[Thanks to NB for sharing an informational interview report on how to become a registered nurse and related career information.]
For my interview I had first decided that I was going to interview my aunt, but since she was unable to fit it into her schedule, she told me to call my hospital and ask to set up an interview with a registered nurse for a school project. So I did the very next day and got an appointment with an RN. I had talked to the RN on the phone, and she sounded totally cool about the interview and seemed more excited then I was. I have to admit I was a bit nervous since I have never interviewed anyone I didn’t know. I had gathered up the courage to follow through with the interview, and was truly happy that I did!
When I first showed up, I arrived about 15 minutes early to be prepared and give her time to let her know I was there but was in no rush. At first impression she was a very nice and friendly person with a big personality, which I loved. We then went back into her office and sat down and started the interview. Here is what was said:
NB: What is your job title and what is the name of the company/organization?
RN: I am a Registered Nurse at [a large hospital]. I work in the Non-Stress/Fetal Heart Rate Testing Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
NB: What are your responsibilities?
RN: I have to hook the patient up to monitors, read the graph to make sure the baby’s heart rate is beating regular with no stress, making sure blood pressure for mom and baby are regular. Then reporting all information back to OBGY to work together and come up with solutions for patients.
NB: How long have you been doing this job?
RN: I have been a Registered Nurse for 25 years total. But most of those years I worked in Labor and Delivery.
NB: Briefly, can you let me know how you got to where you are today?
RN: I started off working in a rural city in California as a Labor and Delivery nurse and got all of my years of experience doing that, but once I started a family I couldn’t work the hours that the occupation demanded of me. So I switched to a new position, Monday through Fridays, at a bigger hospital.
NB: What is a typical day like?
RN: I have 7 patients in the morning and 7 patients in the afternoon. They are each supposed to only take about 20 minutes but with complications they take much longer and create overlapping schedules and basically chaos. But that’s okay with me because I tend to work more efficiently in a faster chaotic pace.
NB: What skills are required for your job?
RN: Being able to work with people is most important but second in importance would have to be school and getting your degree and then specializing in what department you work in. Takes lots of time.
NB: What activities do you enjoy doing the most? What are 3 things that you enjoy most about working at your company/organization?
RN: My top 3 activities that I enjoy most would be number one working with patients, teaching them how to have a healthy life and just giving them the knowledge that I have. Second, the continuity of seeing different patients. And third, I just really love maternal health and the nurturing part of things. The reading of the monitor and doing IVs come natural now.
NB: What is the greatest challenge of this job? What are the 3 most challenging aspects of working at your company/organization?
RN: From working in Labor and Delivery it was such a fast pace environment and you never knew what was going to happen next, and now working in non-stress and having a set schedule was a huge change. I missed the chaos in labor and delivery. Now working 9-5 it can become very slow at times with loss of patients and hard to keep myself on my toes when nothing is coming in.
NB: What skills are the most important for you to learn to be successful in this career?
RN: You must be passionate and genuine. Both are those things you can’t teach. But then you of course have to learn your skill, in which specialty of nursing best suits you.
NB: What professional organization would you recommend that I check out to learn more about this career?
RN: Specifically for becoming a registered nurse, school is most important. I myself went to San Jose State and truly loved the environment and would recommend it to anyone who wanted a career in becoming an RN. For me personally it took 5 years to complete school, but during school I recommend that you go to as many hospitals as you can and get as much experience as possible because that is what’s key to becoming a registered nurse: experience.
NB: If I wanted to start in this career area, how would you recommend that I go about it?
RN: School, that’s where you start you have to get your BSN, and as much experience as you can.
NB: What kind of opportunities are there for advancement, and how would one qualify?
RN: There are many opportunities to advance once you have your BSN. You get to see what department best fits you, and if you are inclined to higher pay, you can always go into management. Depending what department you’re in, you can specialize or go back to school and become a nurse physician, where you write your own medicine prescriptions for patients and get paid lots more.
NB: What advice would you give to me in regard to my career direction? Or, if you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you have done differently?
RN: Truthfully if I could do this all over again, I don’t think I would have done much different, but my advice to you is go straight for your BSN. If you go just for an associates degree you tend to get held back a lot more with that, and you start to lose your drive. Also stay in touch with nursing: new classes, new technology and learn/absorb as much as you can about what you want in nursing.
NB: Can you tell me more about the actual nursing school, and if it was hard to get in to? How much did you have to pay? Different from now and then?
RN: Yes if was very hard to get into the program. You really have to maintain a good GPA and make sure you have your pre-req classes. Nowadays teachers of nursing school get paid more for actually working in the field rather then teaching, so not enough space for students to all enter. I know now that the nursing program ranges from 16,000-19,000 a year, and back when I went to school it was only about 5,000-10,000 if I remember correctly.
What my interviewee also added was that there are levels in nursing but to get to those levels it takes a lot of time and experience and believe it or not she’s only at level 2 but working for level 3. Her family is what held her back. Also hospitals like higher level nurses. I mentioned to her that I wanted to go into Flight Nurse, and she let me know that that also requires experience, probably 2 years in trauma/ER, and 2-3 years in surgery, and then once I have experience I’ll be able to advance to flight nurse and then go to training for helicopter school.
After this interview, it truly motivated me to strive even more for what I want in life. I truly fell in love with everything she told me. I would say that I knew only about half of the information she gave me, and the other half was completely new to me. But I love to learn so it was really nice to have questions answered that I had unanswered for a long time. I also chose not to ask my interviewee what her salary is, so I did some research via the internet, and I found that a registered nurse in California can range from $64,888 to $90,811. But to determine what exactly you will be getting paid is based on the experience you have and what you specialize in.
In conclusion to this interview I think that this learning experience really left a positive impression on me. Even though I know I have a long ways to go, I’m pretty sure that in the end it will all pay off. The RN that I interviewed seemed to really love her job and that if they took the money away it wouldn’t matter because she truly loves what she does and I hope to be the same once I have my set career. I know that to get where I want to be it will take a lot of sacrifice and determination but I know I’ll get there in time! Can’t wait!
My thank-you email to the person I interviewed:
I would like to thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to meet with me and let me interview you. I would also like to say thank you for actually showing me hands on what you where talking about and the significance of each thing. I really learned a lot from you and I hope that when I finally get into the nursing field I can work with people just like you! Thanks again! You have been a great help.