Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nursing on the Road: Some Conundrums

I've been thinking a great deal about what type of nursing I might do once my wife and I are "on the road". (For those of you new to Digital Doorway, my wife and I have sold our house and will be spending a year or so living on the road in the United States, traveling and looking for a place to make a new life.)

As a nurse, I have completely eschewed working in hospitals, partly due to my desire to avoid the overly controlled and mechanized hospital setting, but also because I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and hospitals are basically dangerous to my health. MCS is a serious syndrome, and one of the best ways for me to safeguard my health is to avoid exposure to that which makes me sick. 

Lacking hospital experience, my work as a nurse has centered on home care, ambulatory care, hospice, and case management. When perusing websites for travel nurse agencies, I have noticed that travel agencies almost exclusively recruit for hospitals, and I am beginning to understand that I carry a critical handicap in that regard. However, with MCS, I am certainly not going to begin exposing myself to the toxins and chemicals of the hospital environment, thus my search for work along the way will need to be quite creative. Even home care carries with it some health risks, since many people fill their homes with chemicals, fragrances and air fresheners that can compromise my wellness and set me back for hours or days. 

So, thus has been born my increasingly keen desire to be self-employed, to "hang a shingle" as a health and wellness coach, offer sessions of Laughter Yoga to organizations and groups wherever we go, and promote my work as a writer. 

But when the proverbial financial feces hits the fan and money must be had, my plan is to creatively manifest work as a nurse that does not compromise my health, utilizes my many strengths, and brings benefit to those by whom I am employed. 

Nurses are, of course, ubiquitously employed by hospitals and hospital-based health systems throughout the country, and millions of nurses are gainfully employed in that arena at any given time. This particular nurse purposefully avoids the hospital setting, thus my "hireability" is potentially compromised, thus my search for equally gainful employment may indeed go somewhat against the prevailing tides. 

With excellent assessment skills, a high level of comfort with computers and IT systems, and years of experience in case management and ambulatory care, my hope is that I will, when necessary, be able to finesse my way into work that is satisfying and highly remunerative. With MCS, self-employment is by far my preferred course for my future in terms of making a living, but if I need to enter the health care fray while traveling, my pursuit of a safe working environment that will support my health and utilize my skills will be my top priority. 

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