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Second Careers: Nurse

Former lab chemist transferred his skills

spinner image nurse Robert McManus
Poon Watchara-Amphaiwan

ROBERT “MACK” McMANUS, 63 | $70,000 a year

"Don’t underestimate how many skills from your previous work ... are transferable."

Home: Lexington, S.C.

Previous life: Lab chemist in hazardous waste industry

Why he did it: One morning, driving to work, I suddenly decided to give nursing a shot. I gave notice the moment I walked in the door, and applied to nursing programs at two universities the same day.

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How he succeeded: As a new student, I had to catch up on subjects like anatomy, physiology, microbiology and pathophysiology. To bring in money, I unloaded trucks at 3 a.m.

What you need to know: Don’t underestimate how many skills from your previous work, like problem-solving, are transferable. I was surprised how well I understood the circulatory system. The heart is a pump. In my work as a hazardous waste manager, I’d operated plenty of them!

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