Mid-career switches could help ease nursing shortages, nurses say

The nurse shortage could find aid in an unlikely place: midcareer switches from other professions, the Commercial Appeal reported March 16.

Two nurses at Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett (Tenn.) shared their stories of changing careers after having exposure to the emergency department.

Audrey Mills, the emergency department manager at the hospital, was studying to be a physician, then decided to work with animals instead. After several years working at a zoo, Ms. Mills fell in love with the emergency room where her grandmother worked as a nurse. Meanwhile, Cary Hamilton, also a nurse in the Saint Francis emergency department, left the automotive world for nursing school after suffering a heart attack. 

Ms. Mills and Mr. Hamilton have been with the hospital for nine and eight years, respectively, and they encourage others to switch to nursing.

For people worried about leaving their current career, nursing is a stable job with opportunities anywhere in the world, Ms. Mills told the Commercial Appeal. Nurses work in different roles inside hospitals and clinics, but other places, such as schools, also need nurses. And with the continual growth of telehealth, some nurses are now able to work from home.

Mr. Hamilton noted that many skill sets can carry over from other careers, such as reading body language and nonverbal cues. At the end of the day, an abundance of opportunities exist in the nursing field and many more nurses are needed, he said.

"I would like people to know that … you can make a difference in people's lives," Ms. Mills said. "We have to have healthcare; without it we're in a lot of trouble. So we definitely need more nurses."

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