Ask Aunt Agatha: “How can I break this insomnia pattern?” and more


iStock | monkeybusinessimages

iStock | monkeybusinessimages

Aunt Agatha has some interesting career-related questions this month. They’re certainly better than the plumbing-related questions Aggie’s been dealing with in her personal life, so let’s get started!

Dear Aunt Agatha: I have been an ICU nurse for nearly 20 years, and I have been wanting to become a nurse esthetician for a while now, but I have no idea where to begin. Should I spend thousands of dollars to receive the training on my own? If I do, how can I make sure I will have a career in that field when I’m done?

It’s funny you should ask, because I have a buddy in esthetician school right now! She’s taking an 18-month degree to become a registered esthetician (she’s not an RN). She loves it! My advice is to check your state or province’s regulations on practice. In some states, you may have to complete an entire RE course from scratch. In others, you can complete several symposium-type training courses, shadow a nurse esthetician for a few months to a year and then take the licensing exam. There are a lot of variations, and it may not be as expensive as you think: Private, for-profit companies charge more than $15,000 for the same degree you can receive from a community college for $3,000.

As for being sure whether or not you will have a career in the field, well, it’s just like getting a job in any other field: network, keep your contact base strong and suss out opportunities as you go along. Update your resume, make sure your skills are sharp and be flexible.

And good luck!


Dear Aunt Agatha: I am the school district nurse for over 2,000 students in four schools [where there are] various health conditions ranging from mild to life-threatening. I have three health assistants working under my license as well as everyone else I delegate (bus drivers, secretaries, teachers, etc.). My question is: Does it hurt my chances of landing a job on a floor at a hospital by being in my position without acute care experience outside from my nursing school clinicals? Most nurses who have been in the hospital setting a while question why I’d even consider leaving my job, being that I have holidays, weekends and summers off. I just feel that I am not using my full “nurse potential” at the age of 25 with no kids in the house. Thoughts?

This is a great question, and a great example of playing to your strengths. You may not have a lot of acute care experience, but you have a ton of experience in delegation, thinking critically and triaging patients. Play to those strengths in interviews and on your resume. You’ve got a maturity that a lot of floor nurses take years to develop, which is a huge plus.

As for landing a job, you’d probably feel more comfortable if you could start by getting into either an internship position or a longer-than-usual preceptorship. Don’t be afraid to ask; many hospitals are much more flexible than they look on paper. You might have better luck at a teaching hospital or in a specialty unit. Go for it!


Dear Aunt Agatha: In the last four and a half to five months I have applied to more than 100 jobs posted on various healthcare facilities’ websites. I’ve only garnered two interviews, the most recent of which seemed to go very well; I was told by the interviewer he would be in touch by the end of that week. I have been trying to follow up, but have been unable to reach that person, leaving messages with no call back. So I guess my question is: Is it common practice to interview a potential employee, tell them you will be in touch by a certain time frame and then proceed to not call or answer any messages? This seems so unprofessional in my opinion.

And you would be right, my friend. It is unprofessional. If the HR people tell you that you’re a good candidate, they should call you back, even if you don’t get the job. I would put this down to “bullet: dodged.” Who wants to work for a facility that can’t even render a polite “no”?


Finally, a question about sleep, or lack thereof:

Dear Aunt Agatha: What can I do to help break this insomnia pattern? My husband says it’s mind over matter. I totally disagree. Can you help?

Oh my dear. Insomnia is the suckiest of all sucks, and you’re right: It’s not just mind over matter.

First things first: Do a search for “sleep hygiene” on the web. You’ll find lots of tips about setting routines, learning to slow your mind down and easing distractions before bed.

Then, make sleep a priority the same way you would any other really important thing that you do. Get into a routine, do all the good-sleep-habit things you read about and keep that up for a month or so. This is gonna take time.

Finally, don’t rely on alcohol, Benadryl or other fun over-the-counter sleep remedies for long-term relief.

If in a month or six weeks you’re not managing considerably more sleep, it’s off to the doctor you go. You may need professional help.

I sure hope you get some sweet dreams soon!


Next month: Agatha devotes some electrons to the subject of LVNs and RNs: competition, cooperation and scope of practice! Who does what, when and where, and why is the relationship so often Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick?


Got a question you need answered? Leave it for Aunt Agatha in the comments section below. Or, if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can send it to her attention via as************@gm***.com. She’ll choose select questions to answer in an article here on every month.

Aunt Agatha reminds her readers that all advice is to be taken with a grain of salt, does not substitute for professional legal or medical advice, and should not be submerged in water. Other restrictions may apply.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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