Has Nursing hardened you?

  1. 5
    Simple question: Has nursing hardened you?

    I'm currently a student, and I have noticed that some of the older clinical instructors are very cold, harsh and indecent towards some of the nursing students, myself included. I know some PCAs. One certain PCA, a 31 year old nursing student w/military experience, referred to some of the nurses on her unit as " cold *******" and said she was afraid after many years of working in the field (after graduating and passing the NCLEX, of course), she will end up just like them. Many of the other nursing students have voiced similar experiences, saying that many of the nurses on their unit were just rude or plain cold.

    This is NOT to attack nurses, but after I had a dentist appointment, I noticed a stark contrast between the happier, less stressed out RDHs from the overly stressed and very cold nurses that I have come across. This is NOT to say that all nurses are like this, I have met some really nice ones (and a couple of really lovely clinical instructors), but in general, the longer one has been in the field of nursing ,the colder and less compassionate one becomes...from my observation. Statistically, 1 out of every 7 nurses will end up with a drug/substance problem (according to my lecture notes)...could it be d/t the stress of nursing?

    So, I was wondering, to all the nurses out there who have been in the field for a long time, how has nursing changed you as an individual? Have you found yourself becoming colder and more detached or more warm and compassionate? Has nursing made you depressed? And finally (and most importantly) do you regret nursing?

    I have found that I have lost apart of my confidence and self-esteem, and nursing seems to have an ugly side to it that really is disappointing. Quoting someone I love, "Upon visiting your nursing school, I have never met a more hostile, unwelcoming, cold environment and I can only imagine what you go through when I'm not around." And this person is fifty.

    Again, this is NOT an attack, but just an observation and things I've experienced first hand and have been told, and I'm wondering about this!
    lindarn, greenemeralda, Joe V, and 2 others like this.
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  3. 154 Comments so far...

  4. 7
    My heart has grown colder and I haven't graduated yet. I don't plan to stay in nursing for too long because I feel my soul being sucked out. I have had scant fulfilling moments in clinical, and it's going to be the same when I'm licensed.
    tkane, beeker, Marshall1, and 4 others like this.
  5. 32
    Wow - don't really know where to start.

    "1 out of every 7 nurses will end up with a drug/substance abuse problem". This is an incredible piece of nonsense... Where is the citation on this factoid? Was this in a lecture or National Enquirer article? One of the hallmarks of professional nursing is critical thinking. This requires the ability to separate fact from fiction - reality from hearsay - and awareness of the effect of personal biases on judgement and reasoning.

    "in general, the longer one has been in the field of nursing, the colder and less compassionate one becomes" And your sample size is? What are your criteria for 'cold and less compassionate?' Would these be experienced nurses that don't provide you with group hugs or gold stars? Nurses that are focused on providing high quality care with increasingly limited resources? Heck, according to you - they're probably just high or stoned, right? Have you considered that maybe they just don't like you?

    Honestly, why in the heck would you even want to become part of the horrible mess that you believe nursing to be? And - for the record - stating one's own opinions as fact in order to impugn an entire profession certainly seems like an attack to me. I'm coming up on 35 years of experience after choosing to enter nursing as a second career. I feel honored to have known and worked alongside so many wonderful nurses who - without fanfare or accolades & in spite of the bureaucracy - dedicate their working hours to improving the lives of others.
    Surprised1, himilayaneyes, tkane, and 29 others like this.
  6. 49
    Of course nursing makes you harder. How could it not?
    How many times do you think you could cower and cry when an MD singles you out, as an object to vent their own anger and frustration?
    How many times do you think you could stand sobbing when a beloved resident dies? Someone you've cared for for years.
    How often do you think you could stand listening to the moans and cries of someone in pain? Either real or fake.
    A nurse simply has to build a wall to protect themselves from the heartbreaking reality of nursing. It doesn't make any of us less effective in our jobs. It doesn't mean I'm cold and heartless. It means I can continue to go to work and return home whole and complete as a human being. Without huge pieces of me being carved out by sick, needy people.
    All of us build walls. Not just in the area of nursing. Sometimes it's not healthy. But as far as nursing goes, I believe it's a self preservation mechanism.
    Last edit by imintrouble on Apr 24, '12 : Reason: add
  7. 16
    Quote from whichone'spink
    My heart has grown colder and I haven't graduated yet. I don't plan to stay in nursing for too long because I feel my soul being sucked out. I have had scant fulfilling moments in clinical, and it's going to be the same when I'm licensed.
    I'm curious: why go through with it if you know you're not going to like the work? Seems like a waste of time and money to me, not to mention a valuable seat in class that other students would dearly love to have. There's nothing wrong with finding out that nursing is not for you---far better to realize it now than later when you're actually working as a nurse---but this sounds like a good time to cut your losses and figure out something you'd really enjoy doing.
    himilayaneyes, tkane, not.done.yet, and 13 others like this.
  8. 16
    as previous posters have mentioned, it would be absolutely impossible to remain an effective nurse and not have it change you in ways it would have been impossible to imagine or predict in advance. we change as we grow older and hopefully mature. it's inevitable. not
    automatically mean or crusty old bat-like, but rather, less willing to be taken advantage of or to let people walk all over you.

