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Clinical nurse specialist: How I got my job and where I'm going

What education and training are required to become a clinical nurse specialist? Alden talks about her path from nurse to clinical nurse specialist, as well as opportunities for growth in her field. 

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Video transcript

I worked as an RN for about eight years in total before I started going back to school for my Masters degree. And in those eight years, I worked in various hospitals, starting in Salt Lake City, and also in various specialties. I've worked Emergency Room, I've worked with stroke patients, and now I work with cancer patients. So it's always very interesting. You can find new challenges. The way I got this job was actually... Almost I felt like I was pulled to this field. I was just working as Registry Nurse, sort of like a substitute nurse. It's a good option because you get to create your own schedule, found that I enjoyed working here. I kept coming back for more and more of these substitute nurse shifts. The team kept saying, "Why don't you work here? "Why don't you apply for a job?" I wasn't sure if I wanted to commit, but eventually decided it was the right move for me. Of course, they had almost already offered me the job before I interviewed, so I felt like, again, that this was something where I was being kind of told this was the direction to go for me. I have some mentors in my mind of other Clinical Nurse Specialists, women that are very experienced, and very assertive, and very... Oh gosh, just intelligent and right on top of all... Have their finger on the pulse of everything that's going on with nursing. And that's the kind of nurse that I aspire to be. I think in ten years I would really hope that that's what I'm doing, and getting a lot of fulfillment out of my work, because I feel like I'm making that difference, that I want to. And when I got my Masters degree, I chose to get a dual degree, so I am both a Clinical Nurse Specialist, and a Nurse Practitioner. Curious parts of me that are saying, maybe I want to revisit working in Emergency, or maybe I want to revisit being really at the bedside, but maybe as a Nurse Practitioner, so I can get to have that daily patient interaction that I really find I get a lot out of. And get to do those clinical assessments that I find to be, I just think they're so interesting, and those interactions too. So I'm gonna say I'm going to aspire to be like my mentors, but there is a possibility I'll try something else, try something new, as well. If you think you want to be a nurse, I would advise that you talk to some nurses about what they do, and really know what you're getting yourself into. I know that a lot of people want to be nurses because they want to help people. That's a very worthy reason, but it takes a lot more than that, and sometimes it's emotionally draining, and sometimes it's just physically draining. Sometimes it's intellectually draining. (laughs) It's just very challenging in a lot of ways. But if you're passionate about it and you really care about it, it's a great field, and it's very rewarding. The other thing that I've heard people say about nursing, is they want to do it because they know that it's a career where you can make a stable income, and you have good... You can work shifts, so you work only three shifts a week. It's flexible, and those are also really good reasons to get into it, but it will not sustain you if that's the only reason. So I would just really examine what it is that's calling you to that, and make sure that you're interested in kind of all the parts of it, or at least okay with all the parts of it.