Wednesday, November 8, 2006

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Do you remember being asked that question as a kid? Did you have the same answer every time? Did it change as you grew? What happened when you graduated from High School? Did you confidently stride into the post-secondary institution you carefully chose and work on a major that you loved from the start? Did you enter the workforce for a while to mull over your options and gain some life experience?

I am going to tell you what I did. I graduated from High School, took a year off to fry burgers and make milkshakes at a department store cafeteria. I then moved away to the not-so Big City and promptly partied my way out of a first year of university. I was going to be a teacher. Instead of going to class I became News Editor of the school paper and learned to support a pack-a-day cigarette habit by using my womanly wiles. (I later married the man who gave me the cigarettes...thanks, hon!)I floundered around for a year, almost starving and working a minimum of three jobs at a time to pay rent.

I then got it into my head I wanted to be a nurse. The University wouldn't take me back--flunking out on academic suspension will do that. To Community College I went. A short year and a half later I was a newly minted LPN, licence in my hand and my head full of the new-nurse idealism that I could heal the world.

Flash forward 8 years to the present where I am a happy wife and stay-at-home mom and Sunday School Superintendant with a severe case of disillusionment towards my chosen profession. They are making it harder and harder for me to do my job. There are levels of bureaucracy and layers of red tape to sift through to get to what I love: caring for patients and making a difference in a person's life. (OK, so the idealism is still there, but buried now). I am staring at a folder that tells me I must submit proof of continuing learning. I have to submit a portfolio every year and fill out questionnaires. If I don't they won't give me the piece of paper I need to work in a place where everyone is burnt out and mean and tired. I hate being forced to do this. I hate that there is a forest worth of trees gone because of all the paper I have to wade through as well as all the paper the rest of the LPNs in my province have to wade through. I feel like I have to do this to justify a bureaucrat's job in some office somewhere--not to further the pursuit of professional excellence. I hate that I am being treated like an RN and in some cases being expected to do more than an RN without the pay an RN gets.

Where does this leave me? I don't see myself continuing a career in nursing anymore. I don't know what else I would do if I wasn't one. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up anymore.


Anonymous said...

So I'm thinking your essay should say exactly what you said right here. Without the 'no more career' part. If you really don't want the career and they don't renew, you're no worse off. If they do renew you, you can still resign, right? Either way, you'll wake up someone who was expecting to read yet another boring personal essay. :)


Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, my dad is almost 55, retired, and still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. But he's enjoying the ride.