    another thing that comes with age is a more heightened and sensitive what my dad used to refer to as a "bs barometer." what that
    means very simply is being able to know when you're being scammed, someone is embellishing or outright lying, or faking to get whatever
    they want.

    i remember my first patient death. vividly. that and all the other patient deaths (ods mostly) along with taking care of my dying
    mother have most certainly changed me.

    don't write us all off yet.
    Last edit by sharpeimom on Apr 26, '12 : Reason: wrong verb form (blush!)
    Surprised1, not.done.yet, DFWgal, and 13 others like this.
  9. 10
    I was hardened coming in.....

    My fathers nickname for me is ROCK

    The key is as a nurse you must be soft yet hard both at the same time....

    We must be there for the pt in a particular junture in time.....but once that shift is over you put those feathers into your hand and blow a breath of air and send them on their way......

    I had a pt go AMA yesterday, he has some real issues and will likely die in a few months without treatment....

    When he was in my care I did my best and he and I really connected......

    When he packed his stuff and left, I said goodbye, he said goodbye and I went to check on my other patients.......
    tkane, CrazyGoonRN, merrywhiterose, and 7 others like this.
  10. 42
    ::sigh:: as sure as god made little green apples, somebody will very soon come along to post something like, "well, i never! ask a heartfelt question and just look at all those heartless mean replies. i guess it's true!" and of course, there will soon follow a chorus of "nety! nety! woe is us, they were mean to me!"

    op, dear, you ain't seen nothing yet if you think this is so terrible. but i must warn you that you can't come waltzing in here and fling around allegations like 1/7 nurses have substance abuse problems and your 50-year-old friend says your nursing school has a nasty aura and expect people to toss you rainbows and violets.

    you are disappointed in nursing? your self-esteem has come a cropper? this is because... nursing isn't...what for you, exactly? uniformly sweetness and light? unfailingly warmly approving of the essence of you? because some nurses sometimes don't have the time of day for you, for whatever reasons? what? at the risk of doing more damage, i must say: it is not about you.

    you must be a fairly young person, judging by the weight you put on someone's age being fifty (oh, to be fifty again!
    :d), and because you don't know that what hardens one is not nursing per se, but having the life experience and perspective that you will get with growing older.

    but i''ll bite. in answer to your questions, no, i've been a cantankerous, but engaged, person who questions assumptions all my life. i am more compassionate with suffering now than i was in my starry-eyed twenties because i have had occasion to suffer a bit, so i am more truly com-passionate, with/sharing the same feelings, than before i lost loved family members of my own and had to work through my own medical crises. i know so much better what to say to a grieving family or a frightened patient, absolutely not to share my own experiences but to help them make sense of their own. the nurse in me has learned more of how to present a therapeutic presence in life than in school.

    i am less apt to let my feelings show to you, though, were you to meet me, because i have also learned to keep them to myself at work. the fact that i am only marginally interested in yours should help teach you the value of keeping yours private as well. were we to work together, you would find me a busy colleague who nevertheless takes the time to answer your questions and has a sincere interest in your professional development, because you are part of our future. but that's as far as it goes. if it's not far enough for you, well, color me heartless.
    Teacher Sue, OCNRN63, SnfRn, and 39 others like this.
  11. 22
    Very large sigh here...as a middle aged multiple decade experienced nurse I am beginning to wonder how I manage to find time to take care of my patients since I seem to spend the majority of my night being angry, uncivil, promoting a hostile work environment, unsupportive, rude, and worst of all completely ignorant of current evidence based practice. I am sure the nursing world would be so much better off if I and all the other crusty old bats just flew back to our caves and never saw the light of day again...too bad, not gonna happen, too much fun to give in now. Grn Tea you nailed it...now to sleep so I can wake up and continue my evil wicked work ways...did I mention I just got a raise, I will need it to support my drug habit. Nobody gives Lyrica And Prilosec away.
  12. 2
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    I'm curious: why go through with it if you know you're not going to like the work? Seems like a waste of time and money to me, not to mention a valuable seat in class that other students would dearly love to have. There's nothing wrong with finding out that nursing is not for you---far better to realize it now than later when you're actually working as a nurse---but this sounds like a good time to cut your losses and figure out something you'd really enjoy doing.
    I'm nearly finished, so those who need seats won't get one from me leaving at this point. I feel myself getting colder not necessarily because of patients. If only I could spend more time with patients. It's the other BS in nursing that is making my heart turn to stone. I have already started planning my next step, and thankfully nursing will help with that. I just can't see myself lasting 20-30 years in nursing itself. There are few nurses I've seen who love what they do even after 30+ years of nursing. Others are waiting to retire now that the economy is slightly better. One 30+ year nurse did just that at the beginning of this year.
    VivaLasViejas and anotherone like this.


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