Torn between a Nursing or Nutrition degree because of my beliefs regarding medicine?

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    I am a 21 year old female and I've been taking prerequisites for Nursing. At first, I was really passionate about it until I realized that I don't really believe in pushing pills and injecting needles in people. I am adamant about proper nutrition and exercise, eating organic fruits and veggies, and eastern medicine practices such as acupuncture and aromatherapy. I feel that we can heal our bodies much better naturally, and I am sadden by the way the medical system pushes drugs on people to make money. Also, I wrote a paper on the medical system in one of my classes and was really disgusted by a lot of the things I was finding in my research. My professor was really impressed with my paper and it prompted him to talk to me about it. He said that he used to work in a hospital a few years ago, and he knew of coworkers (I'm not sure if they were nurses or doctors or what) who "erased" evidence of medical errors when patients died! And never informed their families that it was a medical error! I knew I could never participate in that, directly or indirectly.
    So I searched and searched for any types of holistic, natural Nursing programs. There is only ONE in the entire country, in New York City, and its expensive. The program sounds amazing and it awards Nurses with the Bachelor of Science in Nursing but they have background in all types of Eastern and alternative healing methods.
    I decided maybe it would be better for me to just "go for the gold" and become a Naturopathic Physician. However, to do this I must have a bachelors degree first. I am torn between continuing to major in Nursing, and TRY and deal with having to give people drugs and injections, or major in Nutrition where I would feel more comfortable. The drawback to the Nutrition degree, is that it has little room for advancement and Nursing has many different paths you can take.
    I also heard that there are classes that Nurses can take to learn more about alternative medicine and healing, but I don't know much about that. What should I do?? I've wasted enough time over this already.

    Thanks!
    sealford likes this.
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  3. 17 Comments so far...

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    If you think nursing is restrictive, wait until you start with your nutrition classes. There are some more progressive areas in nursing which might suit you but on the whole, it's Western medicine.

    I understand where you are, I feel somewhat the same- proper food and nutrition (NOT the FDA's silly recommendations) along with exercise will stave off most CHRONIC diseases. Understand, though, that there are some facets of "the pill popping" mentality that are superior, and in most cases, the only intervention that will return an individual to health. Acupuncture won't reduce a dislocated joint and most certainly won't unblock a coronary artery when it decides to get pinched off.

    As far as erasing medical errors, that's a matter of integrity. I can assure you, however, it is not encouraged, tolerated, or remotely acceptable.
    NurseforHim, sealford, willowita, and 1 other like this.
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    thanks for your feedback!
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    I'm kind of confused. If you're planning on becoming a naturopathic physician, why are you concerned with advancement in nursing - a field you are appalled by? If you're going to proceed with that route, just choose whatever interests you for your undergrad.
    elkpark likes this.
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    it's great to promote healthy nutrition and exercise, but if you're injured in an accident or genetically predisposed to mental illness or cancer, no amount of healthy eating/exercise would help.

    I grew up using both Eastern & Western medicine (I was born in Hong Kong). Let me just say that Eastern medicine never worked for me or anyone I know. It doesn't even alleviate the common cold and acupuncture made my back pain worse. Forget about it if you have more serious or complex diseases. It's not based on rigorous scientific methods and often have worse side effects. Western medicine, while not perfect, is the best we have. Also, western med isn't all about pills, it advocates prevention, healthy diet/exercise as well...basically same as what eastern/alternative medicine do without promising the world to patients.

    You can find disgusting unethical behaviors in all sectors (health care, banking, accounting, IT, pharm). It's really not a reason to not participate. You just need to recognize them and act with integrity and report those who violate laws.
    Bobmo88, noahsmama, Shorty11, and 3 others like this.
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    It sounds like the nursing degree might be best for what you plan to do with your future. Being able to have lots of options is better than being stuck with only one. And, since you don't plan on becoming a nurse, you won't have to worry about the injections and medications as your job, just to get you through nursing.

    On a personal note, I completely understand where you are coming from. We are a society that believes we can live however we want and then, just take a pill or have a surgery to fix it. But, there are many, many cases where medication is a good and right thing. I am a prime example of this. I have to take a thyroid hormone pill every day because my thyroid isn't producing it anymore (I have an autoimmune disease). I eat all nature, super healthy and am a personal trainer. None of that helped me when it came to my body attacking itself. Without medication, I wouldn't get out of bed.
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    You might find the Holistic Nursing forum here helpful. It's under the Specialties tab in the yellow bar at the top of the screen. Here's the link for you. Holistic Nursing

    You're right that there aren't really any nursing programs out there that only teach holistic nursing. That's because nursing school has to prepare you to pass the NCLEX and practice safely in any nursing setting. A huge part of nursing settings involve giving medications and working in an acute care setting. You have to learn that in school in order to be a safe and competent nurse.

