Nursing as a Second Career
Laura Wisniewski RN, BS, CIC
Shirley sat in the front row of new hire orientation. Her face beamed with the enthusiastic glow of a new nurse. She eagerly asked questions, scribbled notes and participated in group discussions. Shirley is not your average graduate nurse…she was 60 years old when she graduated from nursing school.
Her childhood dream had always been to become a nurse. However, her family could not afford to send her to nursing school. At the age of seventeen she married her high school sweetheart Bill. After the last of their three children started school, Shirley began work as a bookkeeper in Bill’s real estate office. Life was good…but from time to time she still regretted not following her dream of becoming a nurse.
Their lives were suddenly turned upside down after Bill was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Shirley became his primary caregiver; learning everything she could about his illness. Throughout Bill’s numerous hospitalizations, she had the opportunity to closely observe nurses as they worked. Shirley was inspired by their compassion, intelligence and technical skills.
During a blessed period of remission, they made plans for Shirley’s future. Bill helped her select the nursing school she would attend. He lived long enough to watch his bride graduate nursing school and begin her new life. According to Shirley, “I am doing this for both of us”.