It’s never too late to find a new career. Just ask John Hales, Paul Houck and Shawn Souders, who found their dream jobs as nurses after following different career paths.

John Hales, RN, Progressive Care Unit

John Hales, RNOne night, on the drive home from his newspaper job in 2011, John felt less than satisfied about his day. “I wasn’t very excited about what I accomplished. I didn’t feel I had impacted anyone’s life,” he recalled.

Not long after that night, John experienced a turning point in his life while attending a business meeting in Oklahoma City. When a colleague suffered a seizure, John sprang into action, administered first aid and cleared her airway. “The sense of accomplishment I felt reinforced the idea that I needed to change jobs.” With family encouragement, he made his dream a reality. At age 35, he is now a registered nurse who can’t imagine doing anything else. “I’m surprised how nursing has become very personal for me. I believe feeling someone’s emotional pain helps me do a better job,” said John, who joined the staff in January.

Paul Houck, BSN, RN, Progressive Care Unit

Paul Houck, RNDinner conversations at the Houck household often involve bodily fluids and other healthcare topics. It’s routine for Paul and his wife, who is also a nurse, and their son Caleb, a sophomore pharmacy student. Paul previously worked at Gulf Oil and Coca-Cola, but when Caleb broke his elbow at age 5, Paul became his primary care provider. “Caleb had a 23-day ICU stay, 18 surgeries and a near amputation,” Paul recalled. Paul helped him through 1½ years of physical therapy at home and at Children’s Mercy Hospital. “Those days were tough and painful for Caleb and that was hard for my wife to see. The experience started my interest in healthcare, and Caleb is the reason I work as a nurse today.”

Now in his 10th year as a nurse, he still finds it his most rewarding career.

Shawn Souders, BSN, RN, CVICU

Shawn Souders, RNShifting from assembly line work to patient care is as diverse as careers come, but Shawn has successfully made the switch. When years of repetitive tasks impacted his health, he returned to school to find his next career. Along the way, he met two male nurses who encouraged him to pursue nursing. “I’ve always been the type of guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Shawn explained. “As a nurse, it helps me when I connect with people who aren’t at their best and it lifts them up.”

When Shawn returned to school for his nursing degree, he got an unexpected benefit: a renewed closeness with his sons, Zack and Jacob. “They saw me go back to school at age 37, and it showed them you can do anything, regardless of your age,” Shawn said.