Although it’s currently languishing in committee, Pennsylvania HB 1631 has some real potential to change the face of your career in nursing. While it provides something that any nurse can stand behind–specifically, higher minimum staffing levels–achieving that could turn out to backfire on the state’s nurses. They can expect to spend more time documenting their staff levels, more pressure to fudge when they aren’t met, and more effort training new personnel brought in to satisfy the law.
Before 1631 ever hit the floor of the statehouse, you may have been walking a hospital floor caring for patients. The years you’ve spent in your profession may have already worn you down, or maybe you’ve just lost your energy for the job’s demands and feel you’re at a crossroads. Your years of experience have brought you a lot of knowledge, and you’ve enjoyed interacting with student nurses as they have learned from you and your colleagues. That combination, along with the added burden of HB 1631’s potential, has brought you to the conclusion that maybe teaching would be a good destination for you.
One of the best ways to begin the transition to a new career is to begin working at it as a part-time position on the side. This will allow you to get a taste of the new gig before abandoning your old position, stabilizing your work history and income. And fortunately for you, Pennsylvania is large enough to have lots of opportunities in this area.
So, where might you start? The first thing to cover is your own qualifications. If there are higher levels you hope to achieve or gaps you need to fill, explore some of the accelerated nursing programs PA offers.
The next step to take is to consider your teaching options. Too many people get hung up on a one-dimensional view of teaching–rambling on to a class of disinterested teenagers, trying to lodge some tiny bit of knowledge in their texting-obsessed brains.
That’s not really how it is, of course. Teaching at any level can be very gratifying and even fun. What’s more important than your anticipated audience as an educator is your level of comfort with them. Are you at home with the aroma of crayons, sounding out words, and dealing with the occasional crying spell? Or would you rather walk a middle-school group through what makes Pennsylvania a commonwealth and not just a state? Maybe you’d feel more at home with a post-secondary group that has locked into their life goals and is intent on getting your help in reaching them.
The final group is an easy one for beginning the transition to a career in education. Many colleges hire adjunct professors. Much like PRN staff at hospitals, they aren’t necessarily guaranteed any certain workload, but they are given classes to teach as the need fluctuates. As students drop out, change majors, transfer from Penn State to Pitt, and vice versa, the universities aren’t stuck with tiny classes. This reduces their hiring of full-time professors and instructors who may end up without enough students to be financially justified.
It’s the perfect option for you. Whatever your nursing work schedule, you have some amount of hours available regularly to teach either in person or online. Once you’ve identified an institution interested in taking on adjunct staff like yourself, you work with them to make the schedule work. In time, you’ve got some classes going, and you’re doing all the things you need to do to build a new career for yourself: You’re making contacts and creating a positive impression. You’re trying the job on for size and making sure it’s right for you. And you’re hanging on to your current salary and benefits while waiting for that new opportunity.
But all that hinges on your qualifications and your completion of the necessary training to be a competent instructor. Cover this first, and the rest will fall into place.