Honest opinions needed

  1. 0
    Hello! I am new here and I'm hoping a nurse here will be able to help me out.

    Some of the questions I have are not that I am considering nursing solely for the money or that at other times I am belittling the profession. When choosing a career there are a range of issues that pop up and that must be addressed if one is going to be happy in the long run.

    So, I am in pharmacy school and frankly, I'm considering a career change for many reasons. While in retail pharmacy, the opportunity is there to make a six figure salary, the work is unbelievably boring. I wanted to be a clinical pharmacist, however, my grades will not help me reach that goal. Furthermore, the workload is pretty intense and I just don't feel like having to memorize a ton of stuff. Some courses like complex dosage calculations (milimoles, E values, mEq) and medicinal chemistry, while hectic, aren't too bad if you truly understand what you are doing. I just don't like all the memorization stuff.

    So I'm contemplating two career options: nursing and engineering.

    As you might have guessed, I like math and physics and I could start a mechanical/aerospace possibly this fall. Issue is, I've done so much of the other science (pathophysiology, microbiology, biochemistry etc...) that I am forcing myself over the summer to review calculus in preparation for calculus 2. In short I have to take more math (time consuming) and review physics for engineers.

    Nursing, I never thought about this career before. It seems to have gotten competitive, requiring many students to get top scores to matriculate. The thing is, I have no clue (beyond the usual admin meds to patients) what nurses do. I have read here that many nurses are somewhat overwhelmed when they have to help a patient "bathing in his/her urine and feces". While I have heard fear of poking someone with a needle can be overcome, having to clean someone is the least glamorous part of nursing imho. When a family member was in the hospital, in fact, we bathe him most of the time (which we proudly did given family... etc). I'm not sure, in all honesty, nurses can attest that if this is something they do many times a day, that they enjoy doing this.

    How often do you have to clean a patient?
    What field of nursing deal the least with that kind of stuff?
    How much do nurses earn? (I know of someone who is a nurse and seems to be living very comfortably)
    What makes a nurses job stressful?
    Is it physical or mostly mental?


    As you can see, I have lots of questions. I know some of you will say that I need to work in a hospital to really find out. I concur but there is no pause button in life. Decisions must be made sometimes given the situation. I took the Kaplan exam and did well. I submitted the application and now I will find out soon if I made the cut. But, I'm nervous.

    While money is not everything, it pays to go into a career where you make enough money to live comfortably. Also, nursing seems appealing because it is a stable career while engineering is not. And also, to be honest, I had aspirations of working for NASA as a future aerospace engineer and as you can guess, friends and families surely are thinking that I may be nuts since both careers are so far apart. Please help. Give me whatever info that might make me a better nurse while enjoying the profession.
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  4. 26 Comments so far...

  5. 3
    I think you should try job shadowing at a local hospital to get a better feel for what it's like being a nurse. Try a med-surg unit, since it will give you a good overall picture of nursing. It is a very stressful job, and the schooling does involve a lot of memorization. I find that it's been both intellectually and emotionally challenging, going through nursing school

    As for these questions:

    How often do you have to clean a patient?

    This completely depends on what area you're going into, but you're definitely going to have to clean patients at some point. It isn't really as bad as I thought it would be. Again, if you spend some time shadowing on a normal med-surg unit, you'll get a better idea as to whether this will bother you or not.

    What field of nursing deal the least with that kind of stuff?

    I'd say the fields of nursing that deal the least with this stuff would be administration, public health, or something like that, but these fields generally want experience. New grads are having problems getting jobs right now and pretty much have to take what they can get. So, it's very likely that you'll spend the first year or so at least doing that kind of stuff.

    How much do nurses earn? (I know of someone who is a nurse and seems to be living very comfortably)

    Depends on the area. Check out your local paper or careerbuilder website to get a good idea, since pay is often listed on these sites. New grads in my area start out at $18-23.00/hr.

    What makes a nurses job stressful?

