Ron Cross worked for the same supermarket chain for 24 years, rising from “bag boy” to manager of a bakery.
But after 24 years at what is now known as Pay Less grocery, Cross said he knew it was time for a change. He turned in his two weeks’ notice and registered to go back to school, initially to study computer science.
His boss, family and friends thought he was crazy for quitting a well-established career, but Cross thought there was something better out there for him. And he wanted to set a good example for his children — now 17 and 24 — by going to college.
Two years into school and after working a “desk job” during that time, Cross knew computer science wasn’t for him.
“I always wanted to be a doctor so I thought, ‘I should be a nurse,’” he said. “I always have liked helping people and making people feel better. Nursing was the right fit.”
Cross graduated from Anderson University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and has been working as a registered nurse. He began at Community Hospital Anderson while still in school as a nursing student and continues to work for the hospital. After several years as a medical/surgical nurse, Cross began working on the cardiac interventions unit about six months ago.
“It is definitely rewarding,” he said. “I love what I do. And the great thing about nursing is that you could be doing one thing today and then tomorrow do 10 different things with the same license.”
In addition to his work at Community, Cross is an adjunct instructor, teaching nursing at Ivy Tech. A number of his students are “non-traditional” like he was and are turning to nursing as a second career.
“There are so many opportunities,” he said. “And the money and benefits are good. And I have more time with my family.”
Beth Tharp, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Community, has been a nurse for 30 years. She’s noticed an increase in people turning to nursing as a second career.
“There are so many opportunities in nursing beyond just working in the hospital,” Tharp said. “Nurses play a really important role not only in patient care, but they are also becoming more and more involved in public policy making and helping shape what health care is going to look like in the future.”
Opportunities include work at a hospital, a doctor’s office, insurance companies or teaching, among others. And the levels of nursing are just as diverse, such as licensed practical nurses, registered nurses or nurse anesthetists.
Nancy Pitcock, chief nursing officer at Saint John’s Medical Center, said she, too, has noticed more “non-traditional” nursing students applying for the hospital’s summer nursing technician internship program.
There are a number of factors that are leading to an increase of people turning to nursing as a career, even after they have established themselves in another job. Nursing, Pitcock pointed out, is a stable career as there will always be a need for nurses. Also, the flexible schedule and good wages are enticing.
Pitcock said universities are also making the transition to nursing easier with flexible scheduling and online classes to work around a student’s current work schedule.
“It’s a wonderful career,” she said. “The ability to care for others is vital to me. There is constant growth — both personal and professional growth. You never get bored.”
—Abbey Doyle is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: John P. Cleary. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.