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Two very different worlds

It’s always fun to go shopping with a non-nurse. The experience emphasizes my appreciation of our uniform, scrubs. As we are shopping at the local outlet mall today, my friend endlessly browses through long pants, blouses, cardigans while I’m focusing on my summer flair of bathing suits, shorts and tank tops. The bulk of her shopping stipend is spent on business casual attire to be worn five days a week until 5pm. Me, on the other hand, am embarrassed to even disclose the fact that I just recently replaced my original set of scrubs that I’ve been wearing since graduation (that was four years ago).

I revel in the fact that my workplace allows me to wear a t-shirt and scrub pants every day. Correction: they don’t allow me to, that is indeed my uniform. The only thing uniform-related that I have learned the importance of investing some money in is my shoes. As a nurse on her feet all day, I have learned the hard way that just your average tennis shoe won’t cut it. But if that’s the trade-off to buying a whole new business casual wardrobe each year, I think I can handle spending a little extra on shoes. When my business world roommate is getting primped for work each morning, I bask in slipping my pants on, throwing my hair back, and heading out the door. Two hours before her though, mind you… that leads me to my next point.

Business world vs. hospital world. A collision of two vastly different routines. Nurses and non-nurses make the best roommates. Why? Because you never have to fight over bathroom time, you never have to worry about sharing kitchen space, and you never get sick of spending too much time together. Business world roommate gets up and works out every morning, and gets home in time to cook a leisurely dinner, take a leisurely stroll with the dog, and still have daylight hours left to read on the back porch. But she does this five days a week. Yikes, that brings me back to those long school weeks where come Wednesday, it felt as though the week was passing by at a snail’s pace. I spend three days a week at the hospital, literally all day- nearly 14 hours when you include commute. With just enough time to rush home, let the dog out, make lunch for the next day, and get in bed. That being said, those other four days in the week can be spent however I please. Granted, many nurses have other jobs, hobbies, families that quickly fill in those off days but a three day work week is something to be very thankful for.

Job progression, perhaps a downside in the hospital world. Take corporate world, Jane Doe, for instance. She starts out in a novice position and has to do the dirty work for the first couple of years. Then she gets promoted with a bonus- yay Jane! She increases her vacation time and responsibility while reducing her actual working hours. A couple years later, her manager goes out on maternity leave and decides not to come back. A big hooray can be heard from Jane’s cube because all of her hard work has finally paid off, she’s promoted again, and has nearly doubled her starting salary. In contrast, while new graduate nurses start off with higher yearly wages than your average Jane Doe straight out of college, the potential for exponential growth is very limited. Aside from market pay increases and small yearly hourly pay bumps, the income growth of a nurse follows a very mild incline and nearly plateaus. A perk? For those motivated individuals that find themselves seeking out more opportunity, nurses can go back to school and become a Nurse Practitioner for higher earning potential.

My office cube roommate and I shared a holiday off today, something that has not happened in a very long time. And we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves shopping together, going to the gym together, and discussing our next travels plans where I will stack my schedule and she will take vacation. But I’ll be looking forward to seeing her off to work tomorrow morning from the front door as I will most surely still be in my PJs and sipping coffee.

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Nicole Lehr

Nicole Lehr is a pediatric nurse. She can be described in three adjectives: content, thankful and fortunate. All credit for the aforementioned description can be given to the love she has for her profession as an RN. She graduated from University of Florida with her Bachelor’s in Nursing and moved to Atlanta to work at the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Children’s — her dream job.
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