Perhaps I am taking poetic license in this attempt at answering Tips for your fill-in-the-blank of- your- nursing- specialty article contest, largely as I feel my specialty is nursing. After all, I am older, but not quite old. I have been in the trenches quite a few years (and wish I could be on the benches for some of those days). I am not quite jaded (just a tinge green - maybe bile colored?) but still love what I do. So new nurses, take it from the crusty county nurse: here's what never teach you in nursing school...
Don't do this job for the money. You will make good money, but there are days when no dollar amount will compensate for the indignities and insanity and frustration you will encounter.
Don't do it because "you love" or "are good with" people ~ sick people, (especially the ones in pain, the gang bangers, and the ones with-drawling) aren't always nice people.
Don't do it because there is a shortage and you figured this degree, which they readily sell-I mean- teach online now days, will be quick you'll have an easy job. It's not 9 -5 and even on your best day it's not easy. It's ever easy. This not a job, but a profession, and this profession is emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually challenging.
Don't wear scrub pants with a tight t-shirt which exposes your belly when you reach up to hang an I.V. bag. I say this in part as I readily admit I am envious, (as my belly baring days are long over) but primarily as the practice is simply unprofessional. Yes, it attracts the paramedics/police/doctors. But while you may be the best nurse on the planet, and while no one will tell you this to your face, it puts your credibility on the line. And you've worked too hard for that.
Never swear at a patient or co-worker, no matter how tempted or deserved. You may, however, cry or pray with a patient or co-worker. Try to get along with the co-worker who drives you insane - like it or not, guaranteed you'll need them one day, when your patient is coding or you just can't seem to draw that stat lab or you forgot your lunch. Try to get along with the patient who is driving you insane - like it or not, guaranteed you'll be assigned to them again tomorrow.
Pee when you have to. Eat. You must eat! They don't give a gold medal for missing your break or getting a UTI, and it doesn't make you a better nurse, so just get over that. Honestly.
Yes, care plans are a pain, but they really do exist for a reason.
Remember the basics, and then also remember to think critically. Challenge orders you think are suspect, challenge policies and practices which are unsafe, and challenge yourself, daily, to be as good as you have the potential to be. Do all of this without whining. Love what you do, because you won't always like it. And remember at the end of the day, especially at the end of a really difficult one, remember that you have made a difference. And how many people get to say that?
p.s. if I weren't such a computer dinasaur, I would individually thank all the very kind people who responded to my previous article attempt...each and every comment was very much appreciated.