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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There's Always Sick People

by Tanta on 3/26/2008 05:14:00 PM

Some of you have wondered from time to time what all the employment casualties of the credit and housing busts are going to do next.

This ought to keep you up at night:

NEW YORK ( -- When Heidi Sadowsky quit the finance sector, she abandoned a job market on the verge of collapse for one that may be air-tight: nursing.

"I was never happy in my life in finance," said Sadowsky, 39, a former liaison for institutional investors and money managers at Citibank and Invesco. "I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. I decided I had to get out of this business. I was never cut out for this."

Inspired by the compassion of nurses who cared for her terminally ill father, Sadowsky took up training last year at New York University's College of Nursing. Since she already had an undergraduate degree, she was accepted into the nursing school's accelerated 15-month bachelors program and she expects to graduate in May. . . .

Sadowsky picked the right time to switch careers. The finance sector has shed 124,000 jobs since the beginning of 2007, according to the Department of Labor, including 22,000 jobs in the first two months of this year. Major firms like Bear Stearns (BSC, Fortune 500), Merrill Lynch (MRL) and Sadowsky's old employer Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) have been hard-hit by the subprime collapse, and analysts expect up to 30,000 more job cuts in finance by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, hospitals, clinics and nursing schools are scrambling to fill vacant positions for nurses and teaching staff. The Department of Labor estimates the number of vacancies for registered nurses will expand to 800,000 in 2020, from its 2005 tally of 125,000.
I can pretty much vouch for the fact that having an undergraduate business degree and years of experience in finance qualifies you to give other people heart attacks. But is it really the kind of experience that should let you cram nursing school into 15 months?
"Tradition holds that a guy's going to be a doctor, and the female is going to be a nurse," Neville Lewis, 40, an NYU nursing student who is married to an RN.

Like Sadowsky, Lewis abandoned finance to take up nursing. Since he already had a bachelor's, he qualified for NYU's accelerated 15-month program. Lewis said he majored in political science and mass communications at Midwestern State University in Texas, and then embarked on a 15-year career in the bond and IPO sector at the investment firms Equiserve (now Computershare) and Fidelity Investments.

"I kind of fell into finance after graduation," said Lewis, who had felt the lucrative pull of the finance sector. "You make a lot of money, but do you enjoy it? I was not happy."

After getting laid off from Equiserve in 2002, Lewis took a job at Fidelity and considered going back to school to pursue tax law. But he changed his mind, quit Fidelity in 2007, and started at NYU's nursing school in January, 2008. He expects to graduate in 2009.

"I felt like I could accomplish more by working to heal people, then by helping people fight over money," he said. And as he watched his former sector collapse, Lewis realized that altruism wasn't the only motive to get into nursing.

"Seeing what's happening now, I have no regrets in leaving finance," he said. "People are always going to be sick. We live in an aging society."