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Switching gears: How one local woman changed the course of her career after 20 years as a florist

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Posted at 7:23 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 22:08:31-04

PUTNAM COUNTY — Fawn Helmer of Greencastle is a Registered Nurse in the intensive care unit at Putnam County Hospital.

"It's a very emotionally driven job, sometimes it's hard to step away, but it's excessively rewarding,” Helmer said.

But, this isn’t always what she did for work. In fact, this is Helmer’s second career.

Helmer made the change later in life, after 20 years working as a florist. She started in that position while she was still in high school and then continued after graduation. About 10 years ago, she decided she wanted to do something new. She chose to pursue nursing after taking an online quiz. It felt like something she could be good at and ended up being the perfect fit for her.

“Being able to take care of the people I get to see on a daily basis has been phenomenal,” she said.

But it was not easy to make the switch. Helmer had a lot of support from her family, her children and parents stepping up as she went back to school at Ivy Tech in Terre Haute.

"They kept encouraging me to keep going,” Helmer explained.

It took her four years to complete her degree and she continued working while in school. Helmer graduated in 2013 and worked in several different specialties.

"I first started out in postpartum care then labor and delivery and then I switched to Putnam County and went into the surgery department and that took a huge hit due to COVID."

The last year, easily the most challenging of her nursing career. Helmer was transferred to ICU and also spent time working on the COVID-19 unit.

"Having these families that don't get to go in and see their loved ones. Being the only person that they get to see, and they don't even get to see all of you they just get to see a part of you because you're constantly covered. And just the fear, that has been a challenge but it's also been rewarding because you get to be the hands and feet of those people that love them,” she said.

While it’s been emotional and hard, Helmer can’t imagine doing anything else. She said for anyone considering nursing, look into it and see if it’s right for you.

“Anybody that is looking for a daily challenge, wanting to constantly learn. It's a very rewarding thing to do where you get to make a difference,” Helmer said.

A recent study shows only 17% of second-career Registered Nurses come from a background in healthcare. The other 83% had jobs outside of the industry before switching to nursing. Another study shows that more than a quarter of second-career nurses are 40 years and older, which means it’s never too late to make the change.

A nursing program can take anywhere between 12 months and four years depending on what kind of credentials you want to earn.