Sunday, August 26, 2012

And this is where the cracking up part starts...

Yikes!  One week and one day until nursing school starts and I'm back on the fence about it.  I'm not entirely certain I'm making the right decision.

You see, the program I applied to is an LPN program.  I have now discovered that the world has changed greatly over the years and LPNs are not in demand.  They have been phased out of hospitals and have been replaced by lower paid techs.  Today an LPN program is a great entry into the field of nursing.  It's merely a stepping stone rather than a destination, and that is not what I was looking for.

It seems that unless I want to be restricted to working in nursing homes, home health care or prisons (yes, prisons), I will need to take what is called a "bridge" program to RN (Associates Degree), while working part time as an LPN.  Then it would be in my best interest to either take courses and become certified in specialty or continue on to get my BSN.  *sigh*  I LOVE school (I could honestly become a full time student as a profession if I could get paid to do it rather than having to pay for it!).  The thing is, I really do not want to be in some form of nursing school for the next 4-6 years, which is what this all means.  The idea of waiting until I'm about 60 years old to get finished and get going on the nursing career I want exhausts me just to think about it.

I have to make a decision this week as to what I'm going to do.  I can still easily pull out of the program without the student loans going through, therefore the only thing I will have to pay for is the 2 text books I've used.  No big deal.  And that would mean I'd make one of the alternates who have been waiting to get into the program very happy indeed.

I've thought about this long and hard.  If I do pull out of the program, I am going to go back to school, but only for a few months to finish earning a few additional certifications to add onto my medical assisting creds.  Since I'll soon be back on the job market if I don't go to nursing school, that can only help open more doors (and hopefully doors that pay a bit higher too).

I've not totally decided against nursing school though.  I could go through the LPN program,  be a nurse a year from now, and work in a nursing home the remainder of my work career.  LPNs are pretty much in charge at the nursing homes, I could work two to three 12 hour shifts a week and bring home great pay.  This would also leave me with about 4 days a week to pursue my biggest interests in life.  Sounds ideal, but the problem is that in this economy the LPNs are not budging from the nursing homes and even though the population is aging and more nursing homes will open, etc., schools are churning out LPNs en masse after making promises of great jobs due to a nursing shortage that doesn't really exist.

Oh, and did I mention that the school I am scheduled to attend is only accredited by my state's Board of  Nursing and is not regionally accredited?  This means that while it's a legitimate school and I would indeed be a bonafide LPN after finishing and passing my state boards, the credits that I earn there will not be transferrable into other colleges.  Given the exorbitant tuition they are charging (5 figures!), I find it unacceptable that my credits would be useless.   If I knew that I wanted to simply become an LPN and stay one forever it would be fine.  But since I was looking at RN and a specialty, this definitely puts a huge damper on the whole thing.

I have to make another confession while I'm discussing this whole conundrum, and that is that I am unable to see myself being able to work in a nursing home for the next 15 years.  I just don't know if I have the right stuff for it.  I fear it would become too depressing and I would grow to dislike it.

Tomorrow I'm going to call the 2 schools I've been checking out for my additional certifications to add to my certification as a medical assistant and see if I can drop by this week and check things out so I can make a final informed decision.

You see...Cate's cracking up!  Apt change to the title of my blog I think!


  1. Ooh...this kind of puts a whole new light on things. Why not just go straight into a nursing program (RN)? Skip the "bridge" stuff and just jump in with both feet? I would expect that your current credits (if not from the same school) would easily transfer into an RN program. Also, I found that if I took classes during the summer, tuition was halved for that semester. I did 4 years in 3 1/2 and I only brought in 7 credit hours to start.

    I took a medical coding and billing course and passed the national exams first time through (barely). Color me surprised when I couldn't find a job in the field. In speaking with a local group's officer, I was told the market is "saturated" in Illinois and it would be tough to find a job. Unless I am willing to travel to downtown Chicago (which I no longer am willing to do), I'm not even using my BBA in accounting at my current job.

