General Questions About Nursing

  1. Hi,

    I am thinking of becoming a Registered Nurse. This would be my second career; obviously I would have to start school. I am 32.

    You all might think these questions are silly and amaterrish, but I really would appreciate your input, since I have no experience and I don't know where else to turn.

    First, I know that nurses must have care and compassion for people, and I do. I care very much about people. However, I am on the shy side, and not great at small talk. My question is...is being good with patients a gift, or a skill that can be acquired with experience? I mean, I have good verbal communication skills; I just worry that I will feel awkward talking to strangers about their medical problems, at least at first. That is why I want to know if it's something you get used to.

    Second, on a similar note, I know that I will see things that I am not used to seeing. I know that there will be blood, along with every other bodily fluid, that I will see every day. Intellectually, I have no problem with this. I know this is part of nursing, and part of people being human beings. But I don't know how I will feel when I am actually seeing it for real. Do nursing students ever have to overcome weak stomachs? My stomach is actually stronger than most people's, but I know that nothing I have seen in my life has prepared me for what I will see as a nurse.

    Third, I am afraid I will hurt someone by mistake. For example, I know I will need to insert needles into the veins of patients. That makes me nervous in and of itself! But what if I miss the vein? What if I hurt the person while trying? Is it normal to have these concerns, or am I being ridiculous?

    I guess what I am getting at is this...I have read everything I can about nursing, about going to school, about different career paths, etc. But none of this will tell me what it's really like to give a stranger a bath. I am confident that nursing is right for me, but not so sure that I am right for nursing. I am scared, and I would want to be a good nurse that people felt comfortable with. Otherwise, why do it?

    When you all started out as nurses, were you afraid too? I have worked in the corporate world for my entire career, so this is a huge transition for me.

    Obviously, I am a confused mess! Any insight would be appreciated.
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   GraceM
    Duh...I spelled amateurish wrong. Typo. I do know how to spell. :-)
  4. by   lindalee
    Ok Grace, I will try to answer. I have been a registered nurse since l965 and have worked nearly that entire time so have a lot of experience.

    Talking with patients--you talk about whatever, not only medical issues. You talk just like you talk in your corporate/regular world to people and you will be fine. Patients do not see you as a stranger, you will be their nurse. Medical knowledge comes with time and experience. You can always say you are unsure and remind your patient to talk to his/her physician about their concerns. I am shy outside of the hospital but never at work. I have no problem telling a patient I really do not know but that we can discuss it with his/her physician when they make rounds. You can also ask co-workers or do your own research when you first start your nursing career. I still learn something new each day, nursing continually changes and you will never know everything.

    Fear of what you will see and how you will react. Well, know that I passed out at my first delivery. I got up again (with help) and have never had a repeat preformance. You must remember that your studies will help prepare you for what you will see. Sometimes you will see awful sites but you will be very busy helping to stabilize the patient and I have always found that I was too busy thinking about what must be done to keep my patients alive/safe/supported through whatever has befallen them to worry about what I was seeing. You will do fine as you learn to react appropiately to handle each crisis as it unfolds.
    (By the way, I was pregnant and working in the ER--I was fine with everything but would vomit if someone vomited--only the first three months--thank God.---very embarassing)

    No one likes to hurt someone. IV's can hurt but they save lives. Everyone misses an IV on occasion. We do painful things at times but we also have the ability to eliminate or diminish pain. It is all part of the job. I always apologise when I must do something painful, but if something must be done then that is the way it is. You simply explain what you are going to have to do, be as gentle as possible and do it. As your skill level increases you will miss IV's less often and become more skilled in doing procedures in ways to minimize discomfort. There is sometimes just no way to make something pain free--you have to accept that and remember why it is being done. The goal is to keep your patient alive and return to optimum health.

    When we started out as nurses, were we afraid too?? Well of course we were. And don't be fooled, sometimes we still are. You simply learn to cope with situations and keep yourself well in control, no one would ever guess what you may feel. Is nursing right for you--Maybe. Only trying will really answer that question. If you do not try nursing, you will never know and perhaps always regret not trying. Nursing is both a good and a very difficult profession. It is undergoing some changes--probably radical changes are going to occur with the shortage and all the current labor problems. We would love you to go to school and join us. We need younger nurses who will be willing to stand up and be heard, as well as give good patient care. Perhaps your experience in the corporate world will have helped prepare you to help lead us through our current nursing crisis. Good luck to you whatever you decide.
  5. by   NurseDennie
    I agree with everything Linda said. I also would like to add that I think that being at ease in conversation is a gift for some people, but I learned it as a skill. I'm naturally a bit reserved and stand-offish until I know somebody WELL.

    The first patient my first year in nursing school - I paced up and down outside her room for SEVERAL minutes before I worked up the nerve to knock and enter. I found, and perhaps it would be helpful to you, that "The Nurse" (e.g., ME) is almost always welcome. That's a good thing to have in mind. Also, having that role of "the nurse" helps in conversation, as well.

    Also, yes, many nurses have to overcome squeamishness! One of my classmates seriously questioned her choice of careers whilst still in school - if anybody threw up, or pooped, she threw up and cried. She got over it and she's a great nurse.

    I think maybe you could get an idea of how much you'd like nursing by taking a job as a tech (or CNA or whatever they're called in your neck of the woods).

    And agreeing with Linda again! Yes, we were all scared as new nurses. I think anybody who isn't is going to be a scary nurse!! And yes, it's still scary from time to time. I remember emailing my best friend from a computer on my lunch-hour that I don't like being a nurse, I'm not good at it, and I want to go home. That got it off my chest, and I went back to work and carried on.

    One of the many really cool things about nursing is that there are SO many facets of it. If you don't like one thing, then you can try another. It's amazing, really.

    Good luck in your decision and with your education if you decide to go for it!

    Love

    Dennie
  6. by   Cameo
    Girls, Thanks so much for asking the questions and giving such wonderful, encouraging answers!!!
    I am a brand new LPN student, concerned (uh, scared to death) about all the same things.
    I really needed that.
    Thanks!
    Cameo
    P.S. Any other info is much appreciated!!!!
  7. by   micro
    linda lee, nurse dennie and cameo........said it all.......

    so i don't have too except to echo............

    so echoing.....................lol
  8. by   semstr
    Do what you feel is right, want to be a nurse? Be one!!
    We all were afraid in the beginning, and sometimes I still am!
    I am a nurse educator and every time I get a new class, my pulse is pretty high and I've got a peculiar feeling in my belly.
    Same thing happens, when I go to the wards with my students and we get a patient to take care of and I don't know him. (We always start in LTC, so I know most of the patients there)
    But over the years you'll get experience to fall back on, because you learn every single day of your life.

    And don't forget, you are 32 you've got so many life-experiences already, so you can use them!!
    Go for it!!

    Take care, Renee

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General Questions About Nursing