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Why I Went from Nursing to Real Estate

I received my RN in 1987. I graduated from an "old school" 3-year diploma program. For those who don't understand what that means - it's an 3-year intensive and clinically oriented education. Nurses who graduate from these schools are hands-on and ready to go on graduation day. I took care of a patient with an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) as a nursing student. That is the preparation I had as a student. I started practice in Illinois as an RN in Surgical Intensive Care after graduation.

Once my tuition contract obligation was completed - I moved to Savannah, GA and worked Trauma ICU. At the time there was an extreme nursing shortage nationwide so I signed up with a travel company and traveled across the country as a "traveling nurse". I worked in Palm Springs, CA, Sacramento, CA, Dallas, TX, Long Island, NY, and Orlando, FL. I spent my travel time working in critical care and met some the most amazing people. While traveling, I specifically paid attention to the areas I was working in as consideration for a place to settle and "grow roots.”

After two and a half years, I found myself back in Savannah, GA enrolling in grad school. It seemed that all the traveling I did simply confirmed that Savannah was the best place for me. The other areas were great, but Savannah was something special - the people, the pace, the beach, the beauty, the lifestyle, and the cost of living. No-where else compared.

I was 27 when I returned to Savannah and needed a place to live. I went to rent a place, and the agent steered me to buying a home (thankfully). Her name was Regina Herzog, who recently passed away. (see my tribute to Regina HERE)

My new home came with a new wife who happened to be a part of a big real estate family. She was born and raised in the business, and I knew nothing more than healthcare. Over the years I advanced my career in healthcare, eventually climbing to a position over Emergency and Trauma Services at Memorial Hospital. I worked in that role for 5 years.

I left the role of administration in healthcare and was planning to return to the bedside when my mother-in-law, who owned a growing real estate company, asked me to help her with "Y2K" transition. The year was 1999. I'd spent some time in IT so I was happy to help. This was my first taste of real estate. Within 6 months of working in a real estate company, I had my license.

I first specialized in the sale of foreclosure homes. The real estate company owned by my mother-in-law was in need of an instructor. I took my passion for teaching nurses how to be nurses to the real estate classroom. Since then, I have taught real estate.

So why did I leave nursing behind? After 20 plus years in healthcare, missing Christmas mornings, the Easter Bunny, countless holidays, baseball and football games - I had found a niche. In real estate, you don't miss the important things in life. If you took a 20 plus years in health care salary - from the salary I started with in 1987 and adjusted for inflation, the pay wasn't that much different. In real estate, you control your salary. You "own" your business. You become an employer - not an employee. The only limit to your salary is you.

As a Registered Nurse, you are a patient advocate. Accountability for their care rests at your feet. When you take a patient to a CAT scan - you are the sole source of information for the patient. If things go sideways, all eyes are on you. You are accountable to that patient and their health and well-being. You must question everything - even those things that are provided by your patient’s doctors. If they write a prescription for a drug your patient is allergic to, you cannot hide behind their mistake. And yes, even when a family member tells you they "know exactly what is wrong" you must listen objectively and act accordingly, remembering the patient is your primary concern. There is no room to be judgmental. All patients, no matter their race, religion, criminal history, sex, sexual preferences, age, or creed get your highest and best care. This is programmed into your brain on day one of nursing school.

Compare this with real estate. The real estate agent representing a client owes absolute loyalty to their client. Accountability rests at the broker’s feet in assuring the needs of the client are met. They must question everything to the benefit of their client. They are accountable to see all timelines are met, all disclosures are provided, and all information for which they make their decisions is accurate. When things go sideways, all eyes are on the real estate agent. Even when their family member "knows exactly what is wrong with the house,” the real estate agent must listen objectively and act accordingly. Informed decisions are a staple of guiding a buyer through the process, just as informed decisions are required for health care.

Many of you have been in a hospital. Most likely, it was a life event. Many of you have purchased a home - also most likely a life event. Your memories are arranged around these events – “that was before the accident,” or “when we lived in that house.” Health and home are intertwined.

Although different subject matter, both professions require the same dedication to the constant pursuit of knowledge and understanding. They require an ability to reflect on one’s actions and make course corrections. The ability to see a set of circumstances and intuitively know something is wrong or right. Admission to a hospital and buying or selling a home is an emotional roller coaster ride. Those that you advocate for are in need of the facts, delivered with compassion and conveyed in a manner to ensure not only the message has been sent, but also received.

So, when people ask me why real estate instead of nursing, my response is this: the skills I learned in nursing are nearly identical to those I practice every day in real estate. If not real estate, what else?

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