I'm not sure I'm cut out for this

  1. Quick note - I put this in General Nursing because I want to talk to nurses, not students.

    So I'm working on my nursing school apps now, and I'm about done with my pre-req's. I'm a grown up (37) with previous work experience, kids, a husband, mortgage, etc.

    I'm starting to doubt my decision to go into nursing. Not because I don't think I can do it - I think I can with the proper schooling and training. In fact, I think I'll make a half way decent nurse.

    It's the culture I don't think I can handle. I know not everyone feels this way, so if you don't, please know this doesn't apply to you.

    There seems to be this idea that if you're a nurse, you're special. I don't like this. It's as if you're better, you work harder, you're above other people (similar to teachers honestly). This makes me really, really uncomfortable. It's not just how other people view the profession, it's how some nurses view themselves (in my opinion, of course). It really, really bothers me (as it will apply to me, not as it applies to anyone else). I already get the big eyes, and the hand to the throat and the "I could NEVER do that, you're an angel" when I mention my ambition is nursing. It makes me not even want to mention it. I see shirts that say "I bust my a** so I can save yours" - like that's going to be my job, isn't it?

    I'm not going into nursing because I've been "called" to do so. I want an interesting job, that pays decently and that I get to keep learning at. I'm not really altruistic. I mean, I like helping people, but it's not the driving force of my life.

    I know this probably sounds really dumb, but it's been bothering me for months now. I hate being put on a pedestal, because I guarantee I'm going to fall off. I guess not meeting expectations (regardless of how ridiculous they are) people have of me is a fear of mine. Is this something that I'll get over? Or that will stop bothering me? I hate people thinking that I'm something I'm not.

    Sorry for being ridiculous. Sometimes it slips out.

    Thanks in advance.
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  2. 38 Comments

  3. by   Purple_roses
    There are plenty of nurses who didn't get into nursing for the pure love of people. But no matter your reason for getting into nursing, if you truly are a good nurse, it's a big deal--just like it's a big deal if you're a good engineer, teacher, architect, etc. If you ever feel uncomfortable about someone offering you praise, why don't you ask them to tell you more about their aspirations? I take no issue with people admiring the fact that I'm in nursing, but I never let the "nurse convo" go on for more than a few minutes; I always ask them about their aspirations, their careers, what they've been up to. When both both parties can admire and appreciate each other, there is absolutely no awkwardness.
    Last edit by Purple_roses on Jun 7
  4. by   Horseshoe
    How can you truly know what the "culture" of nursing is if you are not only not a nurse, but not yet even into clinicals yet?

    There is nothing wrong with getting respect for being a nurse. I don't see it as being put on a pedestal at all. For every experience you have where someone elevates you out in the "real" world, you will have several times more experiences within the actual working world that will tell you that you are definitely NOT on any pedestal. If anything, nurses could use a few more kudos on the job.

    I just go to work and do my job. I expect to be paid, treated decently by my employers, and left alone on my days off. In twenty years I have not experienced the kind of cognitive dissonance you are describing with regard to how I see my working environment, my motivations for being there, and how I believe I'm being perceived.

    Perhaps you are overthinking this or something else is really at play.
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    Nursing is an interesting, challenging and flexible job where you not only GET to keep learning; you HAVE to. It's stable pay, good working conditions (indoors with heating or cooling as the season demands and generators for when the lights go out) and the benefits are pretty good. Plus you get the respect of people who know enough about what you do to respect it. Big eyes and hand to the throat are uninformed opinions, and I tend to disregard those.

    If you're worried about being put on a pedestal, don't. What do you care what the average joe out there thinks or doesn't think about your chosen profession? If your husband and kids respect your choice, and perhaps your parents and siblings and best friends, other peoples' opinions don't matter. If it bothers you, tell people you're a flight attendant or, as I did for many years, you work at Accelerated Genetics collecting bull sperm.

    Nurses ARE special -- in the same way that pharmacists, plumbers, teachers, electricians, first responders and senior staff seargants are special. We're not SPECIAL -- and the opinions of those who think that we are matter how much to you? Enough to change your plans, your major, your career?