    Too much to do and too little time, high patient loads/acuity, loads of paperwork, the stress of knowing a mistake you make can kill somebody, etc. To get really good insight on these, browse this website's forums or type something like "cons of nursing" into the google search engine, and you'll get a really good overview of this.

    Is it physical or mostly mental?

    Both. Physically, nursing is hard on your back and knees. You have to do a lot of lifting, and you're on your feet for 12+ hrs at a time. Emotionally, it can be very stressful dealing with dying pts, stressed out family, too many patient demands and not enough time, etc.
    Moogie, canoehead, and Whispera like this.
  6. 2
    Easy to answer
    1. you never stop cleaning pts
    2. Management
    3. Not enough
    4. Everything
    5. Both
    canoehead and Nurse_Diane like this.
  7. 1
    My daughter is entering high school and has a high math/science aptitude. She's been invited to an engineering program while in high school. She at one time talked about becoming a nurse, because I'm doing it so of course it's cool. I talked to her about what a nurse does, and she was fine with that, but she also thought that nurses have a lot more to do with patient diagnosing (the medical diagnosis, not a nursing diagnosis) than they actually do.

    The biggest thing that helped her decide to stay the course with engineering is that the child LOVES math. I mean seriously LOVES math. While I do not want to belittle the math that nurses do for drug calculations, because it's so critical that we not mess it up, in the math world it's just not very complicated or advanced math. I showed her one of the most complex drip calculations that is in my book, and she was shocked. She said "Mom, I was doing that math in 5th grade". (She was in an accelerated math program.) She was even more shocked when I told her that many of the people she'd be working with as a nurse are seriously challenged by this level of math. She decided that while she still doesn't know what area of engineering she wants to go into, that's the general direction she's heading into.

    I'm telling you this long story because you need to think about how much you love math and science. Nursing requires a core knowledge of quite a bit of *natural* science, but doesn't use much if any in the way of physics and "hard" science. If you truly love working with math and "hard" science, and want to be working with people at that level in those areas, you may not find nursing to be a good option for you.

    I would strongly recommend that you find a way to shadow a nurse in his/her job, or find some nurses to have an in-depth conversation with regarding what nursing entails.

    Now, there *are* some areas of nursing, specifically research, that I understand to be much heavier in both the higher math and the "hard" science. Those areas require more schooling and advanced degrees, usually, but if you can research more about them, it might be a nursing area that holds a lot of interest for you. One of the things that attracts me so much about nursing is that there are myraid areas to work in so if one specialty doesn't work out, others might be just right.
    GM2RN likes this.
  8. 0
    1.How often do you have to clean a patient?
    This entirely depends on the field you go into. If you go into endo/out patient surgery or even minor inpatient surgery - never. Med/Surg/ICU depends on your population. I work Med/Surg/Ortho so even though a lot of our population is elderly I would say I end up giving like complete clean ups maybe a couple times a month. Honestly its not nearly as bad as you think it is.

    2. What field of nursing deal the least with that kind of stuff?
    That deals with patients that will go home shortly be out patient surgery/endoscopy/infusion/management/education

    3.How much do nurses earn? (I know of someone who is a nurse and seems to be living very comfortably)
    I earn about $30-35/hr

    4. What makes a nurses job stressful?
    Dealing with people (whether it be doctors/patients/families/management) however you have a job to do, you learn to do it.

    5. Is it physical or mostly mental?
    Again depends entirely on the area in which you work in. One of the reasons I like Med/Surg is its both. Granted with ortho patients the work can be very physically like moving someone from the bed to the chair. Often times these patients can do very little to help themselves and its more like you and one or two friends carry them to the chair and back to bed. But then again you always have to be watching for slight changes in patients conditions that could be warning signs of a complication.

    I have to say I really do enjoy my job though. I can't really think of anything else I'd prefer to do, well other than like shop all day. =D
  9. 0
    I can tell you that for me, I went into nursing because I want to help people, make a difference. I've been in nurse management and wasn't completely happy because I missed my pts.

