Reader Poll: What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

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“Take everything in stride. Work through the difficult times and enjoy the good ones. You stress about too much stuff you can't fix.”

— Jenifer Morey, LNHA, Administrator, Arma Health and Rehab, Arma, KS

“Get your master's degree early. If I'd done that, I'd have advanced in my career faster. I put my advancement career on the back burner to help put my three kids through college. But in hindsight, it was probably doable for all of us to be working forward at the same time.”

— Terry Hylton, Director of Nursing, Providence Transitional Care, Anchorage, AK

“Realize this industry is about service. If you're not into service, don't get into it. That's the big skill we need. You have to have that mindset because you have to deal with all the problems. That's like you can get into a fight with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] or you can work with them.”

— Ben Carotenuto, Regional VP of Operations, Consulate Management Company, Maitland, FL

“I have four daughters, and the youngest one is 22 and a nursing home administrator. So I'd tell my younger self to become an administrator when you're younger. I was a recreational therapist for 10 years before becoming an administrator at age 34. I love it. If you start 10 years younger, you'll know so much more and the pay is better, so you might be able to retire earlier.”

— Maureen Cahill, Administrator, Spurgeon Manor, Dallas Center, IA

“Don't get hung up on learning how to do every special task. Everything will change constantly. Instead, ask what will be your process for learning new things? It's true with everything, from I.V. pumps to dressings. I've been in this business almost 24 years, and it's better to have a process to keep learning.” 

— Nora Holliday, RN, Director of Nursing, Maine Veterans' Homes, Scarborough, ME

“Pay attention to your data. A lot of times people didn't think they needed to know rehospitalization rates or infections. It's a data-driven industry. We should have paid attention to this a lot earlier.”

— Kim Cox, Director of Clinical Services, Health Services, Cleveland, TN

“Tell myself nobody said it would be easy, but it would be worth it. I don't know how many people discouraged me from becoming an administrator, saying I wouldn't have time for my kids or an outside life. But I got licensed right out of school. It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it.”

— Nicole Andujo, LNFA, Administrator, Trisun Care Center Northeast El Paso, El Paso, TX

“Stay in school and get a higher degree. You'll have more opportunities and can earn more earlier. I was an RN who got her administrator's license. Get your administrator's license as early as you can. Just go for it.”

— Judith Litchfield, Assistant Director of Nursing, Nebosha County Nursing Home, Philadelphia, MS