Career Notes: Registered Nurse



I remember when I was in high school and college, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. I would scour the internet, researching the different types of professions out there. As a 24 year old, I am still searching for what I want to do when I grow up. :-) It is for this reason that I am introducing a new series: Career Notes.

I met Dacia J. in high school and now she’s a Registered (traveling) Nurse. Check out her Career Notes on being a nurse.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Dacia and I am a registered nurse. I’ve worked in a few different specialties which include GYN (gynecology)/oncology and surgical oncology, hospice, and my current specialty, labor and delivery. I have been a nurse for five years.

What lead you to become a Registered Nurse?

To be quite honest, when applying for college, I really had no clue of what I wanted to do. I knew I liked science and the human body but I didn’t know which career to pick. A friend of mine, suggested that we should be “nurses that help with the mothers and babies” and I thought…sure, why not? I never even knew what nurses did but we applied to a nursing program and got accepted.

Did you always think you would become a Nurse?

Not at all. Like I stated above, I never had a true idea of what I wanted to do. I always thought about being a doctor, but it wasn’t one of those life long dreams or callings, more so just an interest. I never felt compelled to be or do any one thing, and that was a large part of the difficulty in me figuring out where to apply for school and for what program.

Describe your average day at work. Do you work a 9-5?

Well, I work 3 nights a week and 12 hours each shift, 7 pm-7 am. The three days can be any three days that I choose. I arrive to work and change into my scrubs and I get a report from the day shift nurse on my patient. I usually have one or two patients depending on the amount of patients on the unit. After report, I go and perform a head to toe assessment on my patient and see if she or her family needs anything. Afterward, I begin my computer charting for the shift. I constantly monitor the fetal heart rate and the mothers contractions throughout the shift on a monitor. From there, I perform different tasks depending on how the needs of the patient changes. Pain medications, assisting with epidural placement, vaginal exams, helping the patient push or assisting with vaginal or cesarean delivery are all things I may be doing during the course of a shift.

What was your educational path? Did you need formal education, certificates, and/or training to do your job?

I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Delaware in 2011. Afterward I took the NCLEX which is the license exam to become a registered nurse. I am also certified in BLS (basic life support), ACLS (advanced cardiovascular life support), NRP (neonatal resuscitation provider), and Intermediate fetal monitoring. All of which are necessary to be a labor and delivery nurse. There are associates degree that can prepare nurses but most hospitals are now pushing for all nurses to be bachelors prepared.

What courses in high school and college help you in your job today?

Definitely biology, medical surgical nursing, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. Mainly just the college courses prepared me for my career.

How much money can one expect to earn in your position?

Well in the state of Maryland when I graduated in 2011, new grads were making between $45,000-$50,000 a year. Seasoned/veteran nurses and depending on the specialty can make up to $75,000-$80,000+. This is not including the advanced degree prepared nurses such as nurse anesthetists, midwives, and nurse practitioners.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I would have to say helping these moms bring life into the world. It’s amazing each and every time.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Dealing with loss or other unfavorable outcomes such as maternal or fetal injury or fetal birth defects . Also, the emotional and mental aspect of the job can be draining at times.

What advice would you give someone looking to become a Registered Nurse?

Definitely do well in high school and in your sciences. Shadow a nurse for a day if you can. Apply to a good nursing program and get good grades because nursing and the job market can be very competitive.

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