So I tried both fields, briefly. My stint as a candy striper volunteer in high school was particularly short lived but informative, as a strong indication that nursing wasn’t for me. I loved the atmosphere but didn’t relish the queasy stomach.
I tried teaching in a year of voluntary service in Appalachia (nursery school level). While I loved teaching and being with the children, I hated the prep work. That always-something-more-to-do feeling of the next lesson plan, the next project. When I taught writing for two terms on the college level, I also hated the omnipresent papers to grade. My second sister became a teacher. She was a natural with everything but the paperwork.
But when I got goose bumps was touring the Chicago Tribune as an adolescent, and seeing my first byline a few years later. My intuition and feedback from teachers and readers drew me to writing/communication as a career. If you or your child or grandchild is struggling with what to do after they graduate this spring, tell them to always go for what gives them goose bumps.
My only second thoughts about my vocation as a writer came when I was in the hospital having babies, and when my own daughters were recently in the hospital having babies. The process of labor and delivery was and is thrilling to me. Labor and delivery have changed almost 180 degrees since I had babies in the early to mid-80s in terms of what’s in and what’s out with techniques and approaches, but having a baby still involves the hard work of push push push and then the thrill of seeing a new life enter the world. And all that comes after.
I recently read an article looking at “Nursing as a Christian Calling” (Christian Week, Aug. 2013, p. 6). And it wasn’t just talking about RN programs, but focusing on “practical nurse” diplomas. While “practical nurses,” or LPNs or licensed vocational nurses (in Canada, sometimes also called enrolled nurses), are on their way out in some hospitals because hospitals’ records of merit are sometimes graded on how many RNs they have, (versus practical nurses or LPNs), the work of the hands-on nurse who takes the pulse, listens to the heartbeat, and gets the blood pressure is doing more than just handling instruments. They are interacting with real people.
One program at Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada, adds courses in Bible, spiritual formation, theology, and ethical/theological issues directly related to nursing. Recent graduate Melissa Basey said, “They don’t just teach you to be a LPN so that you can come out with a job, but so that you can come out with a ministry.” This school even added an international practicum where students go to another country for four weeks and receive valuable cross-cultural experience, and learn about community health issues and administrating medical care to people in poverty. This greatly broadens the horizons of these students. I’m sure this kind of ministry-oriented program is available at other schools as well.
Maybe being a practical nurse will be my second career. After three kids, you kind of get over the squeamishness. And the labor and delivery department still gives me goose bumps.
What kind of work inspires you—gets you going? I’d love to hear more! Comment at www.thirdway.com/aw or write to me at or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802.
Posted 3/6/2014 7:00:00 AM