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I found an intriguing part-time job for the end of my career. The problem is the pay rate is $11 an hour. Am I hurting my career or fellow nurses who have worked so hard for an education by accepting this pay rate?

Monday May 13, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I commute one hour to work at a large city teaching university. I have been a dialysis nurse for nearly 20 years, but I am looking for something that interests me and makes me feel rewarded and happy. I like what I do now, but it would be nice to have a "happy" ending to my nursing career.

I found an office bariatric nurse position near my home where I would be doing the preteaching and setting up the testing and the follow-up of labs, vitamin shots and weigh-ins, which I find to be intriguing. The problem is the pay rate is $11 an hour. The job is actually posted for a nurse with a BSN, which I do not have. I was stunned the rate was so low. It is lower than what our unit secretaries make and lower than what our outside hospitals pay bariatric patient care techs. However, I would like to get a foot in the door and learn to be a nurse coordinator. I do not wish to go back to school for my BSN.

This would be a way to get grandfathered into the position at my hospital and let me dip my feet into the water instead of diving in. It is a part-time position, which I intend to do around my full-time job at the hospital. It is only eight to nine hours a week and vacation coverage. Am I hurting my career or fellow nurses who have worked so hard for an education by accepting this pay rate?

Looking for a Happy Ending

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Looking for a Happy Ending,

Other than the low pay rate, the job sounds great for many different reasons. And you are clearly interested in it. Also, bariatric nursing is a growing specialty, so you'd be on the cutting edge. Learn more about the specialty on the National Association of Bariatric Nurses’ website at www.bariatricnurses.org.

Is there any chance the stated pay rate could be incorrect? Whether it is or not you might be able to negotiate that rate. “Read How to Negotiate the Salary You Want” at Nurse.com/Cardillo/Negotiate-Salary.

I don't see any way this would hurt your career. If you ever go elsewhere from there and someone questioned it you could explain you accepted it despite the low salary because you saw an opportunity to get a foot in the door in a growing specialty. For what it's worth, I once took a job with a very low pay rate because otherwise the job itself met my needs at the time. It wound up being a very important job in my career path because while there I learned some skills and was introduced to a specialty that led me to the best job of my career.

When making an important decision, it's always best to follow your heart and go with your gut. The rest will work itself out.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.