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Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Any advice for an indecisive student?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7894points) March 25th, 2013

Hello everyone.
Where do I start? I’m approaching the end of my Junior year, and have the tough decisions to make.
I’ve narrowed it down to becoming a registered nurse or a medical technologist. Two different things in the same field. I know that I want to work in the medical field.
I love science, particularly chemistry. I don’t have a hard time dealing with people, and I would like to be part of patient care, but I think that maybe I’m too introverted. I’m thinking and imagining patient scenarios of where I would have to console and be able to comfort effectively, and I know that I am not good at that at all.
If it’s any indication, my MBTI is INTJ. I like to help people, but I don’t know if I would be sufficiently equipped to develop a good patient-nurse relationship with patients. That’s where my love of science comes in to save me from that in the medical technology department.
I can’t even decide which I would like more.
Registered nursing is in demand, and I know it is a job I would like. It doesn’t really seem like Medical Technologists are in demand and I think in this economy, it’s important for future students/workers to look at job prospects. I hate going into things without a full scope of view. I mean, I’m not looking to get rich or achieve some kind of high status, I just want to have a job that I enjoy and will yield sufficient money to be able to live in this country where the cost of living is on the up and up and up.
I guess I’m writing this because I’d like advice to help me decide.
OR, even better, how did you make your decision to get into the field you’re currently in? Did you go by passion or cash prospects alone?

Thank you for listening to me rant about this. Sorry about all the writing.

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15 Answers

bookish1's avatar

Hey, good for you for putting so much thought into this. Many students graduate college still not having really thought about their strengths and interests, what their vision of ‘the good life’ is, and where they will be of most use.

Nursing definitely sounds like a high-demand field, but I think you’re right that introverts might not be best suited for it. Having been in the hospital many times myself, I can attest that the nurse-patient relationship is very important. Is there some sort of behind-the-scenes, maybe administrative stuff that you could do in the nursing field instead? I have no idea what a Medical Technologist is, so I can’t speak to that option. Is that a job title by itself, or more a category within which there are different specialties?

Do you have any contacts in either of these two target fields with whom you could speak? Are there professors of nursing who could give you some insights on how emotionally demanding the job is? I think mentors are very important, and I would not have gotten where I am today without them.

Speaking of which, as I am going to be (gods willing) an academic in history, in a society indifferent at best to history, and an economy downright hostile to the humanities in general, I made my decision based on passion. So far, I’ve made it work. My vision of the good life is to be able to teach, study topics that are important to me, and have a job and health insurance. I often second-guess my decision, as is very common for people in graduate school, but I couldn’t see myself being happier in any other field, and I think my skills are well suited to what I am doing right now. I’m an introvert as well, but a social one, and I don’t really have any practical skills except for writing, and I think I am pretty good at teaching as well and take it very seriously.

Wish I had more practical advice to give you, but I’m not a very practical person. But I think it would be excellent if you could find some contacts or mentors in these fields that interest you, and try to get an inside view on what you might be doing for the rest of your life.

Best of luck to you.

Judi's avatar

Don’t both fields have a lot of the same prerequisites? Why don’t you focus on those and get a better feel for what both jobs are like while you’re studying? I’m assuming you’re a Jr in High School right? Most people change their minds several times between now and when they graduate college. You might be studying and realize you are fascinated by a completely different field of science that you haven’t even heard of yet.
You are entering a stage of self discovery and self identification. Don’t pressure yourself to much to decide your entire future. If you close to many doors you might deny yourself an opportunity of a lifetime.

zenvelo's avatar

I don’t have a strong recommendation to you other than that a Med Tech is often off in a lab somewhere and not interacting with people. But I won’t discount your ability to communicate with patients. You already have demonstrated enough empathy in your question, and I think over time you will be great at it because you speak from a place of honest compassion.

CWOTUS's avatar

The best performers in nearly any field of endeavor will nearly always find profitable employment in their field, no matter how arcane. To use the age-old metaphor for switching from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, for example, there is still a need for buggy whip makers – and at least one company that employs them.

So I’d recommend that you focus less on “the whole market” and more on “what do I want to excel in?”, and then excel in that field. Somewhat paradoxically, it also helps to generalize a bit, so that when the employment market changes, as it certainly will for those just starting careers now, then it’s easier to make cross-connections and job hops to other positions in the same industry, and even totally different occupations in unrelated industries and markets.

I think that as long as you do good, then you’ll also do well.

livelaughlove21's avatar

It sounds like you’re leaning more toward the RN track. Don’t be concerned about being a bit introverted. If you like being around people and helping them, feeling comfortable being in these situations will come with time. The more you’re in that role, the easier it’ll become until it’s second nature.

