What's it really like to be a nurse? - page 4

by OhNatasha | 21,068 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


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    Many nurses in my area (California) are not finding jobs for up to two years. With that said, I don't want to discourage you, however nursing is VERY different than many expect. The time crunch, long hours, high level of responsibility and vast amount of paper work and liability are are the REALITIES of nursing. There is not a ton of time to spend "building relationships" and teaching and caring for patients as you would probably like. Most nurses find it difficult just to get the tasks completed safely. Remember its your license that needs to be protected and many things that need to be considered. I wish I could say nursing was what I thought it would be, but it is not. BUT, with that said, it is a daily challenge and sometimes struggle, but at the same time a privilege and honor. You do get moments with patients that you will never forget. I'd say overall, the job is physically and emotionally very demanding and difficult for the first year. You must be very resilient and have EXCELLENT critical thinking skills to survive. I'd say try phlebotomy or something where you might have less school time/investment and see how you like patient care. Then do what you feel is right! We had several people in our nursing class in their 40's, most had previous healthcare exp. Wish you the best of luck!
    Ayvah likes this.
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    its great in that you get to help save lives. I did not feel called to become a nurse. I became a nurse because I wanted to do anesthesia. onlyreason. If I fail out of school, I will become something else. long hours, treated like crap, made to feel stupid, but seeing someone come back after they've been on deaths door makes it all worth it sometimes
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    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?


    You really are romanticising this "idea" of yours. The statements above are over the top and ridiculous. Stick with what you know.
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    Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful, honest replies. It is incredibly helpful to hear your experiences, feelings, ideas, and insight. I am touched, too, that so many would respond to the query of a stranger. Thank you very much. I am saddened - for so many reasons - to hear the stress, the overload, the burden, and the abuse so many of you suffer, and how difficult it is to provide the care you wish within the bounds and [frequently inhuman] demands of the modern healthcare system. It is a terrible shame that it should be so difficult. I am also delighted that there are places where the art and science of nursing can be, on balance, satisfying, manageable, and even joyful; that for some, to be a nurse is a wonderful thing.
    I absolutely plan to follow up on the suggestion to shadow; I do not believe there is much opportunity to do so here in my small town, particularly on multiple different services, but I believe I ought be able to find a way through the school I'd be attending. I've actually already worked as a CNA - got certified when I was 19. It is true that were I to pursue nursing I'd sacrifice (at least temporarily) much of the comfort I currently have - a cozy little cabin, good friends, a quiet, gentle pace of life. But that sacrifice wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, for comfort is a funny thing: we all need it, desperately. But we also need room to grow, and explore, and try new things, and that sometimes involves [temporary] discomfort. Much of the loveliness of life in a small town - the gentle pace of life, the familiarity, the coziness - are also the sources of its limitations. It can be difficult to find new experiences, new ideas, new avenues. I do believe I'd like to make life here for good. But I think I might like a bit more adventure in the meantime. I'd like to have something really solid upon which to continue to build a life, something I can really bring to the community. It can be difficult to know which comforts to guard with one's life, one's soul; to my mind connections with loved ones, the greatest source of comfort that there is, are the ones to keep close. How best to keep those - that's complicated, for we must be able to be both close and have room to grow. So really, for me, there are two questions: (1) is what I would sacrifice to move (for training) worth what I might gain? (2) is nursing the right avenue for me? It will take a bit of time to tease through. You have helped tremendously.

    Thank you again for all of your thoughts and willingness to share experience. For those struggling - I hope that things can get better, or, that if they can't, that other avenues, with brighter days, can find their way to you.
    Genista, DizzyLizzyNurse, poppycat, and 1 other like this.
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    Being a nurse is a tough job. You may have some romantic perception about it but it can be a job that requires super mental and emotional strenght. If you are not prepared for it, then might as stay put in your job or become a volunteer at your community hospital and see how the nurses work. Try to feel it out first before making the final step.
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    I too am a second degree nursing student (I graduate in May)...I'm also nearly 39 - my situation is a bit different in that I was laid off and took the advantage to go back to school - like yourself the desire has been there for a while but the maturity (and life) took awhile...

    you WILL pour blood, sweat and tears into nursing school...you WILL study until you feel like you can study no more...but the greatest compliments come from the smallest places...I've had more than one person tell me that I've had the "personality" to be a nurse...I actually enjoy when my mom calls me and asks me questions about my grandma's treatment, or the new medication they want to put my dad on...enjoy while you're a student and in clinical when you have just one patient to focus all your energy on....the patients (mostly) love the one on one attention, and the thank you's are terrific...

    before some accuse me of rose colored glasses, I work as an aide and have seen the nurses run their asses off and have patients that have come from hell - but it still hasn't deterred me....the only deterrent right now is the one local hospital system that has gone for-profit...and they've raised their ratio to 1:9....I won't work there (unless its in a specialized role such as ICU or NICU)....but there are PLENTY of nursing positions where I live - so you may have to move but you sound like the type of person that can make friends wherever you wind up! Good luck!
    pmabraham likes this.
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    Quote from Twinmom06

    the only deterrent right now is the one local hospital system that has gone for-profit...and they've raised their ratio to 1:9....I won't work there (unless its in a specialized role such as ICU or NICU)....
    1:9! Humm I wonder which for profit this is? That's a crazy number. Is this for med/surg? I've had that many but it was a specialized floor and all my patients were walkie/talkies. Don't get me wrong I still ran my bottom off but I can't imagine this on a regular med/surg floor.

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
    workingharder likes this.
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    To Lila (who kindly sent me a message...to which this website wouldn't allow me to reply) -

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write, and for expressing to me your positive experiences with nursing, and encouragement. I find myself, after all the information I've received, and the time I've recently spent in my local hospital, and lots of time to think, driven ever more to pursue a career as a nurse. In some ways it feels incredibly selfish - to pursue this thing which I want for no other reason than that I believe in it, and see it as a way to have the life I want. And yet that very selfishness doesn't seem wrong; what purpose is there to life other than to believe in it, and love it, and explore it? This is not to say I expect nothing but sunshine and roses, or some gilded path. To the contrary, I expect a  difficult row to hoe. But there is lots of beauty even in difficulty, and I don't wish to shy from a challenge.

    Thank you again for your kind, thoughtful, encouraging words. I most definitely will you posted!

    Sincerely yours,

    Natasha
  9. 0
    I was in my 40s before I finally realized my dream of becoming a nurse, however I had worked in radiology previously so I had an idea of what I was getting into. I agreethat the best thing is to shadow a nurse so you can see what the day to day is really like. Personally I do enjoy bedside nursing and encourage others to join the profession but you have to know if it is for you.


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