The Career Chronicles: An Insider's Guide to What Jobs Are Really Like - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from over 750 Professionals

The Career Chronicles: An Insider's Guide to What Jobs Are Really Like - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from over 750 Professionals

by Michael Gregory
     
 

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In this nuts-and-bolts guide, over 750 professionals speak candidly about "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of two dozen popular professions. Dispensing with romantic fantasies, real-world professionals - from nurses and pharmacists to architects and attorneys - speak about the day-to-day realities of their careers in six categories:

College vs. Reality
The

Overview

In this nuts-and-bolts guide, over 750 professionals speak candidly about "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of two dozen popular professions. Dispensing with romantic fantasies, real-world professionals - from nurses and pharmacists to architects and attorneys - speak about the day-to-day realities of their careers in six categories:

College vs. Reality
The Biggest Surprise
Hours and Advancement
The Best and the Worst
Changes in the Profession
Would You Do It All Over Again?

Chapters include overviews of each profession, followed by helpful information about education, testing, and registration and licensing requirements; the number of positions across the country; and the average starting or median annual salaries.

This valuable resource is filled with the open, personal insights and observations most students and career-changers want - and need - to make informed decisions about what they will do with the rest of their lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Former attorney Gregory launches his writing career with the book he wish he'd had as a college student, a comprehensive guide to some of America's most popular jobs, including notes from the professionals themselves. In 23 profiles, Gregory introduces a double-handful of careers-from landscaping to accounting to veterinary medicine-with background info, "by the numbers" data (employment and salary levels) and quotes from a list of practitioners on topics like "College vs. Reality," "The Biggest Surprise," and "Would you do it all over again?" Going for depth over breadth, Gregory's selection of careers is rather narrow, but includes representative careers from 10 fields-including health care, architecture, the law, education, social sciences, sales and marketing-providing enough coverage for most job-seeking college grads. Without sugarcoating the grueling details, this guide still accentuates the positive, and hundreds of personal voices add to the encouraging tone.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Deborah Dubois
For those trying to decide on a career, this guide is a good tool. Gregory interviewed hundreds of professionals about their jobs, asking the kind of questions that help show what the job is really like. He profiles twenty-four professions across a wide spectrum of employment categories, such as Health Care, Law, Financial Services, and Arts and Media. It is not meant to be an exhaustive study, but a useable volume that will give students a picture of what some real career choices are like. Each chapter gives a general overview of the job, training requirements, and salary along with other facts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rest of each chapter shares responses from individuals working in the profession to questions divided into six categories: College vs. Reality, The Biggest Surprise, Hours and Advancement, The Best and the Worst, Changes in the Profession, and Would You Do It All Over Again? The most valuable part of the book are the candid answers from people actually working on the job. They point out unrealistic expectations they had as students, what they don't like about their jobs, and what keeps them going back to work every day. This informative guide may have students rethinking a career choice before they spend years training for something they really do not want to do. High school and college counselors could use this resource to help students choose a career path. Reviewer: Deborah Dubois
Library Journal

Former attorney Gregory sent questionnaires to more than 750 individuals in his quest to provide "real-world insight" on a wide variety of careers in health care, engineering, law, education, sales, and more. The result is an extremely readable guide, with chapters detailing the history, educational requirements, and salaries for specific jobs. The real genius of the book is the verbatim inclusion of survey responses to questions such as "Would you do it all over again?" The respondents' words help paint a vivid picture of each profession, and, as several responses to each question are provided, the bigger picture emerges as it seldom does in career guides. Although the list of careers covered seems random (doctors are not included because the author found doctors so busy "they rarely had time to participate"), the 24 job titles that are listed are fully explored. Gregory has compiled an invaluable resource combining tangible and intangible information about the wider work world. Highly recommended for all public libraries and secondary school libraries.
—Sarah Statz Cords

