What's it really like to be a nurse? - page 2

by OhNatasha

19,038 Views | 38 Comments

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... Read More


  1. 3
    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.
    poppycat, tokmom, and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.
  2. 16
    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.
    akamel, cardiacrocks, Twinmom06, and 13 others like this.
  3. 4
    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.
    poppycat, DizzyLizzyNurse, Rosa_G, and 1 other like this.
  4. 2
    Go for it! Definitely shadowing a nurse is a good idea, but it is a rewarding career. Much of what was said previously is true, but it is still satisfying and if you truly want to see results and have one-one time with your patients, them get into skilled home care. It's a growing field and satisfies all areas of what your goals fore mentioned. Best wishes.
    pmabraham and sealford like this.
  5. 1
    Your story sounds similar to mine. I worked in production management and was a technical consultant and did sales for a while... in the end I felt completely unfulfilled despite the fact that I was making 6 figures. At 40 plus, I know that my time left is waning... and I would be very sad to get to the end of my life and not be able to say that I really made a difference. I knew I wanted something and had medical in the back of my mind for years.. I did finally make the plunge, and I have No regrets what so ever BUT... I would recommend a few things - Really consider what you want to do and volunteer and see if it is right for you... I knew from my very first volunteer shift. I was helping a CNA clean a patient with a horrible pressure sore.. I dove right in but when it came to cleaning her, I hesitated, the CNA thought it was because I was grossed out.. not at all I was completely overwhelmed with questions in my mind.. like who did this to her, how did it happen, and is this going to hurt her... I was not at all grossed out. After volunteering, I got my CNA license and worked for a year while I completed my pre-reqs. My time as a CNA only further confirmed in my mind that this is what I want to do. It does not feel like work, it feels like I am just at a sick friends house caring for them.. but it is all documented and done according to procedure... You have to be honest with yourself and ask WHY are you making the move..if it is for the money you will not be happy and your patients will suffer. You need to be totally cool with blood and vomit and substances coming out of people that you never imagined could... You need to be able to deal with things changing and people getting angry at you when you are not the true source of their concerns... People come to the doctor not when they are looking and feeling their best.. they come when they are stinky, sweaty, ill and at their worst.. and often terrified... the awesome thing is that a good nurse can help a person through that and usually watch them get better...speaking of which... oh yes and you will need to be able to deal with death... as it happens, not after someone has cleaned up the person...but again, having been trained in how to care for people in those worst of times, you can even make a difference in death.. anyhoo sorry to ramble.. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE BUT you MUST think carefully aned be honest with yourself...it is not for everyone.. not that it is a bad thing if it is not.. but if it is for you for the right reasons, it is a wonderful calling.
    pmabraham likes this.
  6. 7
    I wouldn't go back to acute care Med/Surg nursing for all the tea in China *because* it is not about direct patient care anymore.

    It's true that as a new graduate you might have to spend a year in that setting to earn your stripes, so to speak. However, once you are a seasoned nurse, there are countless avenues of nursing that are NOT that acute care setting.

    I work Infusion Center nursing. A vast majority of our patients are Oncology patients. I absolutely get the chance to sit and hold hands. I get face to face patient time, cushy daytime hours and LOW patient to nurse ratios. If I opt to stay in nursing (still trying to decide where I'm going for graduate studies) I will likely head towards pediatrics, palliative care, or hospice. That's my personality. I went into nursing for pretty much what you are talking about, the direct contact with the patients. I have gone down areas of nursing that give me exactly that.

    I was shadowing on a Med/Surg unit this last week. I went back to my Dept and told my manager that the experience reminded me that I do NOT miss that world and that angle of nursing is NOT FOR ME.

    If that were all that nursing was, I would have never come back to this profession. It's not. There are lots of avenues of nursing.
    Genista, poppycat, tokmom, and 4 others like this.
  7. 4
    It is a rewarding career for sure, but you have to be realistic about it. Are you willing to give give give, physically and emotionally? You have no idea much giving you do until you're doing the job.

    And then, it's not just a job. Being a nurse becomes part of your identity, even if you don't think it does. When you go home and take off your scrubs, you're still a nurse. You will think like one all the time. It is exceedingly difficult to not "take your work home." You will gross people out because you will talk about blood, guts and poop at the dinner table. You'll assess your friends every time they complain of a headache. People will solicit medical advice from you, regardless of the time of day. And the worst part, for me anyway, is that the general public believes it is your duty to serve them at all times, just because you are a nurse. It doesn't matter if you're in your sweats at the grocery store with your kids, if they know you're a nurse, they will show you their "weird rash." People will feel entitled to your care, and will try to suck the ever loving soul out of you, just because you're their nurse.
    You will hurt your back. Your feet will ache. Your hands will look awful from all the handwashing with harsh antibacterial soaps. And your patients die sometimes.

    But I sure do love it. I work my butt off, and most of the time, I feel good at the end of the day. You can't expect to make a huge difference in somebody's life with nursing, but you can make several small differences. I would do it all over again. I get to help people and families through some of the most difficult times in their lives.

    A few perks:
    1) I get to essentially wear pajamas to work. I also get to wear comfy shoes all the time.
    2) Not a day goes by that I don't learn something.
    3) The pay is pretty good, depending on specialty and level of education.
    4) I work with people who get my sick sense of humor. It's a coping mechanism lots of nurses employ.
    5) I love solving problems. My day is often full of them!
    poppycat, tokmom, pmabraham, and 1 other like this.
  8. 0
    Now that I know what it's really like to be a nurse, I realize that I should have chosen OT, PT or Recreation therapy instead of nursing. We don't have time to spend with people the way we would like, the workload is unrealistic, we often miss breaks, and stay late. Nursing has become like the corporate world....all about money, and less about people. The corporation does not care about the health of their patients, or their workers. Maybe this will change for the better eventually, but at the moment, that's what nursing has become.
  9. 0
    I encourage you to do things the others have said, to shadow and everything and really figure out if this is for you before you speak to a school! They will lie and suck you in talking about the "nursing shortage" and show you pamphlets with nice quotes and pictures of a nurse checking the blood pressure of a very cute kid.
  10. 0
    You will quickly realize that nursing is not at all about relationships and patient care it is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! You need to take off the rose colored glasses and see what nursing really is. It is nothing like you imagine.


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