    Nurses who view themselves as super special because they're nurses, nurses with "the calling" and nurses who wear the T shirts you describe outside their bedrooms . . . Not people who's opinions of me or my career choices interest me. You may have to work with some of them, but you're going to have to work with "interesting people" no matter what your career choice.

    Just develop that dark sense of humor, and try not to take life, your work or yourself TOO seriously. I hope this helps.
  6. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Quote from Horseshoe
    How can you truly know what the "culture" of nursing is if you are not only not a nurse, but not yet even into clinicals yet?

    There is nothing wrong with getting respect for being a nurse. I don't see it as being put on a pedestal at all. For every experience you have where someone elevates you out in the "real" world, you will have several times more experiences within the actual working world that will tell you that you are definitely NOT on any pedestal. If anything, nurses could use a few more kudos on the job.

    I just go to work and do my job. I expect to be paid, treated decently by my employers, and left alone on my days off. In twenty years I have not experienced the kind of cognitive dissonance you are describing with regard to how I see my working environment, my motivations for being there, and how I believe I'm being perceived.

    Perhaps you are overthinking this or something else is really at play.
    Good point. I guess it's my perception of the culture, which isn't necessarily accurate. Thank you for the new perspective.

    It's probable that I'm over thinking it. It's a habit of mine. Several comments in a shirt period got me being me I guess.
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    What Ruby said!
  8. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    I already feel better (and more than a little silly). Thanks for taking the time to answer, everyone! I have a new way to look at things, and I appreciate it.
  9. by   Jeniele
    Hi Jen, I know you wanted advice from nurses and not students but I thought I'd poke my nose in anyway. I start my nursing program this fall and shortly thereafter will celebrate my 42nd birthday, so I get it with wanting a good paying career without all the bubbly altruism. I have worked in a busy regional medical center as a CNA for almost three years now and I can say that at least in my facility the culture just not like what you are fearing. Bravado in nursing exists, but it's mostly on here, kitschy t-shirts and mugs, and TV dramas. The nurses I work with are very humble, view it as a job that exhausts them, and rely heavily on the entire team to get through their day. My nurses also affirm that I am a very valued member of the team, even as a CNA and they take time to help my learn new things knowing that I'm working my way to nursing school. I don't mean for it to sound boring, some shifts are totally not; but for most of us we have very full lives outside work and that is where we focus ourselves. Sure, there is that super-rare individual that feels they need to place a class structure on the them (RNs) vs us (support staff), but mostly everyone ignores them and rolls their eyes and say "what was that about?" when they're out of earshot.
    I apologize that I don't know your situation, but I encourage you to try to work or volunteer in a hospital to really get a feel for what nursing is and if it will be a good fit for you. I mention a hospital in particular because in my personal experience, SNFs can be where bravado pervades and facilities are highly variable in their workload, etc. so they may not necessarily give you a good picture of what it's like to have five patients with acuity all over the place and three call-lights blaring simultaneously. Though seriously, days like that it's a wonder any of us come back the next day, and yet we do. Typically for a paycheck....
    If after that, you decide that nursing isn't a good fit for you and your family; then, with your prerequisites you are set up to get a Bachelor's in Science in a number of fields in short order. Best wishes to you!
  10. by   JBMmom
    I came into nursing as a second career. I never felt particularly called to it, the education I had for my first career made nursing or teaching the easiest second careers for me to consider. Nursing seemed to have a wider range of opportunities, so I picked that. I finished nursing school five years ago, and I really like being a nurse. I don't feel like I'm a better person than others for being a nurse, so I don't project that and no one has initiated any sort of conversation to that effect. I'm a person doing my job just like they're people doing theirs. Just because my job revolves around providing care to others doesn't mean it's better. I wouldn't be interested in being a civil engineer, but we need them otherwise our bridges will fall down. Other people aren't interested in providing care for people, I do that because it's what I'm trained to do. If you don't think it's for you clinically, that's one thing. But I wouldn't dismiss a career based on what someone else might or might not think.
  11. by   WestCoastSunRN
    Quote from Horseshoe
    How can you truly know what the "culture" of nursing is if you are not only not a nurse, but not yet even into clinicals yet?

