From Suits to Scrubs: Why I Pursued Nursing as My Second Career

June 2020 marked my one-year anniversary as a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) nurse. Given the nature of the times, it has been quite the year. Friends, family and neighbors often ask me whether I still feel good about my decision to become a nurse. Without hesitancy I always answer … ABSOLUTELY.

A selfie of Bobbi Blakeslee, a 2019 graduate of the SON ABS program, wearing scrubs and a mask.

Bobbi Blakeslee, a 2019 graduate of the SON ABS program.

Here are my top four reasons why I went back to school for my bachelor’s in nursing.

1. You get to be your preschooler’s hero.

My daughter always asks why I have to go to work … again. I say, “I go to work to help people who need love until they can get home to their families.” Sometimes this will get me out of the house without a fight. But, when I wonder whether she listens, it’s regularly confirmed when I overhear her telling others, “My mom goes to work to help people!” And, she looks so proud my heart could burst. Surprisingly, in my previous career, “I need to review the newest profit and loss report” never had the same effect on her. She was the driving force behind my career change, especially when I considered what story I would tell her later in life about my career choices.

2. The career change was quicker than I expected.

I remember being terrified of leaving what I already knew, even though I knew I needed to change. When I found UB’s Accelerated BS (ABS) program, I knew it was exactly the right fit. It provided the perfect opportunity for me to get back to school, learn the skills I needed to succeed and position myself for the new career of my dreams in ONE YEAR. Let that sink in. In a single year, I was able to make a complete career change. It’s pretty amazing. Equally as amazing is that with diligent studies and UB’s reputation for attracting talented students, I signed my job offer five weeks before graduation.  

3. The patients and families.

There is nothing like watching the sickest patients moving from the ventilator to taking those first few steps and leaving my intensive care unit for the step-down unit. I get to be part of that journey and manage their care every step of the way. It is unbelievable.

One of my biggest fears about becoming a nurse centered on the idea I would be too emotional to complete the work. Funny enough, I find my emotion has become one of my greatest assets. Pain, loss and unexpected trauma are sad. I have found families appreciate someone who shares in their sadness. Conversely, I also get to celebrate in some of the greatest joys. Families enjoy sharing that, too. It is such an honor to be trusted by both families and patients to experience some of their most vulnerable times. 

4. Nursing can take you absolutely anywhere.

The jobs are many and Buffalo is a great place to build your resume. The job benefits are great; hello three-day work week! I used to spend hours networking in business to position myself for the next promotion. In nursing, my skills speak for themselves. It’s refreshing to be valued for knowledge and experience above anything else. It’s also refreshing to leave work at work. No more email on my phone, calls on my day off and working during family time. The only part of work I bring home with me now is the feeling of gratitude I have about being afforded the opportunity to make this type of change. 

So, what about you? Are you wearing a suit that is starting to feel a little too tight? The good news is that scrubs feel like pajamas and no one cares whether or not you're wearing a messy bun. As long as you are well-versed in your position and capable of providing the love, compassion, and service our patients need, you are a hero … just ask my daughter! This path was tough, but the rewards have far overshadowed the late-night study sessions. I will never get tired of hearing patients say, “I can tell you really enjoy what you do. Thank you for being here.” It is hard to believe I had any doubts in the first place.

About Bobbi Blakeslee

Bobbi Blakeslee is a 2019 graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing ABS program. She currently works as a CVICU registered nurse at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo. During her time at the School of Nursing, she was a Fuld Fellow and she received the Ruth T. McGrorey Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice and Nursing Theory. She earned her previous bachelor’s degree in English secondary education from Michigan State University. Blakeslee made the switch to nursing after spending more than a decade working in business roles.

Published August 11, 2020