Finding the right job can have a big impact on your life. Being stuck in a job that doesn’t make the most of your skills, pays poorly, or isn’t a good fit for your personality can make you feel like you’re not where you belong. Whereas, being in a job that aligns with who you are, enables you to pay your bills, and allows your talents to be put to good use can give you a real sense of accomplishment.
If you are compassionate, naturally curious, and enjoy helping others, you might want to look into nursing–especially if you love living in inland Mendocino County. May 6-12 is Nurses Week, and I am here to tell you why I think nursing is the best job in the world.
Your Work Makes a Difference
First and foremost, nurses make a significant difference in people’s lives every day. As a nurse, you never have to ask yourself, “Does my work even matter?” You know it does. You can measure the improvements in your patients’ health, and even when there’s nothing more to be done for a patient’s physical health, your care and compassion can provide emotional healing and comfort.
For me, the best part of nursing is spending meaningful time with patients, developing relationships with them and their families. I’ve had the privilege to care for pregnant moms, then care for their babies and watch them grow into squirrely, wonderful kids. When I see them in the grocery store, I can’t believe how they’ve grown.
It’s not always easy. Actually, sometimes it is really hard. Every day is different. But I like challenges and I like variety. I explored other careers. For example, in high school I started as an explorer firefighter with the City of Ukiah. I loved going on the ambulance and helping people. But after we dropped off patients at the hospital, I never knew what happened to them. It drove me crazy. I wanted to make sure they were okay, that they made it.
I chose to work in primary care because it lets me support patients throughout their lives. Here at MCHC Health Centers, we provide care from in-utero until the end of life.
Complete Education Locally
Another reason nursing was a great option for me was because I could complete my training and find a great career here in my community. There are several pathways to becoming a nurse.
If you know you want to be a licensed nurse, you can go straight from high school to Mendocino College and enroll in pre-requisite classes to prepare for the two-year registered nursing program–or you can choose a four-year university nursing program out of the area. However, if you’re not sure about nursing or if you need to work while you complete your training, other options exist.
If you want to dip your toe in to see if healthcare is a good fit for you, you can spend a few months completing a medical assistant program. MCHC Health Centers works in partnership with the Mendocino County Office of Education, bringing medical assistant students into our facilities so they can shadow working professionals.
The medical assistant training program is a two-semester course that includes front office skills such as communication, billing, making appointments, medical terminology, and understanding the legal obligations of medical professionals, as well as clinical (back office) training, such as anatomy, physiology, rooming patients, injections, and assisting the medical provider. After working as an MA, you may choose to become a licensed nurse: either a licensed vocational nurse or a registered nurse.
Visit the Mendo-Lake Adult Career and Education (MLACE) to see all the medical pathways available locally at mendolakeace.org/medical-certificate-programs. Scholarships are often available for those in need.
Plenty of Variety
The great thing about being a nurse, in addition to all the things I already mentioned, is that it’s a career that can grow with you. You can start as a medical assistant with important but limited responsibility. Then you can become a licensed vocational nurse with a broader scope of responsibility, and eventually, you may choose to become a registered nurse who make more complicated decisions about patient care and work in even closer partnership with medical providers.
You can also change your work environment as your needs change. Maybe as a younger person, you’d like the high-paced action of a hospital emergency department, or you wouldn’t mind working nights in a hospital ward. Eventually, if you choose to have a family, you might want a schedule that matches your children’s, so you may decide to work in a doctor’s office or clinic setting, where you can work Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Or, maybe you love working with older adults, so you spend your whole career in a skilled nursing facility. The options are endless.
All I can say is that if you are interested in helping others and you’d like an incredibly rewarding career, I strongly recommend nursing.
Jasmin Pintane, MSN, RN, PHN is the director of nursing at MCHC Health Centers—a local, non-profit, federally qualified health center offering medical, dental, and behavioral health care to people in Lake and Mendocino Counties.