School Library Journal

Adult/High School- An introduction to 23 jobs in health care, architecture, the law, financial services, education, the social sciences, information technology, sales, media, and more. Gregory dedicates a separate chapter to each one, opening with its history and background and describing the current status of the field (including statistics on employment levels, education required, and average salaries). The most revealing portions of each chapter are the direct quotes from surveys. Workers are asked to compare the reality of the profession to expectations developed in school, describe the biggest surprise, say whether they would choose that position again, and answer practical questions about hours and advancement, as well as best and worst aspects of and changes in the profession. The honest, insightful answers given by the survey responders, combined with the wide-ranging fields and professions covered, offer teens an opportunity to learn about "the real world" before committing to a specific career path. The concluding chapter features a table of data comparing current careers and dream professions from 50 survey responders and encourages readers to consider factors beyond salary and status when choosing a profession. This book belongs in every high school library and guidance office.-Sondra VanderPloeg, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781577317838
Publisher:
New World Library
Publication date:
02/01/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
588 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Career Chronicles

An Insider's Guide to What Jobs are Really Like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Over 750 Professionals


By Michael Gregory

New World Library

Copyright © 2008 River Valley Ventures, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57731-783-8



CHAPTER 1

CAREERS IN

Health Care


SO YOU WANT TO BE A NURSE


I thought there would be time for baths and foot rubs and lots of therapeutic listening. Looking back, I realize how naïve that expectation was. The reality of nursing is caring for individuals experiencing a crisis in their life, acute exacerbations of a chronic disease, or disease and injuries that require medical interventions. The health-care industry is complex, confusing, and often intimidating to patients and their families. The language is incomprehensible to many, and the procedures, treatments, and often even the medications are alien to laypeople. They want to ask questions and feel empowered to participate in the decisions but many times must look to the nurses, doctors, and often unskilled assistants to interpret events and choices. I was not prepared for the degree of trust I often feel patients and families grant others as well as myself involved in their care.


Although nursing dates back to the fifteenth century or earlier, when women were regularly hired to take care of the newborn children of other women, most people associate the origin of the nursing profession with one name — Florence Nightingale. Born in 1820 to wealthy English parents while they were touring Europe, she was named after the city of her birth — Florence, Italy. Starting when she was sixteen, Nightingale reported hearing the voice of God calling her to do his work, although at the time she did not know what that work would involve. From 1949 to 1950, Nightingale toured Egypt and Europe, where she began her training as a nurse, first in Egypt and then in Germany. That trip would change her life — and the profession of nursing. In 1853 she took a position as superintendent of the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in London.

In 1854, Britain, France, and Turkey declared war on Russia. During what was known as the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was asked to introduce female nurses into the military hospitals in Turkey. The experiment was an outstanding success, and after the war, the "Lady-in-Chief," as she was referred to, established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses and authored the book Notes on Nursing, which was translated into eleven languages and is still in print today. Until her death at age ninety, Florence Nightingale devoted the rest of her life to improving health standards and advancing nursing as a respectable profession for women, publishing two hundred books, reports, and pamphlets. In 1872, at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, the first formal training school for nurses in the United States opened its doors.

In the broadest sense, as a profession or career, nursing focuses on maintaining optimal health for individuals, families, and communities. There are a number of different educational paths to a nursing career, yet all involve a combination of the study of nursing theory and training in clinical skills. Students learn a "nursing process" to assess and diagnose needs, to implement interventions, and to continually evaluate outcomes of the care. The American Nurses Association defines nursing as "the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities; prevention of illness and injury; alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human responses; and advocacy in health care for individuals, families, communities, and populations." Nursing is the most diverse of all health-care professions, with over seventy-five different recognized specializations within the field, including pediatric nursing, obstetrics-gynecology nursing, neonatal nursing, geriatric nursing, psychiatric and mental health nursing, oncology nursing, emergency nursing, critical care nursing, intensive care nursing, surgical nursing, radiology nursing, orthopedic nursing, public health nursing, hospice nursing, holistic nursing, home-health nursing, and nursing instruction.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses constitute the largest health-care occupation in the country, with over 2.5 million jobs. A registered nurse is defined as "a graduate trained nurse who has passed a state administered national registration examination, and has been licensed to practice nursing." The National Council Licensure Examination–Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) is a standardized test presented in a multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and area-identification format, which tests current medical knowledge and nursing competencies within a "Meeting the Patient's Needs" framework.

