I entered nursing training when I was 18 years old, that was many moons ago. At the time, I was a senior in high school and the school offered a co-op program with a list of companies that would take the senior and allow them to volunteer a few hours per week so they could get a feel of what the job entailed. The senior had the opportunity to shadow the employee in their job. This gave the senior a chance to see what the job was all about and if they wanted to go that career route.
One of the co-op jobs on this list was that of a Candy Striper. The Candy Striper would assist the nurse or nurse’s aide in a hospital setting. The Candy Striper would run errands for the professionals and help to keep patients company and help to feed patients who needed help.
I liked the idea of what doctors and nurses did to help people. My intention was to enter the Registered Nurses Program at the local hospital but I was two days late for the enrollment cut off. My mother told me to take one year and enter the Licensed Practical Nurses program at our college and the next year I could enter the Registered Nurse program. She felt I would be ahead of the class and I agreed that it was an excellent idea.
I met my future husband during this time and married directly after graduation. I always had good reasons I thought for not going back to school, a new husband, a pregnancy eight months later and a new home all kept me too busy to go to school. Besides, now I needed to work for the income and I did not want to miss one second of life with my husband and children. The family always came first and then my job.
I certainly did not go into nursing for the money, as the base pay for a Licensed Practical Nurse at that time was $1.20 per hour. I thought I was rich. After one year in intensive care on nights, I transferred to a long-term medical facility where I took care of mostly seniors. Seniors taught me so much because they are full of wisdom by the time they reach 80-90 years of age.
This transfer gave me a rise of $50.00 per paycheck, not a lot by today’s standards, but 40-years ago it was a million dollars. As my years and experience grew in the nursing profession so did my salary. When I retired I was making about 25 times more then when I took my first nursing position so long ago.
I decided that if I was going to be a Licensed Practical Nurse for the long haul I would be the very best LPN I could possibly be. Many times throughout my career, I did the same job as the Registered Nurses I worked with. Quite a few times employers offered positions to me that were set aside for an RN only.
I have worked in about every realm of nursing throughout my 46-years on the job from Assistant Director of Nursing, to emergency rooms, intensive care, children to seniors, to management positions. I had many experiences and learned a lot. I would not change that knowledge for any amount of money as it only helped me to be the person I am today.
This experience gave me confidence to take care of any kind of medical emergency or crisis until an ambulance came. This gave me the confidence of taking care of my children and other children or adult who became hurt. A nurse just automatically knows what to do to help. Having the knowledge to help someone out was a big reason why I went into nursing. I also enjoyed being the eyes and ears for the doctors.
When I worked with a patient who was seriously ill and I could see that person take baby steps towards regaining their health, I knew that I had a part in that process and it made me feel good. Nurses do not always get a thank you and that is all right, however when a patient does say, “Thanks for being there and helping me”, that always warmed my heart.
When I retired in 2010, I went on to use my knowledge to become a freelance writer of health and wellness articles and set up an informational website to help people and give tips on various health related issues. The knowledge a nurse receives during her career continues long after retirement and she is still able to help people address concerns, help out in emergencies, and give common sense advice.