Diversity Career Stories Healthcare

Respiratory nurse finds joint calling in nursing and writing

Melissa Bosworth is a respiratory nurse with 5 years experience nursing, and 2.5 years experience specifically in the respiratory specialty. Her career plans include continuing to grow and learn in the field of nursing, while working on a writing career on the side.

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

My job title is Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). I work as a respiratory nurse for a Midwest company. I have been a nurse for 5 years, 2 1/2 of that as a respiratory nurse.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

I am Caucasian female. I feel that being a female often helps some of the patients I care for feel more comfortable. I personally have never experienced any discrimination, however, I know several male co-workers have found it harder being a male in this profession.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

I take care of the respiratory issues in the building I work in. I assess each resident before, during, and after their various respiratory treatments. The most common misunderstanding people have is that mucous doesn’t phase me. That is so not true. I am just as likely as any other nurse to gag when I see mucous.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

My job satisfaction is at an 8. In order to release my full enthusiasm I would want to change the early hours. I work 12 hour shifts, but being at work at 5am with a 45 minute commute there and back gets old after awhile. If you can find positions closer to home, I encourage you to do so.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

This career does move my heart. Watching some of those I have cared for for a long time, struggle at the end, gasping for breath is very difficult. I love the more individualized attention I can give my patients as a respiratory nurse as opposed to a floor nurse.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

You don’t always find your dream job right from the start. You might have to experiment with different types of nursing jobs before you find the one that suits you best. With each one you try, I suggest giveing yourself at least 6 months on the job before you make any drastic changes.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I had been a floor nurse for a few years in long term care. I was starting to get burnt out on nursing. I was ready for a change, something different. The opportunity to become a respiratory nurse just fell into my lap, so I considered it. I haven’t looked back yet.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

To always pay attention. You are dealing with medications. I can’t say that there was a specific incident that led to this. I just recall there being numerous stories in the news about medication errors…deadly errors. It made me aware that it is possible to make mistakes and to always be aware of what you are doing.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

That all people have feelings. Everything you do effects those around us. A smile is contagious. And laughter really is the best medicine.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

Well, I remember having a patient who was dying. I was assessing them and noticed their tongue was black. I called a co-worker and my DON to check it out and tell me what this was. My co-worker had never seen it either, but my DON had. The patient’s tongue was mottling. I had never seen a tongue do that before or since. It was truly crazy!

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

For my patients that I take care of. I took care of a terminal patient recently. After the patient had passed, the family made a point of thanking me personally and telling me what a great job I had done caring for their family member. They told me I was caring and compassionate.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?

The only big challenges I ever face and the only thing that every makes me want to quit is the ‘politics’ that are evident in every job out there. The ‘cliques’ who seek to alienate you. To offset this I make a point of getting along with everyone and never being labeled as one who belongs in a ‘clique’.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

My job is not very stressful. Yes, I am able to maintain a very comfortable work-life balance. I work three 12 hour shifts, and have 4 days off to spend with my family.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A rough salary range is 37,000-42,000 and up. I could be paid a bit more, but I am happy with what I am making.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

2 weeks per year. Yes, it is enough.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

To be working as a nurse, you need to go to a licensed school of nursing. To work as a respiratory therapist without being a nurse, you need to go to an accredited school for respiratory therapists. To get hired, be confident, but be willing to learn. Everyday is a new day. Always be willing to learn something new.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

Think on it carefully. Make sure it is something you want to do. And make sure you maximize your education.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

I have experienced some nursing, and I have enjoyed it. I have learned some new things. Aside from that I have other passions. I love to write. I have written my first book, and I am currently working on my second. I have not had much time to promote my book to potential agents, but I am starting to work on that. I would like to be a successful author within the next 5 years, as well as be an accomplished and well-rounded nurse.