    I work on an oncology floor which also has a mixture of med-surg. I work 12 hr shifts. It is very physically demanding. I literally walk for 12 hrs. I have to take advil regularly to get through my shifts. Some weeks I have 2 or 3 pts out of 5 that have 2-3 stools a piece that need to be cleaned. Some weeks it's none. This week I had one that literally went continuously in the bed. The good aspects were I also was able to be there to emotionally support 2 pts with new diagnosis. I also love giving chemo for the pharmokinetics aspect and the monitoring it requires.

    I have a daughter who is going into aero engineering. She loves physics, is good at math and just started flying. The classes for the 1st 2 yrs of aero are so intense that I think a passion is needed in order to proceed.
  10. 0
    Quote from theantichick
    My daughter is entering high school and has a high math/science aptitude. She's been invited to an engineering program while in high school. She at one time talked about becoming a nurse, because I'm doing it so of course it's cool. I talked to her about what a nurse does, and she was fine with that, but she also thought that nurses have a lot more to do with patient diagnosing (the medical diagnosis, not a nursing diagnosis) than they actually do.

    The biggest thing that helped her decide to stay the course with engineering is that the child LOVES math. I mean seriously LOVES math. While I do not want to belittle the math that nurses do for drug calculations, because it's so critical that we not mess it up, in the math world it's just not very complicated or advanced math. I showed her one of the most complex drip calculations that is in my book, and she was shocked. She said "Mom, I was doing that math in 5th grade". (She was in an accelerated math program.) She was even more shocked when I told her that many of the people she'd be working with as a nurse are seriously challenged by this level of math. She decided that while she still doesn't know what area of engineering she wants to go into, that's the general direction she's heading into.

    I'm telling you this long story because you need to think about how much you love math and science. Nursing requires a core knowledge of quite a bit of *natural* science, but doesn't use much if any in the way of physics and "hard" science. If you truly love working with math and "hard" science, and want to be working with people at that level in those areas, you may not find nursing to be a good option for you.

    I would strongly recommend that you find a way to shadow a nurse in his/her job, or find some nurses to have an in-depth conversation with regarding what nursing entails.

    Now, there *are* some areas of nursing, specifically research, that I understand to be much heavier in both the higher math and the "hard" science. Those areas require more schooling and advanced degrees, usually, but if you can research more about them, it might be a nursing area that holds a lot of interest for you. One of the things that attracts me so much about nursing is that there are myraid areas to work in so if one specialty doesn't work out, others might be just right.
    I must agree with this. If you love math and science nursing is probably not for you. I too was always in advanced math/science, completed 3 years of calc before high school. The people you work with in nursing have trouble often times with simple conversions (you have a 10ml bottle that contains 40mg morphine. Order is for 5mg morphine every 2 hours PRN how much is in 1 dose). That being said I find myself being a resource to my co-workers but if solving complex math problems is something you enjoy to do at work, bedside nursing at least you will find is severely lacking.

    I also would say that while in school it seems that nurses have very little to do with medical diagnoses once you win the respect of doctors they will often turn to you for assistance in determining what you feel to be causing new complaints/concerns. That is a part of my job I do find extremely satisfying. I can't recall a time I have called a doctor saying I think that this pt is suffering from XYZ is it okay if we get an ABC procedure and them not ordering it and usually my assessment proves to be correct.
  11. 0
    Honestly, seriously...engineering is where your talents will best be utilized. I also think you will love it more too. Good luck, peace!
  12. 2
    Go for engineering. Trust me.
    Chin up and Flo. like this.
  13. 1
    Most people have answered the questions on nursing so I will give more specific life advice. Stay in Pharm school. You will make more money, you will never clean a patient, your hours will be much better. If you hurt your back, you will be screwed in your professional and personal life, you wont have to worry about that in Pharm. You will get more respect. And you will be done sooner since you are already in pharm school. One of my friends had the choice, picked nursing and is very regretfull. Logically speaking, and you seem to be that type of person, pharm is a better path.
    Chin up likes this.


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