Friday morning was my venture back into hospital nursing. And I loved it.

Friday afternoon featured an interview at federally qualified health center (that’s FQHC, for those who care about such things). They were hiring for clinical managers in both their pediatrics and adult medicine departments – sort of an assistant manager who takes care of clinic workflow issues and supervises the LPNs and MAs, leaving the managers to, ¬†you know, manage.

Truth be told, I loved this too. Shit.

I interviewed with their HR rep, and the managers of both departments. The peds manager practically had me convinced to sign the dotted line right then and there. It was obvious they all loved their jobs and they were super committed to working in community health. It was also obvious I would get to utilize my CNL skills like nobody’s business. I actually caught myself googling the local nursing school where I’d been discussing an oncology NP option with the program director, and checking to make sure they had primary care NP options in both peds and adult medicine. They did.

I’m in trouble, in other words.

Financially, the position would be salaried and at its base, my annual income would actually be MORE than working night shift in the hospital (however, factoring in overtime and weekend differentials, that’s probably not actually the case). And I’d be qualified for goo gobs of federal loan repayment options if I worked at an FQHC. By golly, my current student loan debt could in essence go “poof”.

But there isn’t the partnership opportunity with the local nursing school to pay my tuition. So my past loans could get paid off nicely but any future loans would be another story (you can’t do loan repayment AND federal nursing scholarship at the same time). Granted, if I stayed in community health that wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, as I’d be able to re-up for future loan repayment assistance for my DNP program once I was finished with my existing service obligation. And there are always scholarships. Many, many scholarships, especially if you want to go into primary care.

So herein lies the dilemma…I was sold by two different work settings and beyond excited about the idea of working at either one. One tugs at my heartstrings because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do – be an oncology nurse and support people facing a journey I know all too well. Despite my anxiety about acute care, I know that for my own sake, I need to overcome my fears and continue to develop my skills.

The other job pulls at my social justice-oriented, community-health loving do-gooder identity and quietly reminds me that I earned this CNL certification for a reason and I should put those skills to good use. Especially at an FQHC.

I guess I should be thankful. I win either way.

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