    There is nothing wrong with getting respect for being a nurse. I don't see it as being put on a pedestal at all. For every experience you have where someone elevates you out in the "real" world, you will have several times more experiences within the actual working world that will tell you that you are definitely NOT on any pedestal. If anything, nurses could use a few more kudos on the job.

    I just go to work and do my job. I expect to be paid, treated decently by my employers, and left alone on my days off. In twenty years I have not experienced the kind of cognitive dissonance you are describing with regard to how I see my working environment, my motivations for being there, and how I believe I'm being perceived.

    Perhaps you are overthinking this or something else is really at play.
    This. All of it. Couldn't have said it better (or nicer).
  12. by   caliotter3
    I don't think you will run into that kind of mindset as often as you seem to think. Nursing also has its moments that contradict this as well. I would not let this keep me from nursing, if you really want to do it.
  13. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Quote from Jeniele
    Hi Jen, I know you wanted advice from nurses and not students but I thought I'd poke my nose in anyway. I start my nursing program this fall and shortly thereafter will celebrate my 42nd birthday, so I get it with wanting a good paying career without all the bubbly altruism. I have worked in a busy regional medical center as a CNA for almost three years now and I can say that at least in my facility the culture just not like what you are fearing. Bravado in nursing exists, but it's mostly on here, kitschy t-shirts and mugs, and TV dramas. The nurses I work with are very humble, view it as a job that exhausts them, and rely heavily on the entire team to get through their day. My nurses also affirm that I am a very valued member of the team, even as a CNA and they take time to help my learn new things knowing that I'm working my way to nursing school. I don't mean for it to sound boring, some shifts are totally not; but for most of us we have very full lives outside work and that is where we focus ourselves. Sure, there is that super-rare individual that feels they need to place a class structure on the them (RNs) vs us (support staff), but mostly everyone ignores them and rolls their eyes and say "what was that about?" when they're out of earshot.
    I apologize that I don't know your situation, but I encourage you to try to work or volunteer in a hospital to really get a feel for what nursing is and if it will be a good fit for you. I mention a hospital in particular because in my personal experience, SNFs can be where bravado pervades and facilities are highly variable in their workload, etc. so they may not necessarily give you a good picture of what it's like to have five patients with acuity all over the place and three call-lights blaring simultaneously. Though seriously, days like that it's a wonder any of us come back the next day, and yet we do. Typically for a paycheck....
    If after that, you decide that nursing isn't a good fit for you and your family; then, with your prerequisites you are set up to get a Bachelor's in Science in a number of fields in short order. Best wishes to you!
    Thanks! I have worked as an aide before in med/surg, pre-op, post-op and in LTC and I currently volunteer in the NICU at the hospital I'd like to work at, so I've spent lots of time in hospitals and around nurses. I know it's what I want to do.

    I just had a bad moment after a few comments were made to me in quick succession and needed a bit of reassurance. I just need to find my niche, just like anything else in life.

    Onward!
  14. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Quote from JBMmom
    I came into nursing as a second career. I never felt particularly called to it, the education I had for my first career made nursing or teaching the easiest second careers for me to consider. Nursing seemed to have a wider range of opportunities, so I picked that. I finished nursing school five years ago, and I really like being a nurse. I don't feel like I'm a better person than others for being a nurse, so I don't project that and no one has initiated any sort of conversation to that effect. I'm a person doing my job just like they're people doing theirs. Just because my job revolves around providing care to others doesn't mean it's better. I wouldn't be interested in being a civil engineer, but we need them otherwise our bridges will fall down. Other people aren't interested in providing care for people, I do that because it's what I'm trained to do. If you don't think it's for you clinically, that's one thing. But I wouldn't dismiss a career based on what someone else might or might not think.
    It's not necessarily based on what other people think, it's more based on doing the profession justice, if that makes sense. I was questioning if I had what it takes to live up to what I (erroneously) thought would be expected of me.

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