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Don't like to clean pee & poop: Can I still be a nurse?

Nurse Beth   (40,680 Views 31 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,350 Visitors; 1,757 Posts

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Dear Doesn't Like Poop,

Thanks for a really good question. I'm thinking it may draw fire, but it's not a bad thing to hear different points of view. Hopefully you will get a lot of responses here to help you decide if nursing is for you.

Nursing does give more opportunities than almost any career I can think of. The possibilities are numerous. You can go into sales, informatics, advanced practice, school nursing...many of which require little or no patient contact.

Your nursing training, however, will require direct patient care, and you must never convey distaste, or shame a patient. Can you matter of factly clean up a patient who vomited over everything without wrinkling your nose, and with a sincere desire to make them clean and warm and comfortable?

Patients by definition, are sick...and sick people are not at their best. Can you look past their behavior and be therapeutic towards them? Patient and kind, when they are not?

Once I hired a nurse who was smart, proficient, reliable.. a good worker. But he didn't have that warm, personal touch with patients that most of the other nurses and CNAs had. Rob's focus was technical over personal. It just wasn't a good fit, he really wasn't happy, and we both acknowledged that.

Years later, I had surgery in a different hospital, and who was my CRNA but….Rob! Looking happy and relaxed, whereas before he had been wound a bit tight. As a patient, he made me feel safe and I went into surgery knowing I was in good hands. He had found his nursing niche.

Later I talked to one of the PACU nurses who said Rob was the nurses' number one choice for anesthesia provider at that hospital. High praise.You've identified what you don't like about nursing. As you make your career choice, also identify what you do like and what brings you joy. It's a matter of knowing yourself and finding your path.

Found a great post for you to read For Those Considering a Career in Nursing” by Ruby Vee.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

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Edited by tnbutterfly

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Rbeck911 is a BSN, RN and works as a Occupational Health Nurse.

1 Article; 6,116 Visitors; 148 Posts

2 words: Occupational Health

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Esme12 is a ASN, BSN, RN and works as a Emergency / Trauma Nurse.

3 Followers; 3 Articles; 145,848 Visitors; 20,896 Posts

No nurse "likes" fecal excrement nor the smells. You do eventually "get used" to smells. My advice carry Vicks in your pocketfor application under your nose and Ozium spray. ((HUGS))

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meanmaryjean has 40 years experience and works as a Nursing Faculty.

3 Followers; 63,827 Visitors; 7,498 Posts

And OP, nursing does not lead to sonography, unless Canada is very, Very, VERY different from the US.

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JustBeachyNurse has 10 years experience as a RN and works as a Nurse.

1 Follower; 1 Article; 98,985 Visitors; 13,943 Posts

Nursing and ultrasound are two very different fields even in Canada

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loriangel14 works as a hospital floor nurse..

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There are nursing jobs that don't involve personal care but you will need to do the bedside role to get there.

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BirkieGirl has 25 years experience.

6,849 Visitors; 303 Posts

I have worked in a very specialized cardiac field that is office based for the past 15 years, I have no contact with bodily fluids other than an occasional groin bleed that generally requires a 4x4 gauze pad and a piece of tape.

There are a LOT of jobs in nursing that will eliminate you from bedside care: drug rep, catheter rep (cardiac, brain, bladder, bowel, etc), plant nursing, occupational health, MSDS, case management, discharge planning, utilization review, and all sorts of rep jobs specific to different body implants...

Bedside nursing is not for everybody long term, but a MAJOR perk of bedside nursing is that as a general rule, it's a 3 shift-per-week scenario and allows you to have a lot of free time for family, kids, grad school, etc!!

My only warning to you is that in order to get into a non-bedside nursing job, I have found that you generally HAVE to work a while at the bedside to learn how to be a great nurse FIRST before entering into non-traditional jobs. Not always, and some will disagree with me, but in my large office setting, every nurse there worked quite a while at the bedside. we work quite independently every day without doctors giving us direction on our patient care, so we must have solid backgrounds and critical thinking abilities.

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la_chica_suerte85 works as a RN Resident.

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I think when it comes down to it, there is a kind of a missing link that exists between what you think it would be like to clean a patient and what it actually ends up being like. As Nurse Beth said, you must genuinely desire that end point: making the patient comfortable once more.

When you learn that we have the opportunity to do this for people in a way that helps minimize their embarrassment (and, really, it's not about you, it's about the patient), you don't mind it at all. Because of the issues with skin breakdown and infection, there are lots of nifty tricks and such that are far different than what you think it would be like for someone in a hospital bed (the situation isn't great, but it's an improvement over what the worst case scenario you can think of will be). You don't look forward to it and you worry about a patient who is several incontinent of bowel and bladder, especially if they begin showing signs of skin breakdown, and you cringe when you go over a spot that has become tender and causes them pain. By that point, you don't even really realize what you're doing. You just do it because you must and your patient needs you to.

Plus, that interaction is part of your assessment -- you see what is going on with the patient and make decisions based on that. It's not cleaning up people who just decide to not get up to use the toilet anymore. It's not that by a long shot.

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amzyRN works as a RN-Emergency Services.

16,638 Visitors; 1,141 Posts

There will always be some cleaning poo and pee associated with being a nurse, even if just in nursing school when you do your clinicals. After you become licensed you can do various other things with your license besides working at the bedside. But one must be able to clean poo, pee, and barf and tolerate respiratory secretions during their clinicals.

Really, pee, poo, barf and blood are not that bad. Infectious stinky wounds are much worse in my opinion. And anything from the respiratory tract makes me sick. Thank god for RT.

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34,440 Visitors; 3,950 Posts

You can try to enter nursing just because of the future opportunities, but getting accepted into an accelerated nursing program may prove to be challenging. Suggest you attend on campus, nursing program information sessions and find out what you need for you application to be competitive.

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,350 Visitors; 1,757 Posts

I think when it comes down to it, there is a kind of a missing link that exists between what you think it would be like to clean a patient and what it actually ends up being like. As Nurse Beth said, you must genuinely desire that end point: making the patient comfortable once more.

When you learn that we have the opportunity to do this for people in a way that helps minimize their embarrassment (and, really, it's not about you, it's about the patient), you don't mind it at all. Because of the issues with skin breakdown and infection, there are lots of nifty tricks and such that are far different than what you think it would be like for someone in a hospital bed (the situation isn't great, but it's an improvement over what the worst case scenario you can think of will be). You don't look forward to it and you worry about a patient who is several incontinent of bowel and bladder, especially if they begin showing signs of skin breakdown, and you cringe when you go over a spot that has become tender and causes them pain. By that point, you don't even really realize what you're doing. You just do it because you must and your patient needs you to.

Plus, that interaction is part of your assessment -- you see what is going on with the patient and make decisions based on that. It's not cleaning up people who just decide to not get up to use the toilet anymore. It's not that by a long shot.

I really love this explanation and now I've read it twice and quote/posted it. It's so true.

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1,554 Visitors; 73 Posts

Many threads on this. Infants fundamental activities are eating, peeing, pooping, and emesis. Does this conversation come up when talking about having children?

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