Hi all! I've been on this forum for a while and mostly read (cause I can't post in most forums)...

I have a serious debate going on with myself right now. I have been working in a level III Neonatal ICU for the last 2 1/2 years. This past January, I started working in a CVICU in a major teaching hospital in the Texas Medical Center (one of the two biggies for heart surgery). Things are going fine, I've been off orientation since the middle of April.

However..... I had to take a major cut in pay (lost $6/hr) to take this position because I had been working on a weekend contract in the NICU. This is already affecting our finances at home and I have at least another 1 1/2 years before I apply to CRNA school, so another 2 years of work (assuming I can get in somewhere!). My husband lost his job in March and was out of work for about a month (set us back a little, but we were fine) but took a contract position for less money and is already hearing that the company he works for will not be renewing contracts for the current prices - they will be enforcing pay cuts to anyone that renews their contracts.

I really do enjoy the CVICU atmosphere for the most part. Like anywhere, there are "clicks" and it seems to be difficult to "prove myself". Naturally nobody trusts the new girl. I'm about 15 years older than most of the new grads (so I don't really fit in there) and most of the nurses my age are very experienced (so I don't really fit in there either). I've also just learned that some of the things I was promised when I was hired were not exactly represented properly. Classes that I should be taking (IABP, VADs, transplant) are not available and there are long waiting lists...longer than I really planned on being here. They've already tried to float me to another unit, even though I was supposedly exempt from floating for the first 3 months after coming off orientation. I was hired for weekends so that I could make somewhat comparable money, only to find out later that weekenders are only allowed to work 32hrs/wk rather than 36 and that I'll have to work an "off shift" for the 8 hour shift...not exactly what I was told.

The other hospital that I work at (still in the NICU PRN) is offering a full time weekend contract like I had before, and they have increased the pay by another $4/hr - making it a $10/hr difference from the CVICU.

**if you've followed along this long, thanks...now to my big question**

If I go back to the NICU, I will make an extra $31,200/year over what I'm making now in the CVICU (this includes my regular CVICU hours plus the extra shift I work at the NICU every week now). I keep wondering what good it will do me to have the CVICU experience if I can't afford to go to school when/if I get accepted. Over the next two years, I could make an extra $62,400 (above my current pay) and have that put aside for school. But, how much damage would I do to my chances for admission if I leave the CVICU and return to the NICU?

I have a 3.8 overall GPA, 4.0 sciences and math, and will finish my BSN in May 08. I plan to apply for school for fall 09 admission. At that time I will have 4 years of experience. I will also sit for the CCRN sometime this year. Oh, and the four schools I plan to apply for say they will take NICU experience, although I know CVICU would be strongly preferred.