Bedside Nursing-Not for the faint of heart


Walk onto any hospital unit in the country and it is pretty apparent that nurses are the backbone. Whether it is the midday lunch hour or the wee hours in the morning nurses are always on duty. Holiday time when everyone else is enjoying family and friends nurses are working. During snow blizzards, hurricanes and extreme heat when people are indoors comfortable and safe nurses must navigate their way to work. Hospitals never close so nurses are always needed.

When a patient is in distress and needs immediate attention it is the nurse who is usually the first at the bedside. The nurse is the one who bears the brunt of a disgruntled family member's anger over the care of their loved one or their condition in general. When a doctor needs assistance, wants information about his patient or needs someone to point the finger for things gone wrong the nurse is the target. Aside from the daily routines and duties and the unexpected challenges that any day can bring, nurses are under a lot of stress to perform and to meet the needs of so many.

I have always believed that some of the unnecessary issues we deal with is because nursing is a female dominated profession. Whenever I see a male doctor disrespecting a young fragile female nurse I wonder how that same physician would respond if that nurse was a six foot four 250 lb male. I'm sure it doesn't help that many women wear their emotions on their sleeves and cave under the pressure. To survive in the nursing field you have to be tough or it will take you under.

Most people would be surprised at how common it is for nurses to have an emotional breakdown while at work. Many of the nurses coming into the field today are very young and ill prepared for the emotional toil that nursing can take on you. Even though I came into the field at age 17, the world was much different back then.

If you are in your 20's and used to being sheltered, then all of a sudden thrown into a situation where you feel intimidated, unappreciated and frustrated it can be overwhelming. Nurses are threatened, hit, kicked, spit on, cursed out, bullied and often times made to feel incompetent by patients, family members, doctors and sometimes even their own peers. Being a nurse requires grit and strength. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. We become easy targets because we are the ones who's always there.

Nurses in the hospital are on their feet for at least 12 hrs a day and sometimes, many times without taking a break. Pulling away and taking a real lunch break is oftentimes a luxury we cant't afford. Just having enough time to go to bathroom or get a drink of water becomes a challenge. We are pulled in so many different directions and everyone wants what they want when they want it. At the end of the day nurses are people too and though sometime we may seem superhuman we aren't.

It takes a very special person to be a nurse and to do it well takes even more skill. Patients don't care about what personal struggles you might be going through, they need you to be at your best everyday. After 34 yrs in this business I can say that one of the things that keeps me coming back for more despite all the challenges nursing brings are the many lives I have the privilege to impact everyday.

If you are in the nursing field kudos to you for a job well done. If you are new don't be discouraged, though it can be very challenging nursing is one of the most rewarding careers. Take very few things personal and learn from your mistakes. We ALL make them. Don't be afraid to ask for help or admit when you don't know something. Medicine is always changing so the need to continue to learn is of the utmost importance.

If you are not a nurse and reading this blog I challenge you to be kind to your nurse the next time you or a loved on is in the hospital. Nurses are people too and our goal is to serve you.