Nursing a career

When I was a kid, a number of my friends and classmates said they wanted to be a nurse when the grew up. As it turns out, several of them did go on to become nurses. There were a couple of key moments growing up that confirmed for me that I probably couldn’t cut it as a nurse.

I panicked at the sight of blood. I didn’t get sick, mind you. But, I completely lost my head.

One summer I was babysitting my younger brother and sister while my mom worked. My brother was about five years old at the time. He had gone to a neighbor’s house to play with a friend in their back yard. They were playing on the playmate’s dad’s boat, even though they were not allowed. Little brother hurrying to disembark when they heard the dad’s car pull into the driveway, slid down the side of the fiberglass boat and scraped up his torso from chest to belly button. He ran home crying. My little guy was upset and crying. And bleeding just a little. There was a scratch, but mostly it was just superficial scrapes. But as nurse on duty, I wanted to calm him down and patch him up. I also wanted to stop any bleeding before Mama got home.

I don’t have the coolest head in a medical emergency. (Image:Pixabay)

I hosed him down with Bactine first aid spray and covered him with about a dozen Bandaids. He calmed down and started watching some kid show on TV. My mom was momentarily mortified when she saw all his bandages, until she looked under them and saw there wasn’t any real injury.

The second time I lost my head in a medical emergency was when I was a young teen, maybe 14, helping out at my church during Vacation Bible School. I was a helper in the first grade class. We were walking the group of kids down the hall either going to class or going to assembly. One of the more rambunctious boys was running ahead, not watching where he was going, naturally. There was a chalkboard on the wall and he ran smack into the metal chalkholder which was near eye-level to him. He bounced back and crumpled on the floor. He threw his hand over his face and blood was running down profusely. I froze. I thought he had gouged his eye out. Fortunately, the cut was just over his eyebrow. 

An adult teacher, an experienced mom, came over and scooped him up into her arms, pulled his t-shirt up to press against the bleeding. I was still in shock. She told me to run fetch his mother. This was a chore I could accomplish, so I did. But the momentary horror of thinking that little kid had poked his eye out has stayed with me.

I knew I’d never be a nurse, but am impressed with my friends who are able to take care of people who are hurting or ill. I’m especially proud of my niece Madeline. She’s still in nursing school, and is currently working an internship for the summer in the cardiac department at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. 

Fortunately, I always wanted to be a writer and ended up working many years as a newspaper reporter before turning to fiction. The only blood I have to deal with are the victims of my own making in my murder mysteries.

Do you remember which careers you and your friends contemplated in elementary school? Did you end up in the career you thought about back then? Share in the comments.

54 thoughts on “Nursing a career

  1. I wanted to be a secretary and I worked my way up to Executive Secretary to the Director of the Housing Authority. I graduated with 2 that became doctors. My best friend, Debbie, became a nurse’s aid which she loved.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Queen, I loved typing and business classes in high school! But I don’t think I’m organized enough to be a good secretary.

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  2. I thought I wanted to be a nurse. I actually went to nursing school. I found that I LOVED learning it, but did not like doing it at all. I was not squeamish at the sight of blood, but nasty smells send me running, and I gag if puking is involved in any way. I ended up finding my niche working in the Accounts Payable office at the large teaching hospital near us. I recently retired and I am taking each day one at a time, and my new endeavor is as a costumed interpreter at our local living history museum. I am in the “Singing School”. I sing and play piano for the choir. I LOVE it!!!!!
    Carol

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I can’t say anything about my young friends, because I was a loner when I was young and had no friends, we moved a lot).
    I wanted to be a nurse since I was little (except for a brief time when I considered becoming a nun). I always took care of everyone when they got hurt, cause I couldn’t stand seeing someone in pain and not help. I went so far as enrolling in college for a nursing degree. But somewhere during my education, I realized my weak stomach couldn’t handle the gore of the emergency room.
    So I dropped out and went into the military to figure out what to do with my life. One day I woke up and told my now ex-husband I wanted to be an accountant. I had no clue what an accountant was, and knew no one who was an accountant. I just wanted to be one.
    So after my stint was up, I went back to college to go to business school. Of course, during my studies I determined the two things I would never do was being an auditor or a tax accountant, because the classes were agony.
    Fast forward 12 years and I started my current year, doing the 2 things I swore I would never do. I’ve been doing them for 21 years and 2 weeks, and I absolutely love it.
    Just goes to show one never knows where life may lead you.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. One of the benefits of having a mother as a nurse: I was never freaked out by injuries. Bleeding? Apply pressure (note: head and scalp wounds always bleed worse than they actually are). Smack your head off the table? Ice. Roll an ankle? Ice and elevation. I’m so bad, I don’t seek treatment when I should (strained ACL from 10 years ago that was never treated finally caught up with me).