To achieve the position of registered nurse, there are three possible educational paths: a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN), an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a hospital Diploma of Nursing. As of 2006, there were 709 BSN programs (which traditionally take four years to complete) available through colleges and universities in the United States. The BSN curriculum includes courses on physical assessment, disease management, clinical decision making, health promotion and prevention, health-care technology, health-care policy, research, quality assurance, leadership, and management. In addition, a clinical component, comprising hospital work as well as possibly working in patients' homes, school-based clinics, and adult living communities, is a major part of the curriculum.

During the same year, approximately 850 ADN programs in the United States offered associate degrees (which traditionally take two to three years to complete), while approximately 70 hospitals in the United States administered Diploma of Nursing programs. In addition, to serve the needs of RNs with an associate degree or a nursing diploma who want to secure a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, in 2006 there were 629 RN-to-BSN programs available. There were also multiple Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs as well as 149 RN-to-MSN programs in the United States.

In addition to registered nurses, the world of nursing offers the position of licensed practical nurse (LPN), which is defined in the American Heritage Medical Dictionary as "an individual who has completed a practical nursing program, and is licensed by a state to provide routine patient care under the direction of a registered nurse or a physician." Most yearlong practical nursing programs (for which a high school diploma is usually required) include both classroom study and supervised clinical practice (patient care). As of 2006, there were 1,500 LPN programs in the United States. To obtain licensure as an LPN, one must pass the NCLEX-PN licensing exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

For a successful nursing career, a caring, sympathetic nature is almost a must. Good observation and communication skills are pluses, as is being able to work as part of a team. On a day-to-day basis, nurses assist and care for sick and injured people, and the environment is often emotional and stressful as patients become confused and agitated. In addition, nurses can be exposed to caustic chemicals, radiation, and infectious diseases. However, for those individuals who like to help others, nursing can be one of the most rewarding careers available.

Nurses continue to be in strong demand, and there are currently more positions available than individuals to fill them. As a result, wages continue to rise, and hospitals and other employers often offer sign-on bonuses and flexible work hours. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2006 and 2016, there will be over 500,000 new positions available for registered nurses, as the baby-boomer generation reaches retirement age and as a substantial percentage of the existing nursing population retires. This represents one of the largest numbers of projected new jobs among all occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


COLLEGE VS. REALITY

How would you compare the reality of your profession to the picture you had of it while in school?


I thought there would be time for baths and foot rubs and lots of therapeutic listening. Looking back, I realize how naïve that expectation was. The reality of nursing is caring for individuals experiencing a crisis in their life, acute exacerbations of a chronic disease, or disease and injuries that require medical interventions. The health-care industry is complex, confusing, and often intimidating to patients and their families. The language is incomprehensible to many, and the procedures, treatments, and often even the medications are alien to laypeople. They want to ask questions and feel empowered to participate in the decisions but many times must look to the nurses, doctors, and often unskilled assistants to interpret events and choices. I was not prepared for the degree of trust I often feel patients and families grant others as well as myself involved in their care.

— Registered nurse, 16 years, Longview, Texas


I was not prepared for the paper compliance. That was thirty-four years ago. Little did I know, health-care regulations (in long-term care, in particular) are unreal. Regulations in long-term care are second only to those in nuclear power plants.

— Nursing administrator in geriatrics, 34 years, Ephrata, Pennsylvania


Pretty much what you see is what you get. In nursing school you actually work numerous clinical rotations. During those, you simply work every day on the floor as a nurse with your own patient load and everything. The only thing is that you are supervised by a regular nurse there, and you don't get paid for it. Once you graduate, you continue doing the same basic thing, only then you can finally draw a paycheck for doing it. Still, there are a million different areas that you could work in, such as OR [operating room], ICU [intensive care unit], ER [emergency room], oncology, pediatrics, doctors' offices, schools, et cetera, et cetera, so they can't get you experience in all of them, but the main ones, yeah, you pretty much know what to expect.

— Registered nurse, 15 years, Carrollton, Texas

...

How would you rate your collegiate and graduate courses in preparing you for your profession on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best?


