Amid nursing shortage, two people switch careers to better serve Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As healthcare workers continue to grapple with working through a pandemic, the U.S. is still in the middle of a major nurse shortage.

In fact, the nation’s shortage of nurses is expected to surpass 500,000 by 2025.

Some people are making career switches to help fill the gap.

FOX13 spoke with two ER nurses at St. Francis- Bartlett Hospital who discovered their call to nursing as a second career.

They said entering a new line of work can be daunting, but they want people to know it is not impossible.

For Cary Hamilton and Audrey Mills, working as nurses in the ER is more than a job. It’s a calling.

“Honestly, it’s the comradery,” Hamilton said. “The team I work with is a relationship like no other.”

“I love having the opportunity to take care of people and have that calmness during times of emergencies when they don’t know what is going on,” Mills said. “I like being able to provide that.”

Hamilton and Mills didn’t always know this is what they were called to do. They both started out in different careers.

“Actually, I started out in the car business, and the car business was really good for me until the economy took a crash,” Hamilton said.

“I originally started as a zookeeper at the Memphis Zoo,” Mills said.

As a car fanatic and an animal lover, Hamilton and Mills enjoyed their jobs, but they wanted something more.

Knowing they loved helping people; they went back to school.

Eventually, they were led down a non-traditional path to nursing.

“There is a shortage of nurses. So, we’ve been picking up extra shifts doing our best to make sure patient care is top notch regardless of whether we are short staffed or not,” Hamilton said.

“Nursing, healthcare in general, and EMS, all of that has to be something that feels right in our soul kind of calling for you to do, because it is tough,” Mills said.

Working through a pandemic and a nursing shortage hasn’t been easy, but Hamilton and Mills wouldn’t have it any other way.

They want other people to know it’s never too late to make a change.

“Even if it’s not nursing, it’s just never too late to change,” Hamilton said. “Put your best foot forward and keep moving. You can accomplish anything you want to accomplish.”

More than a quarter of second-career nurses are over the age of 40, according to the American Nurses Association.

Many schools now offer accelerated BSN programs online that make it easier than ever to earn a degree and qualify to be a nurse.