What's it really like to be a nurse?

  1. I am 34, and recently quit my job as a corporate manager. It was a job I stumbled into, and there were things about it I loved - namely the people I worked with - but I found I missed simple human kindness; at the end of the day we were about making money, not about creating care and compassion and a nicer world.

    I have thought about nursing since I was around 20 - it's the one profession I can think of that seems like it would best fit many parts of me. The thing I care about most in the world is human relationships; I love music and the out-of-doors and other things, too, but none of that has any meaning without the relationships we build with each other. Nursing just feels like it's calling me.

    But I'm 34; to become a nurse I would need to move to the city (about 2.5 hours from where I live now), be in school for several years. It would be a huge commitment - financially, emotionally, physically. I would give up the security and calm I have now from being in a place that feels like home - a small, beautiful town where I've made good friends. Kind of a gamble.

    Like I said, I have considered/felt called to nursing for many years. I feel I just wasn't ready until now; I feel like it takes tremendous strength to be a nurse, and confidence, and calm, and emotional resilience, and I don't think I had enough of those things until now. I would like to pursue this dream, but I can't tell if I'm crazy.

    Have I really grown enough to have the qualities a good nurse has? And do I have unrealistic ideas about what nursing really is? Is the modern health system so difficult that there isn't much space for tenderness and real human connection? Am I strong enough to learn to hold patients' suffering without suffering myself? And how about the abuses I believe nurses sometimes suffer - at the hands of patients, of families, of the medical hierarchy; are those stresses so big I couldn't handle them, or could I learn how? So my question is this - what's it really like to be a nurse?
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 30, '13 : Reason: spacing
  2. Visit OhNatasha profile page

    About OhNatasha

    Joined: Nov '02; Posts: 6; Likes: 7
    Corporate Manager; from US


  3. by   VANurse2010
    I wouldn't do it if I were you. It may seem like a calling, but at the end of the day it's a job like any other with all the BS and politics that goes with it. In a hospital or LTC setting, you will *not* have the time to really sit with your patient and offer the compassionate care you seem to desire to give. If you want to escape a profession that's all about money, healthcare is the LAST place you should be looking. Hospice might be something that could fit, but that's generally not for a brand new nurse.
  4. by   DoeRN
    I have to agree with VA nurse 100%. A lot of us won't sugarcoat it. It is is tough being a nurse especially direct patient care which you seem to want to get into. Think long and hard before you take the plunge.

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
  5. by   advsmuch08
    Before you invest your time and money in a nursing career, try shadowing several nurses. Shadow nurses who work in different areas, different settings, and at different times of the day. I know, at least at my hospital, the volunteer office sets these up. This way you'll see first hand what nursing is like.
  6. by   squatmunkie_RN
    Don't do it. Not at this point in your life. Nursing is nothing at all like what is shown on TV. It's a rare day when you hold someone's hand while they're taking their last breath. Hardly ever happens in acute care hospital settings. Most of the time you're running around just trying to get the pt's the things they need. Just don't do it. Stay where you are.
  7. by   OCNRN63
    If you absolutely feel you want to be a nurse, get your feet wet by working as a CNA. You'll get exposure to working with patients and working alongside nurses and other staff.

    Honestly, if you live somewhere where you have a home you love, good friends and stability, I would think long and hard about making a commitment that's going to require so much sacrifice. To be honest, one of the things that nurses today long for is the opportunity to get to know their patients. Often nurses are so busy running from room to room that there is little time to spend with the patients. The hours are long, you may frequently go without a lunch/dinner break and the charting usually takes more time than the actual patient care. I won't even go into administration and their crushing demands on staff. Take some time and read the threads that talk about what makes nurses dissatisfied with their jobs.

    Make sure that what you imagine nursing to be isn't some idealized version of what the profession really is.
  8. by   Nascar nurse
    I agree with everything said above. With all the ugliness tho....I just can't imagine being anything but a nurse! If I had to do it all over again I have no doubt that I would still be a nurse.
  9. by   Caffeine_IV
    You already quit? I'm sorry if you missed human kindness and such volunteer somewhere a couple times a month. There are many avenues.

    I never felt called to be a nurse. I have good and bad days. Nursing is about money as well. They fire/lay off, cut supplies, etc to save money all the time.
  10. by   That Guy
    Quote from OhNatasha
    I am 34, and recently quit my job as a corporate manager. It was a job I stumbled into, and there were things about it I loved - namely the people I worked with - but I found I missed simple human kindness; at the end of the day we were about making money, not about creating care and compassion and a nicer world.
    You better look somewhere other than healthcare for these things. Sadly, it is all it is coming down too.
  11. by   stepaukob
    I entered nursing so I would have a job when I graduated school. If I were you I would compare the pay rates with other professions in your area. There are specialities in nursing that may be your fit such as becoming a visiting nurse. Also, do your homework, see if there is a need in your area. Where I live schools are pumping out nurses in which many are having difficulty finding a job.
  12. by   NurseOnAMotorcycle
    Shadowing a few shifts is a great idea! You have to have a very strong heart to be a nurse to deal with mean patients or mean coworkers. Some good vs bad for you:

    1. People can treat you like a personal servant more times than not, but those times when you really help someone can make the rest worth it.
    2. Nurses are pretty clique-y and can cut each other down, but when the %$^% hits the fan, they can back you up and help you more than you expected.
    3. Holidays? Forget it. You're family will be missing you. But giving patients little gifts or cards on Christmas Eve (especially in pediatrics!) or Halloween feels great!
    4. Nursing school/college of nursing is AWFUL!!! Go straight for BSN. ADN's aren't getting work anymore without experience.
    5. (from my school age kids) You have to do gross stuff, but you get lots of funny stories.
    6. You have to worry about being sued for anything you do or don't do at every moment of every shift. CYA- cover your @$$.

    Personally, I love my job, but there are the down sides. My friends feel the need to complain about nurses, ask me for medical advice, or ask about some miracle pill they saw on TV. I've missed birthdays, weddings, all kinds of things. My family often feels like they have to come second to my work schedule, BUT they sure are proud of me. When talking about their family, they love to lead off with their nurse mom.
  13. by   loriangel14
    I am shocked at the negative replies. I went back to school at 38 to become a nurse it is the best thing I ever did. I love my job ( most days) and my coworkers. I find it rewarding and i have met a lot of great people. I have seen people at the worst time of their lives deal with tragedy with grace, humor and wit. I have learned what is really important in life and to not take anything for granted. I have been there to witness recovery and the special joy that comes with that.I have also been privileged to help people on that final journey.I couldn't imagine not being a nurse.
  14. by   ll9919
    I think the most sage advise is to shadow a nurse in the areas you may be interested in (or just a general meg/surg floor) and then decide if nursing is a good for you personally. You are going to encounter on this site and in general those who love nursing and those who could do without it. The ONLY person who can make the final decision is you. However, I do recommend shadowing multiple times with different nurses in different areas before making such a big life change. I did nursing as a 2nd degree and I don't have any regrets. Although it can be crazy, it is that one patient here and there that makes it all worth it for me.