    The only career I remember wanting as a kid was to be a lawyer and that was when I was in middle school. I knew I didn’t want to follow my mother into the medical field. One day with an attorney seeing what they really do cured me of that. It’s not all Law & Order glamor. LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I wanted to be a vet when I was a kid, and I still skewed toward science and biology in high school. For a while, I was debating between going to medical school or being a research biologist–and then I took Organic Chemistry… Eventually, I made my way into the helping field and social work, while also writing on the side (when I had the time or energy). Happy to be able to fully devote my attention to artistic creativity now!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I had several friends who struggled with organic chemistry. Glad you found your way to writing as well as helping people in non-medical ways!

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      1. Yes! I’m happy to be writing. (I should mention that I always wanted to be a writer and even made up a pen name, but I never thought it could be an actual career.)

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  6. Thanks for the post, Vickie. It reminds us that we should listen to those inner voices, even (and maybe especially) when they speak to us in childhood.

    As a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I read voraciously–Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, Ken Holt, Tarzan, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I wanted to create stories like these and I did, handwritten in marble-backed copybooks. Then in high school, I discovered biology. I aced the class without hardly trying and decided I wanted to be a scientist. I followed that career into college and grad school and never looked back.

    I integrated writing into my scientific career by taking up tech writing and built a career as a science writer and data analyst. I read far less fiction, simply because it was hard to find the time, and when you spend your days reading and writing, the last thing you want to do is come home and do more of it.

    But now I’m “retired” and a full time fiction writer. I’ve published six novels in my Natalie McMasters Mysteries series, an H P Lovecraft pastiche novel, and a dozen Sherlock Holmes stories in anthologies. I’m working on the seventh Natalie book, bringing out a collection of my previously published Holmes stories and writing new ones. At 70, I’ve finally found my calling.

    Maybe I should have listened to that voice all those years ago.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It sounds like you did listen to that voice, Tom! Sometimes it just takes longer to get around to certain things than we thought it would!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I desperately wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t think I could handle the math. So, I dropped that down to nursing. I didn’t think I could handle the math! LOL! So, I obtained my EMT license. I was rather happy with that path until I was forced to “retire” early. I returned to college to finish my degree, I did that- I was chasing my elementary ed certificate too but was having more pain issues pop up, so I just took my degree and called it a day. Now I have the time to write. And read! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. No, you can put me in a room of blood to my waist and I won’t bat an eye. Yack on the other hand makes me dry heave. lol. Everyone has something that gives them the willies. EMTs, nurses, and docs are no different. I react first, and panic later. That’s pretty much with everything. But when I sit down to panic, I sure do that part well! LOL!

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  8. I wanted to grow up to own a horse ranch with Paul McCartney when I was about ten, but then he went and found Linda and THAT dream was quashed. Then I decided to be a rock star, but when that didn’t pan out, I became a lawyer, instead.

    But it is interesting how certain people know what they want to be when they grow up (in a realistic, non-Paul McCartney way), and then up doing exactly that. A nerdy guy I went to high school with was obsessed with conducting and always walked around campus with Mahler scores, and guess what? He’s now a well-respected conductor. (David Robertson, if you’re interested.)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. A conductor is a cool job! And you can casually mention to people sitting next to you at the symphony, “ I went to school with him!”
      And a being a lawyer, playing in a rock band and being an author are all impressive accomplishments.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Congratulations to your niece! As a kid, I wanted to be Emma Peel, but had no idea how to make that happen! So I told people I wanted to be a teacher or secretary. Luckily for me, there was an opening at my hometown newspaper when I was looking for a job and I moved into writing and editing. Still want to be Emma Peel, though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Shari! I’d love to be Emma Peel, too! Although, if they out out a casting call, I ‘d have a better chance at being Miss Marple. And I’d take it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Medical career was never for me, either. Accountant was never on my radar, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. The problem is, I don’t think anything would be any better for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Mark, you’re good at what you do, and sometimes that’s the best affirmation for our career choices. I think we’d both love to be able to read mysteries for a living, but haven’t found anyone willing to give us a paycheck for it!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Gosh. I always wanted to be a writer, I think. Maybe an artist, too, but I quickly outgrew any small talent I had in that area. I do remember that my female classmates and I in the late 60s/70s were told we could be ANYTHING we wanted, both career-wise and parent-wise. Because we’d come a long way, baby.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I always wanted to be a writer, too, Lisa! I was encouraged to find a career that provided a steady paycheck, so I majored in journalism. Being a reporter provided a paycheck. For my part, a small, but steady paycheck!

      Liked by 3 people

  12. My daughter-in-law-to-be starts her new nursing career in a few weeks at Johns Hopkins where she’ll be a pediatric surgical nurse. Very proud of her. Neither of us is squeamish and I love hearing her stories! Vickie, your story of your brother reminded me of me and my sister. I was a senior in high school, she was in 8th grade or so, and my parents had gone out of town for the weekend. Sis had a bike accident in the neighborhood, slicing open the bottom of her chin. She fell in front of some stranger’s house, and the guy walked her and her bike home. It would NOT stop bleeding! I had her sit with a washcloth pressed to it while we played Monopoly, hoping my parents would come home soon so she didn’t croak on my watch. [Spoiler alert—she didn’t.] When they got home 8 hours later (!!) they took her to the ER where she got two layers of stitches. Egads.