7 out of 10. The core curriculum provided a solid foundation. Instructors made many of the classes stressful, which was a good obstacle to deal with due to the stress in the real world upon graduation.

— Occupational therapist, 12 years, Farmerville, Louisiana


An 8. I had good instructors and a good mix of clinical training.

— Registered nurse, 6 years, Gainesville, Florida


The reality of nursing is that you do not receive enough training. Nursing schools do their best to present nursing as "peachy."

— Registered nurse, 5 years, Bossier City, Louisiana


THE BIGGEST SURPRISE

What most surprised you about your chosen profession?


The high demand for nurses and the wide variety of job options that it accordingly affords you.

— Psychiatric nurse, 16 years, Long Beach, California


The lack of helping each other to make the job easier.

— Registered nurse, 8 years, Caddo Parish, Louisiana


Nurses complain ... a lot!

— Registered nurse, 10 years, Petaluma, California


HOURS AND ADVANCEMENT

How many hours do you work each week at your career?


Forty.

— Registered nurse, 8 years, Greenville, South Carolina


Thirty-six — three twelve-hour shifts.

— Registered nurse, 16 years, Nashville, Tennessee


Fifty to fifty-two.

— Registered nurse, 22 years, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

...

Have you found advancement within your career easy or difficult?


Easy if you want to be a manager, but I have no desire to be in a management position.

— Operating room nurse, 17 years, San Diego, California


Easy. There is a nursing shortage, and good nurses can advance quickly.

— Registered nurse, 7 years, Richmond, Virginia


Easy.

— Registered nurse, 14 years, Independence, Missouri


THE BEST AND THE WORST

What do you spend most of your day doing? Describe a typical day.


My current position is in preadmission testing. I see patients who will be having surgery within one to two weeks. My responsibility is to assess patients and teach them about the procedure, the care they will receive at the hospital, and how they are to care for themselves at home. I ensure that the appropriate testing is done according to the surgeon's orders and consult with the anesthesiologist regarding tests required based on the physical assessment. I confirm that the appropriate diagnosis is documented for each test done. I contact outside resources for those patients who have specific needs. I see up to eight patients a day.

— Registered nurse, 39 years, Coldwater, Ohio


I get to work, change from my street clothes into scrubs, and don a nametag. I get a report on my patients for the day and go meet them. I find out what they will need by reading their doctor's orders and by what I hear from my report. Then I assess the patient or patients. If I am working with a labor patient, I only have one patient at a time. Well, really there are two if you count the fetus. If I am working in adult ICU, I have one or two patients concurrently. If I am working in postpartum, I have up to four mom-and-baby couplets; that is really eight patients. After initial assessments, I do the necessary things for my patient grouping. When a baby is born, there is a huge amount of work to help mom and baby recover. Mom can bleed if the uterus isn't behaving, and babies can transition poorly to extrauterine life and need close watching. In the ICU, there are many complex and layered assessments to make. There are a huge number of machines used there, so the mechanics are as important as the human interaction. I call doctors or work with them directly with patients. I manage a lot of equipment and use my people skills concurrently. There is a lot of communication, teaching, and comforting that goes on constantly throughout the day. There are whole families who also become my patients, as the real patient isn't the only one who needs caring for. Sometimes the family is the biggest challenge of my day, for instance if the loved one is dying and I need to counsel the family about all the available options in a language they can understand. At the end of a shift, I give a report to the next shift, and then I go home. Hopefully, I have had time for a thirty-minute meal break and a couple of ten-minute breathers. Most often I get the meal break, but the others are really just two minutes to go to the bathroom and drink some water.

— Registered nurse, 25 years, Petaluma, California


On a typical day, I care for four patients. My day may include giving medications (oral and IV), doing several head-to-toe assessments of patients, starting IVs, drawing blood for lab work, helping patients walk in the halls, doing skin care and changing dressings, educating patients about their disease process, completing lots of paperwork, communicating with patients' families, and much more.

— Acute care registered nurse, 2 years, Portland, Oregon


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Career Chronicles by Michael Gregory. Copyright © 2008 River Valley Ventures, LLC. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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