    Considering, I'm just lucky to have a job! LOL

    Good luck with your decision making, Cathy. I think your post will guide you...that and prayer.

    1. Thank you CrimsonLeaves.

      I'd love to go straight into a BSN RN program, except they have a waiting list in my area of about 2-3 years, plus a year of prerequisites. Then 4 years of school. This puts me at over 60 before I get started, plus I would essentially be unable to earn a full time salary at any time during this process because I know it would be more than I can juggle. We just can't afford that.

      LPN is a good way to jump in, start working as a nurse, then move forward. I would be an RN with lots of other opportunities for employment opening faster by going the LPN to RN bridge route than if I just went straight to the RN (there is no wait list for the LPN to RN bridge).

      The mind boggles!!! You're right about feeling lucky just to have a job. I worry so about my dear hubby carrying the financial ball alone while I'm in school full time. These days it's a heavier burden than it used to be with the economy and all. He says he can do it, but somehow I feel like I'm being unfair and overburdening him. I mean, when is it HIS turn to pursue one of his dreams?

  2. You answered you own question when you said you would finish at the age of 60. Even with the healthiest of bodies, age does slow one down a bit. I would ask myself - where and what do I want to be doing in my sixties? I would talk to some older nurses and ask their opinion. I come from a family of nurses and I certainly know how much harder it got for them all. Also the paperwork has become time intensive and most nurses feel they are not "nursing" any more.
    Think more about the nursing home. Especially in a high caliber place. You will be treasured more there because intelligent, caring people will always be respected. The nursing care you give is one of continuation. Relationships are formed and the gratitude of the patient AND family can be emotionally rewarding. I would go visiting and talking to the working people in both areas of the remarkable nursing profession.

    I enjoyed your honesty in sharing your thoughts about this subject.

  3. Thanks so much for your input Julie, and it's nice to meet you! :)

    Great minds and all that!

    Last night I spoke with my hubby's stepmother. She's an LPN in her 60s and she assured me that I'm definitely not too old to get into nursing. She said that nursing school will be rough because my early clinicals will have me doing CNA work with lots of lifting, but assured me that once I became an LPN that would change in a nursing home environment.

    Thank you for your thoughts about nursing homes. I worked in one for years as a volunteer (social activities not health care), and definitely became very attached to the residents. It became like a personal loss when one of them would pass away - this is my concern about nursing homes.

    Obviously I have lots to think and pray about!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I see what you mean then, Cate! Now I'm picturing mitochondrial lining up and separating here...a pros and cons list? Could you do something like an eBay or Etsy store that would allow you to make some money while you went to school? I found when I was in school that retail was pretty perfect for me allowing me to work around both my kids and my classes. Now I'm just tossing ideas around, hoping that something might be an idea that would work for you. Also, have you looked into Physician Assistant programs? I could be wrong but I think they are two year programs and allow you lots of patient contact too. The pay is phenomenal. I know there is a school here in Illinois for that as one of my past doctors was associated with the school, having a revolving PA student through her office. She was an osteopathic doc and for some reason, I think the school was affiliated.

    Like you, I could also be a student forever. I wish I still had the energy!

  5. I'd love to do a PA program if I was younger. It is a Masters Degree program and I would have YEARS to go before I'd get through the acceptance process and finish school. It is the oddest feeling to realize that I now have to factor my age into my decisions. Quite frankly, I'm not used to it at all and am not sure I like it. LOL! I would be in my 60s before I would be able to freely practice as a PA and I'm just not sure that I want to be embarking on such a demanding career at that point in my life.

    Since becoming a medical assistant I also studied various holistic modalities and am also board certified as a Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP). I am currently working for a holistic health shop (supplements, herbs, organics, etc.), and use my HHP knowledge there. I'd like to find a way to combine it with my allopathic medicine education.

    Ah well, time will tell! (And I wish I had the energy too! A part of me is exhausted just thinking about school!)