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I’m ready for something less strenuous than bedside nursing. Any suggestions?


Dear Donna,

I started being a pre-nurse so to speak at 14. My brother went into a wheelchair from muscular dystrophy. I got my AAS in 1980 and worked in hospitals and then nursing homes from 1987 to 1999 part time to raise our three daughters. From 2000 to 2006, I worked in a vent unit. In between, I tried being a visiting nurse and found I do not like working alone. I’m now in a fast-paced rehab unit at a hospital (but still not as fast and short staffed as the regular floors, though now its been hard as we have no DON or secretary).

I’ve been through a lot of life. I lost my mom and sis to breast cancer and a brother to AIDS all within a few years. In 2000, I was diagnosed with MS.

I’m tired of taking care of people — both physically and mentally. After a long day, my body just aches, and my feet are numb. My body looks like a pincushion after seven years of shots every other night, and I’m only 48! I feel like I really don’t have much left to give. If I could earn as much (or similar) money doing something else, I’d leave nursing tomorrow. My MS is stable, and I do see a therapist. But short-term memory loss and being unable to think straight when tired upsets me and deflates my confidence. (This is also why going back to school isn’t a good idea.)

I do not feel I’m dangerous to my patients. I disclosed my MS diagnosis to a few peers, and they feel I’m pulling my load very well. I only work three days a week. I still need to earn good money (I make 32$ /hour now). I would even consider working more hours at a less strenuous job. My children’s college tuition is looming!


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Janet,

You certainly have had, and still have, a lot on your shoulders. I’m not surprised that you’re tired and feeling like you don’t have much to give. You’ve been expending a huge amount of caregiving energy, not to mention grief, for years. You’re only human.

Fortunately you have plenty of options in nursing. Bedside nursing is not the only place to make “good money,” but you also have to consider your quality of life and health. It’s scary to make changes, but change can lead to growth and other rewards. Obviously you’re ready for a change (and clearly need a change for many different reasons) or you wouldn’t have written to me.

To start exploring your options, I recommend that you get out to Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek Career Fairs in your area. These are great venues to meet nontraditional employers and speak to nursing agency representatives, many of whom place nurses in nontraditional positions. See what’s coming up in your area at Read the article “How to Get the Most Out of Attending a Career Fair” at

You should consider attending my upcoming Career Alternatives for Nurses® seminar in Atlantic City, N.J., on March 10. Find out more at It’s the perfect jumping off point for you. You’ll learn about transferable skills, sources of job openings and opportunities beyond the classified ads, Top-notch self-marketing skills and so much more. If you can’t get to the event, the seminar is available in a home study version at and

See the article “First Things First” at You’ve got to take care of yourself or everything will fall apart. And if you haven’t already, be sure to visit, where you can connect with other nurses with disabilities.

My best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum’s “Dear Donna” and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call (800) 866-0919 or visit


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By | 2008-02-26T00:00:00-05:00 February 26th, 2008|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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