My Education: ADN, Nursing, Shoreline Community College (Shoreline, WA?) BA, Sociology, University of Washington
My Prior Experience: I worked as a Nurse Technician on a trauma orthopedics floor at a regional trauma center while in nursing school. I also volunteered in an office for an organization that promotes breast feeding.
My Company: I work in a maternity center at a private hospital in a suburb of Seattle.
Job/Career Overview: I work as a nurse in a busy maternity center. The first area I was trained in was post-partum. This is the period from 2 hours after delivery of a baby until the patient goes home, somewhere between 24-72 hours after delivery. During this time I help ensure that the mom is physically stable, that she doesn't bleed excessively, have too much pain, nausea, or any signs of infection and that she recovers from any surgery or anesthesia that she may have had. I am also responsible for the well-being of the infant, making sure it is transitioning well to life outside the womb, that it breathes normally and has an appropriate body temperature. Most babies and moms need help learning how to breast feed too, so I also help with that.
After studying post-partum, I learned how to help a woman through labor and delivery, which requires a familiarity with the methods nurses use to ease the pain of contractions: things like warm showers or baths, focusing on breathing or walking the hallways of the hospital. I am responsible for making sure that a woman does not have too many contractions (or too few either), and that the baby's heartbeat remains stable during her labor. This is done with monitors placed on the woman's abdomen. I also help the doctor with the delivery and help the baby with breathing if necessary immediately after birth. I also support women in the operating room who need a cesarean section delivery.
And then there's ante-partum care. Ante-partum means "pre-delivery" or pregnant, and encompasses anything women go through before labor starts. These patients have usually been hospitalized with complications, such as pre-term labor or high blood pressure, and need special medications and close monitoring of the baby to keep them pregnant till they're ready to deliver.
More Insights: One misconception is that men can't be nurses! A lot of male nurses work in the emergency room or in other "trauma" related areas, such as flight nursing or post-surgical units.
Nursing is also a very versatile field. You can work in a school, a doctor's office, a hospital (in many different areas - operating room, emergency room, oncology floor, labor and delivery floor, etc.) or even in a medical tent in a war zone.
Another opportunity you can have as a nurse is to volunteer for medical teams that help in disaster areas, like helping with the earthquake victims of Haiti, or the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
The best part of my job is knowing I am a part of making a special day -- the birth of a new baby -- even more special by helping a woman get through the pain of labor; or teaching new parents how to care for their new baby; or helping a woman stay pregnant for one or two more weeks.
The worst part of my job is having to help families whose baby has died or will die after birth. It is sad for everyone involved, including the nurse and doctor.
If you are interested in helping other people, nursing may be the career for you. You may want to volunteer at a hospital or job shadow a nurse for a day or two. I would also take anatomy and physiology classes if possible and see if you are interested in the human body and how it works. Don't worry if you don't like the sight of blood or needles, there are plenty of nurses who don't!