I think it’s great that you’re putting so much thought into this at your age. I, too, had my future all planned out by my junior year in high school. You may not think so now, but these plans may change. I went into the nursing program right away and, three semesters into my clinical rotation, I was miserable. I hated going to work at the hospital, being around the patients got nerve wracking, constantly cleaning up feces, blood, and vomit was taking its toll on me, and I couldn’t see myself doing the job of a nurse for my whole life – or ever, for that matter.

Now, I’m not saying this will happen to you. Nursing is a great profession if your heart is in it, but you won’t know whether or not it truly is until you experience it. I liked science, the medical field fascinated me, I was constantly watching medical tv shows, and I thought with certainty that nursing was what I wanted to do. In the end, I didn’t want to enter the medical field at all.

Money and job outlook were important to me, too, and nurses do get paid well and get to enjoy job security. However, it’s only worth it if you’re cut out for nursing. Some are, some aren’t.

What I’m saying is that most students change their major at least once, and I’d argue that not many graduates enter the field they thought they would be back in high school. You’ll change a lot between now and the time you graduate from college. Enroll in the nursing program and see how you like it. If you love it, stick with it. If you don’t, don’t be afraid to get out if it and pick something else. Life is too short to hate your job. Passion breeds success, and the money will follow.

I’m now a college senior about to graduate with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. People are constantly telling me I should’ve stuck with nursing, that I won’t be able to find work after graduation, and that I’ll never make any money. But you know what? I’m happy, I’m learning about things I’m passionate about, and I’m really excited about going into the Criminal Justice field, preferably probation and parole, in just a few months. So I won’t start off at $50K a year, big deal. I’ll be doing something I enjoy, and that’s all that matters. I’ve always been very driven and ambitious, and I will prove the naysayers wrong. It’s all about making the degree work for you.

Judi's avatar

@livelaughlove21, come to CA after you graduate. If you can get a job with corrections here you WILL make at least 50k when you graduate. The only problem is that we are in the middle of a budget crunch so getting hired might be tough for the next year or two. We are digging out though.

YARNLADY's avatar

Try finding a volunteer position in one and then the other. That way you can safely try each one out while you are still in training.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Judi When you compare the starting salary and the cost of living in Cali versus the same information here in SC, it adds up to the same thing. Low cost of living, lower salaries.

Judi's avatar

@livelaughlove21, not necessarily. If you’re willing to live in Delano where one of the prisons is the cost of housing is very cheap. Even if you commute from Bakersfield it’s cheap. I’m in the apartment business and I have 3 bedroom 2 bath 1400 square foot apartments for just around 1000 a month in a very nice area of town. We have a lot of correctional officers living there but most don’t stay long because its so affordable to buy a house. The numbers they scare you with are Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and the Bay Area. The Central Valley where most of the prisons are is pretty affordable.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Judi Interesting. If I were to move anywhere, it would be Charlotte, NC, but my husband’s job is here so we’re staying put. We live in a 2000 square foot house with a yard and a pool for under $800/month, and I don’t do apartment living. But thanks for the info, regardless. :)

augustlan's avatar

What about being a surgical nurse? You’d still be helping people, but not interacting with them so much. Well, while they’re awake, anyway. :p

I do agree with others who’ve said you have time to explore and decide. Get your prerequisites out of the way, volunteer or shadow a professional in each field you’re considering, and decide on the specifics later. Best of luck!

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Judi They do have similar prerequisites. I might do that. Many nursing programs for Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees are very competitive in NY. That’s why I’m trying to be resolute in my decision.
@livelaughlove21 You’re right. Plans do change, I hate that, but I know it happens. Thank you for your advice! :)
@augustlan I did think about being a surgical nurse. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pick and choose what kind of nursing job I’d want though. Hopefully I’ll be able to shadow some people.
@zenvelo How did I demonstrate empathy? I’ve been told I’m not very empathetic at all.

Thank you all for your advice!

Cupcake's avatar

I worked as a cardiovascular technologist for a handful of years after getting my bachelors degree (it was all on-the-job training). It was super interesting and well paying work. There are many options for medical tech… not just in a lab.

Most new nursing jobs require day/evening/night rotations, which is what kept me from going to nursing school. Plus, being an introvert for me means that I can’t interact with people all day long. I need down time.

I’d encourage you to look at job postings and get an idea of what you like. Print them out and keep a file. Contact some people and ask to shadow for a day.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Cupcake Cool. What was your degree? Medical Technology (or Clinical Lab Science) is its own Bachelor’s of Science Degree. Do you need a separate one for cardiology?
I like the options for medical technologists, I could even work in a university as one, not only in hospitals.
Trust me, I look at job postings all the time. I’ll keep a file like you suggested.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Doubts are a good thing to have!
It is telling you that you have not found what you are desiring in a Career yet.
Delay decisions until ALL doubts disappear.
What are you passionate about?
What have yu dreamed of doing all your life?
If not sure..perhaps not enough life experience to find what you do not want as well as what you want yet?

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