    I was always envious of people who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up because I didn’t. Until, that is, one of my friends went all through med school and hated being a doctor, which I thought was tragic.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Becky, you controlled the bleeding, which was key. Stitches were clearly beyond your job as a babysitter! I think the kid at church ended up with a couple of stitches — but I was scarred for life!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I do make her show me her scar every so often. She also needed stitches in her knee as a kid and now that scar is mid-thigh. That never fails to amuse me.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Vickie, love this post. I so admire anyone in the medical field, especially nurses. They do so much to help and support you when you’re in the hospital. For me, the only career ever on my radar was one in the arts. I was an outlier in my HS, which literally sent 25% of our graduating class to Ivy League schools. (Scarsdale HS). I was such an outlier that I graduated in 3 years. I’ve only gone to one reunion – my 10th – but pretty much everyone did what I expected. lawyers, doctors, executives. I’d had my first plays published and produced, so I was pretty excited about that. But Martha Stewart’s first book, ENTERTAINING had just come out and all anyone asked me about was my picture standing next to her dressed like the cater-waiter I was at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ellen, that’s because you knew someone famous, and I think most of us find that fascinating! And you went on to work with many well-known folks on popular TV shows. That’s exciting to the rest of us with “regular” jobs.

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  14. AARGH, I wrote a long comment, and it seems to have not posted.
    Here’s a shorter version.

    Vickie: I spent many, many hours from the age of 4-7 waiting in hospital corridors as my mom finished her kidney dialysis treatment 3 times a week. After she got a kidney transplant, we visited the same hospital only once a month. I briefly thought about being a life-saving surgeon but quickly found my true career path at the age of 10. In grade 4 social studies class, I was introduced to geography. I loved maps & studying far-away places, cultures and people. In junior high school, I learned that a geographer was an actual occupation and started focusing my studies until I entered the geograpby/environmental studies program at the University of Waterloo, I had several interesting co=op work term positions with both the federal & provincial governments. I then got a full-time position with Environment Canada in 1990 where I spent the majority of my career as a climatologist turned climate change researcher. My final position was as a strategic planner for the National Hydrologic Service in Ottawa until I retired in 2016.

    My parents were never big-time travellers & did not understand my love of geography & virual/real-life travel wanderlust but I am glad I figured it out.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow, Grace! It’s cool that you landed on a somewhat unusual career choice at such a young age. And you still helped people, just in a different way than a doctor or nurse!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks, Vickie & Jen! Yes, I got a lot of strange looks from people when I told them I was a geographer. Most popular questions I got were: Do you teach children the capital cities in the world, or the longest rivers? Geography was a bridge between arts & science & gave me a global view to work on environmental issues.

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  15. I was 10 when I decided that I wanted to be a NICE librarian in a small school library. I have no clue why I chose small, but I know that it was the wonderful librarians and library aides that I encountered in our many moves that made me choose school or public librarian. At that time, I doubt I was aware of all the other options in the field. Of my 33 years in education, I spent 27 as a full time or part time librarian. The last six were at a fairly large elementary library, but before that most of the schools I worked in had under 1000 students, some under 500. I am not sure that I maintained the nice standard but kids seem to enjoy me for the most part so I will claim full achievement.

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    1. Librarians have always played an important role in my life! Thank you for the difference you’ve made in so many children’s lives, Jeanie!

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  16. BACTINE!! Oh, does that bring me back. What a great post! And big cheers to all our healthcare heros! ❤

    Jen and I are veterinary-dreaming twins! I very much wanted to professionally pat puppies on their wee little heads then send them off with some kind of beef-flavored healing treat. When I found out that's not exactly what veterinarians do–and that there was a lot of maths involved in the schooling bit–I eased up on that accelerator. It all worked out, though. This month marks my 25th year as a copywriter!

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    1. I was always jealous of people whose mothers cared for them with Bactine. My mom was more of the “You’re fine. Rub some dirt on it” kind of mom. When I was an adult I found out she wanted to be a nurse. I bet she woulda used Bactine on them! Pfft.

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      1. Haha, Becky!! Your mom may have been right! I had a doctor friend who was a big believer in “good clean dirt.” My mom was also a fan of hydrogen peroxide. The bubbles and stinging just meant that it was working!

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  17. I first wanted to be the ticket seller at a movie theatre as my father managed four of them and I used to help out! Ha! Later I wanted to be a teacher and I used to line up and teach all of my stuffed animals from my roll top desk with a bell and all of them sitting in chairs. I even had a chalkboard to help them with their cursive and printing of letters. I ended up being a teacher for 38 1/2 years.

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  18. Madeline, I love that you lined up your stuffed animals as students. I’m only slightly jealous that you had a roll top desk! Congrats on your teaching career — what an important job!

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