    There are nursing avenues that would suit what you want to do, but you will still have to learn the Western medicine techniques and possibly even spend a few years in a more traditional nursing role in order to gain the experience necessary to move into one of those avenues. The real question is whether you would be able to tolerate the lecture and clinical work required for nursing school, when you seem so starkly opposed to those beliefs. Just like you can't enter nursing school and say, "I only want to work with children and don't want to learn how to care for adults," you also cannot say, "I only want to learn holistic nursing therapies and not learn how to give medications."

    If you don't think you'll be able to get through nursing school, then another career path will better suit you.

    I understand your points about Western medicine. I do believe that alternative therapies and good nutrition can be very helpful in the prevention of certain diseases and can be effective when used in conjunction with more traditional therapies. However, there is a point- such as when the patient already has diabetes, heart disease, or an infection- when medications are a necessary part of the patient's recover.

    I'll also suggest that you may want to alter your vocabulary when you speak to other nurses about these issues. While this might not be your intent, your post comes across as quite condescending toward nurses- as though all we do is push pills and could care less about other aspects of health and wellness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any nurse will tell you that we do encourage proper diet and exercise habits as much as possible. However, one of our biggest obstacles is convincing the patient to make the needed lifestyle changes. That's an obstacle that you will face no matter which career you choose to pursue. You can be adamant about proper nutrition all you want and preach proper diet, exercise, and homeopathic remedies until you're blue in the face. But unless your patients agree to stop eating McDonald's cheese burgers, drinking soda, and watching TV for 10 hours per day, it's not going to make any difference.

    The point is that it's not just about what I believe good health is. My job is to help the patient recover from their disease. Do I believe that many of my patients would be healthier and recover more quickly if they exercised more and ate a proper diet? Absolutely. But if my patients refuse to change their lifestyle, it is not ethical for me to toss them out into the street until they decide to come around to my way of thinking. Instead, my job is to help them recover using therapies that they will be compliant with. For many patients, this means giving them medications.

    Take no offense, please, but you are young and your views of healthcare are idealistic. While they many make sense in theory, they often don't work out as you want them to in the real world. Please try to avoid offending others who work in healthcare and don't exactly agree with your views. Instead, collaborate, discuss, contemplate, and we can all learn from each other.
    jtboog2003, elkpark, Shorty11, and 4 others like this.
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    I don't think you should be a nurse. I don't mean this in a negative way, but if you'll have issues with giving needles and pills- you are going to be miserable as a nurse. Do I believe people should pop pill after pill? No. But If that's what people choose to do, I will gladly provide them with whatever is on the rx. For me, being a nurse is about helping people in the ways they want to be helped- regardless of my beliefs. You are SO passionate about your beliefs (which isn't a bad thing), but you have to be able to draw the line. If you can't? I would stay far away. This is one of the reasons I pursued another career outside of counseling. I dont believe all marriages can be fixed. So for me to sit there and pretend like I do? Please. Just get a divorce and stop arguing!! I was in too deep with my beliefs to enjoy the job.
    Shorty11 and noahsmama like this.
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    my advice is simple. follow your heart :heartbeat it sounds like you have already made up your mind and are trying to convince yourself that nursing is the way to go. you have a dream.. go for it with all the passion in your soul!
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    I don't think you should be a nurse. I don't mean this in a negative way, but if you'll have issues with giving needles and pills- you are going to be miserable as a nurse. Do I believe people should pop pill after pill? No. But If that's what people choose to do, I will gladly provide them with whatever is on the rx. For me, being a nurse is about helping people in the ways they want to be helped- regardless of my beliefs. You are SO passionate about your beliefs (which isn't a bad thing), but you have to be able to draw the line. If you can't? I would stay far away. This is one of the reasons I pursued another career outside of counseling. I dont believe all marriages can be fixed. So for me to sit there and pretend like I do? Please. Just get a divorce and stop arguing!! I was in too deep with my beliefs to enjoy the job.

    I agree with this. Now, I don't believe you should take a pill to solve all your problems - I have been on enough medicines to know a lot of them don't help and could possibly cause further problems. I don't like taking medication and avoid it as much as possible. I find things like yoga and accupressure to be helpful when it comes to stress and nausea. However, from what I've seen, alternative medicines have no effect on major issues, and the people who push for them are even worse. I had a friend who freaked out at me for taking Pepto-Bismol for acid reflux and practically ordered me to go off anti-depressants when that wasn't even the point of the story I was telling at the time... and she's the one who once had a strain of flu so bad that she was coughing up blood, and then didn't have a menstrual cycle for many months. On the other hand, I have never had anything worse than a cold, and I've always been regular. I'm not saying you'll turn out like my friend, but people don't want to feel like someone is judging their medication method when they're already feeling sick.

    There are certainly many problems with Western medicine, but that doesn't mean it's all bad.


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