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How can I combine my love of nursing and fitness into a successful career?

Wednesday June 9, 2010
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Dear Donna,

I became an RN later in life at 41 years old. Before that I was a professional exercise instructor/personal trainer. Exercise has been my real passion. I love nursing too, but after working in ortho/neuro for three and a half years, regular med/surg for several months and now the ED for four and a half years, I am tired, feeling old, fat and out of shape and am frustrated with the politics of working in the ED.

The stress has caused me to be hypertensive and I think in general that is not good for me. I have been teaching RN students in the clinical setting for a local college for the last two years while working in the ED. I have just been accepted to a master's Degree program for Nursing Education, because I have found that I really like teaching.

On the other hand, I have been racking my brain as to how I could possibly combine my passion for exercise and making people (particularly women) feel better about themselves with nursing but have not been able to come up with anything. Any suggestions?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Michele,

You have a few options depending on whether you want to be employed or self-employed. If you're looking for employment, consider working in a medical weight control center. There is a great deal of counseling and teaching involved related to fitness, exercise, and wellness and most of the clients are women. I worked in one such center years ago and loved it.

These facilities are sometimes hospital-based and other times privately owned. Do some research for centers in your area. Contact them and find out about opportunities for nurses.

Many hospitals now have their own fitness centers and nurses work there doing fitness assessments, coaching, counseling, teaching, etc. Your combined background of nursing and fitness would be a perfect match.

I know a nurse who is also a personal trainer (this is becoming more common) and she does work through the education department of a local hospital teaching kickboxing to seniors, exercise for women with osteoporosis and for those post mastectomy. Other nurses have started their own businesses as wellness/fitness/life coaches.

As you can see, there are many ways to integrate fitness with nursing and these are just a few examples. Contact the newly formed National Association of Fitness Nurses at fitnessnursing.org. Talk to the founder Lori Radcliffe, RN, CPT for additional ideas.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’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.