News travels fast; I’ve been getting phone calls in these past few days from friends that I know in the industry, as well as from recruiters. When I made my career move from nursing to research and drug development, it seemed that the pharmaceutical industry was a safe career to be in. This was at a time where layoffs were hitting the computer industry HARD in our area. I have since become accustomed to the lifestyle that I now have since leaving bedside nursing. It has been about 6 years since I have made this career change. While I do miss my patients, I also enjoy this relatively new way of life.
I can remember back to the days of nursing. Things were very different for me and my family in those 12 plus years. It’s the things like being about to have both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off that I would give up if I returned to nursing. I cannot tell you how many times Santa has had to come to our house early just so I could get up on Christmas morning for the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift. Prior to that, there was many a Christmas Eve where I would work 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. only to come home exhausted and struggle to watch the kids open their presents. That was when I worked Pediatric Intensive Care. When I worked in Home Health, I had to provide end of life care to 3 of my kids on one single Christmas weekend. I was numb by the time I arrived at my sister’s house for dinner. It didn’t even register when they were singing Happy Birthday to me. But missing the holidays was not the worst of it.
As a Home Health nurse, I drove to my patients homes to basically teach their parents how to nurses for their children. As a pediatric nurse, most of my patients had private insurance. Their insurance would only cover a few nursing visits to teach things such as how to administer antibiotics into the view using a portable IV pump, care of a new central line for a newly diagnosed cancer patient, or complex wound care. The pediatric patients were just enough to spread me thin and I would drive over 200 miles each day to complete my visits. The driving, repetitive actions in some of the care that I provided regularly, and the use of a laptop created injuries in both of my wrists. It got to the point that I couldn’t pick up my own infant without it hurting. My arms got so weak that I was afraid that I would drop him. It hurt just to cradle him in my arms while breastfeeding him. It was time for a career change. It was a difficult decision to make for me as I loved my patients. I loved what I was doing and I felt that I was D@mn good at it.
In the process of making this career change, I found that people try to make judgments about who a person is by finding out what they do for a living. When you are a nurse, people think that is “good.” When you say that you work in the pharmaceutical industry, people don’t know what to think. Are you evil? Do you keep all that extra money that they charge for drugs now a day? Well, I can tell you that I am *not* evil; I’d like to think that I am still working for the patients. I work to get new drugs onto the market – to obtain the information that the FDA uses to determine if a drug is safe and if it works. There isn’t any immediate feedback. It is years in the process and so many drugs don’t make it. It certainly isn’t as rewarding as nursing was, but I have gotten used to my new life. I now have a life where I see my kids on the weekends and after school. At my current company, I have flexibility to be around more – to flex my time if I need to so that I can attend that play at school. Not all of my friends in this industry have it so well. My friend Cindy seems to be traveling ALL of the time. Now, as I consider changing companies I am forced to take another look at my career. I need to figure out what it is that I like doing the best. How could I make my job more enjoyable, or more rewarding? When I figure it out, then I can go for it.