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'The ER chose me' | How two healthcare workers found their calling

Audrey Mills and Cary Hamilton both had longtime careers in fields that had not much to do with (human) healthcare. Still, they both yearned for something more.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Great Resignation isn't just for young people. Two current caregivers proved this to be true after they both left positions they held for long periods of time. Why would they do this? They both heard a calling to be in one specific field.

Audrey Mills and Cary Hamilton both had longtime careers that had not much to do with (human) healthcare. Still, they both yearned for something more. 

Prior to becoming a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Bartlett, Audrey Mills was a zookeeper at The Memphis Zoo. 

"I have always loved animals," the emergency department manager said. "I have always been a caretaker of any kind. The longer I became a zookeeper, the more I felt this calling to do something greater."

Cary Hamilton shares a similar story. Before he became a registered nurse, he was a service manager at a car lot. Then, he made what he calls a "drastic career switch."

"I had some health issues of my own," he said. "The economy had taken a dive. The car business was not the place to be at that point in time. I gave up everything. I literally went to being broke to go back to school, and yeah, that was very tough to do because I had a family to support."

Still, he said there are similarities in the fields he has worked in.

"It's all about taking care of people," Hamilton said. "Whether you are in sales or in healthcare ... to know that you have changed somebody's life—it's just an awesome feeling."

Mills said there's a certain kind of person that has to be a caregiver. 

"We get a satisfaction from that because we get to take care of people—we get to serve them," she said. 

Mills could tell early on that she was fitting in with the people she would be working with.

"I did not choose the ER," she said. "The ER chose me. The type of people that you are surrounded by in an emergency department—those were my type of people, instantly. It drew me in. I fit right into it."

Hamilton said he did choose the ER "because you can't just make this stuff up."

"People come in here all the time with the craziest things that have happened to them—the craziest stories," he said. "It could be one of the most funniest things in the whole wide world or one of the saddest things in the world. It can go in either direction."

When it comes to big career changes, Mills said age is "just a number."

"You can start over at any point in time as long as you are driven to do that," she said.

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