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  Thursday January 29th, 2015    

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Home from the hospital! (12/04/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

No matter how good the treatment, the hospital is not my favorite home away from home, although it might not be a bad place to go sometime when I’m not sick. Still, the noise of the machines and constant monitoring prevent a really good night’s sleep

The surgery — double mastectomy and reconstruction— took twenty hours. “They have a team,” I was assured. But still. Really no one fell asleep with a scalpel in his hand? One more reason I am glad I didn’t pursue a career in medicine.

But I was interested in why all the people around me had chosen the health care field. I remember when I was at the College of Saint Teresa, there was a large nursing department. Everyone in the department wanted to be a nurse to “help people.” I figured there must be ways to help people without blood and guts, so I majored in English, a very helpful language.

During my recent stay at Rochester Methodist I decided to ask all my nurses why they went into nursing. The floor I was on had a larger than usual percentage of male nurses, which made the answers quite a bit more varied.

Many of the male nurses were inspired by a mother or grandmother who was a nurse. What appealed to them most, they reported, was the breadth of the field. There are so many different types of nursing to choose from, unlike the olden days, when if you said your mother was a nurse, everyone had a pretty accurate picture of not only what she did, but how she dressed on the job. Now, nurses are needed in all medical fields, and can work in myriad settings — from urban jungles to Amazonian jungles and all in between.

Quite a few of the nurses were working on advanced degrees or specialties. One of my nurses wanted to be an anesthesiology nurse in the surgical setting. Many of them were able to get their schooling paid for by their employers in return for a promise to come back and work there. They all said how fortunate they felt to have such job assurances in this economy.

Many said they loved the flexible hours of nursing. It makes it easier and cheaper to raise kids when you can get a good-paying job for the hours that your spouse can be home with the kids. It is even easier to schedule which days of the week you want to work than at a typical office job. Many of the younger nurses were raising families, and about half of them had spouses also in the health care field. A few weren’t yet working a full-time schedule, but were confident that they soon would.

One guy, obviously older, had been working as a nurse for fifteen years. He and his two brothers had started out trying to run the family farm, but it soon became clear there was not enough money there for all of them. John, his name is, decided to join his wife, who had been in nursing for fifteen years already, and is very happy with his choice. They will soon be looking forward to a nice retirement with the chance to work reduced hours, or go into a less demanding type of nursing than in the hospital setting, if they wish.

A young woman with a husband and kids had gone into nursing after quitting school to come home and take care of her mother in her last months. Her mother died at the age of 49 of lung cancer. She said it occurred to her that she could offer families that same advantage of a long bittersweet good-bye by being a nurse working with the dying and their families. She had to leave one day because her back was giving her too much pain, however, one of the hazards of the nursing field that they constantly work to avoid.

They seemed all to like their jobs, and there was remarkably little, if any, talk of office politics, but I imagine that would vary if I weren’t the patient.

It made me think that health care is a good field to go into, not just in this economy, but any time. Thanks to all of them, I am home and on my way to recovery! 


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