What is Working in a Hospital Really Like?
Getting a job in healthcare can take you almost anywhere. Nurses and medical assistants work in schools, senior centers, on military bases, and just about every other work environment. However, the vast majority of registered nurses work in hospitals.
We spoke with two Ameritech instructors who have extensive hospital experience. Veronica Killion is a clinical instructor at Ameritech and works on an acute surgical trauma floor. Misty Schreiner is also a clinical instructor at Ameritech and manages an ICU where she’s worked for 18 years.
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Hospitals are where the action is
Nearly every job in healthcare is represented at hospitals. That means if you’re interested in a particular nursing specialty, you can probably find it. Whether you’re interested in oncology, pediatrics, or something else, it’s usually possible to see your new field in action just down the hall.
Schreiner emphasizes that, even though she’s had the same employer for almost two decades, things haven’t gotten stale: “One thing about being a nurse is that there’s a lot of options; you’re never bored.” Being in a hospital environment is a great way to get acquainted with new specialities and work environments you may be curious about.
While the majority of work in hospitals is routine, Killion did note that there are moments of excitement. If you want to work on the edge of life-or-death situations, hospitals will get dramatic a bit more often than the offices of a family practice, for instance. Killion recalls one man who “literally died five times.” She says, “Had he been in any other facility, I don’t think he would have lived.” She notes that caregivers can’t save everybody, but having access to the technology and expertise of a large hospital definitely makes a difference.
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Hospitals are usually part of something bigger
Hospitals are often part of large networks, and that can be a major advantage for employees. The hospital where Killion works is part of a larger organization that has several different types of facilities: “We have Life Flight, we have clinics … we have hospitals all the way from small ones to big facilities.”
For Schreiner, the relationships hospitals maintain with each other is a major job perk. “The nice thing about that,” she says, “is that you can stay within the company and move around. I’ve actually worked in three different ICUs but was able to keep all of my years of work and experience.”
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Getting a job at a hospital
Both Killion and Schreiner emphasize being open to several types of jobs. “I would recommend applying for several different jobs,” says Schreiner. Killion also notes that, while nursing is a varied field, most nurses start at the bedside, and clinical care is the core of the mission. “We all start as bedside nurses,” she says. “[Students] want to be a researcher or an educator… You can have a brilliant statistician life and still be a nurse. But you’re helping the bedside nurse in your role as a researcher.”
None of these options are possible, though, without education. “You cannot survive without education,” says Killion. “It doesn’t matter what degree you’re going in for… You need more than just high school.” Schreiner notes that having more than just an associate degree will take you far. “I recommend getting your bachelor’s,” she says. “There are a lot of opportunities if you have your bachelor’s.”