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"Most Fulfilling Experience" as a Second-Career Nurse

When James Wilson, RN, arrived in Tulsa, he had worked out the logistics of a cross-country move, job transfer to the Oklahoma Wonder Bread division and began a new role as caregiver. The route salesman of seven years had a new territory to learn and new drivers to train. He also had the added responsibility, as one of an increasing number of adult children in the U.S. experiencing role reversal, of caring for his aging parents and managing their health needs. Then the unexpected happened. “Here I am at 48-years-old and out of a job,” he says of Wonder Bread’s sudden closing. “What am I going to do for the rest of my life?” At that moment, the wheels were put in motion for James’ second career in nursing.

James received a letter in the mail informing him that he qualified for education to retrain in a new industry. He carefully considered his next step. “I did a lot of research and decided to go with nursing,” he adds. “I knew I wanted to be in a role where I could help people and I wanted a career that offered job security.”

January of 2013, James arrived on the campus of Rogers State University in Claremore, OK, but it wasn’t an easy first step. “I had never gone to college,” James admits. “I was scared to death. How were these young people going to respond to this older guy showing up?”

Getting his prerequisites completed and diving into the RSU nursing program, James found his place and thrived. “I loved it,” he shares. “During my second semester, everyone was talking about externships. As someone who had no clinical experience beyond nursing school, I knew I needed all the experience I could get. I put down cardiac nursing as my second choice and got it.”

That second choice selection matched James with Oklahoma Heart Institute on the second floor inpatient unit. “I find cardiology fascinating,” he says. “It is super complex, but still very interesting to me. And the people on this unit – I felt a real connection with them. Everyone is very helpful.”

Though it took him more than three years to complete his degree, James says it was a decision that changed his life for the better. “This has been the most fulfilling experience of my adult life – going to school, getting my degree and starting a career in nursing,” he adds. “It’s been awesome!”

Nursing provided James a second chance at his career – to learn, grow and do what he loves best, caring for people. “The need for nurses is so great,” he shares with others considering a career shift. “It can be done. People feel they’re too old. That’s not true. The only thing that’s holding them back is their own commitment. You can scale that mountain one step at a time. Two, three or four years will pass no matter what you’re doing. People should not give up on their dreams!”

To learn more about career opportunities at Oklahoma Heart Institute, please click here