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    Categories: Choosing a Career

The Wide World of Nursing

“I currently split my time between the Emergency Department at a children’s hospital and working with the Child Protection Team as a sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE,” Mary S. explained. “I fell in love with the pace and intrigue of the Emergency Department when I was in nursing school as I recognized the possibility to truly make a difference.”

Mary has years of schooling and training under her belt, along with quite a few certifications. She primarily works as a staff nurse (or, registered nurse (RN)) and a SANE in Texas, while attending school to complete her BSN.

Mary’s mother is a nurse and encouraged her daughter to pursue the same career field. After a few years of being stubborn, Mary decided to serve others with a passion. She loves educating patients and their families on healthy lifestyles and disease procedures.

Here’s a little insight into Mary’s journey, in her own words.

How it all came together

The pediatric population was something I never saw myself interested in until the offer was made right before I graduated from nursing school. I frequently joke that I enjoy the pediatric population because they have an excuse to be immature.

Forensic nursing was something I did not know much about until I started working in the Pediatric Emergency Department in 2011 and had to collect my first sexual assault kit with minimal training. In 2014, the hospital started a SANE-A program and asked for volunteers. I saw this as the best way to serve my patients when they needed me most.


When moving to my current employer, they offered me the opportunity to get training for SANE-P and I was thrilled. This has allowed me to make a positive impact after the patient has experienced something negative. This training has increased my knowledge and elevated my assessment skills during my regular shifts, and challenged me to do right by my patients.

When job seeking, don’t let anything stand in your way

When I found out we would be stationed, I began searching for the closest Children’s Hospital. I enjoyed the four years I spent in the Pediatric Emergency Department, and wanted to continue to care for the pediatric population if at all possible. I registered on the health system’s job search and checked frequently for a position in the pediatric emergency department. I filled out the requested information for the position and attached my resume. I was called by the Nursing recruiter who was thrilled about my experience. After a short phone interview, she said she would be recommending me for an interview.

The interview was fantastic, but although the clinical educator and the nurse manager agreed that they liked me, I did not have my BSN yet. The manager had to get special permission to interview me since the hospital was seeking Magnet status. I was offered the job the next day with the caveat that I would start a BSN program within 6 months and finish within 30 months. I always wanted to complete my BSN and with tuition reimbursement, I am halfway there!

A few words of wisdom from the field

For students seeking a nursing degree, be ready to be pushed to the limit physically, emotionally and academically. Nursing is not for the faint of heart but is very rewarding. Humility and willingness to learn will get you far, as you will be a novice for the first two years.

The program I graduated from prepared me extremely well for what nursing is like in the real world, so very few things were surprising when I entered the workforce. That being said, I did not realize that the Board of Nursing is not for nurses, it is actually for the protection of the patients and community.

I follow ZDoggMD for both comic relief and to gain insight into the other aspects of health care that are in need of change. For up to date information, I check Medscape as well as any resources it cites. I am a member of the International Associate of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) which has very active forums and resources. I suggest subscribing to at least one scholarly journal that is specific to your specialty for healthcare changes and new studies that can affect your practice.

A little more about Mary

Mary is working towards her BSN, and has an Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) and a S.T.A.B.L.E. Program Certification (for NICU babies). She also has experience with:

  • Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC)
  • Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)

Her training isn’t done, as she works to finish her BSN and stay up to date with certifications. She’s also pursuing her Texas OAG Certification and stays on track with continuing education units as required. Follow along with Mary’s adventures on Twitter.

If this career path sounds like something you’d like to consider, check out the many resources on the Career Explorer section and read more about nurses in our Career Spotlights.

Rebecca Alwine :