don't forget that in many places, you will never know when you will be getting off of work. if the end of your shift is 7:15, you may have a high chance of still being on the floor waiting for the oncoming nurses to get there or to finish getting report from other nurses. and it may be likely (maybe even certain) that you will have charting to finish which may take you up to 2-2 1/2 hours to complete, depending on how much happened during your day. so you may have to learn never to plan anything for the evenings of days you work since you don't know if you'll still be working or not.
speaking of paperwork, i hope you like it, because you will be doing lots and lots of it. many care plans
, which have NEVER been useful to me. i don't need some generic form to tell me what needs to be done for my patient, i need to assess them. it's also fun to fill out documentation on safety rounds, stating you were in the room every two hours when, in fact, anybody who looks at your charting will see that you filled in all of these particular slots for 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 1800 hours at 8:30 in the evening. you'll forget to chart important things, but you'll remember to chart "pt. lying in bed, watching tv" quite often.
you'll get calls on your spectralink phone every 5 minutes because another patient has called requesting something from you, or phyical therapy wants you to premed the patient NOW for their exercises, or the husband helped his wife to the bathroom and someone needs to help her take her shower but the CNA is busy so you'll have to do it yourself right away because she's already sitting on the shower chair naked. oh, and rest assured that every time you are cleaning up poop or are sterile for a dressing change, your phone WILL ring, and you won't be able to answer it. expect that, and expect to get griped at later by whoever was calling because you didn't answer.
if you're diabetic, don't count on being able to always eat when you need to. a small (think bite-sized) snack may suffice, but only if you remember to take it before you start feeling your sugar drop. often, 2-3 hours can go by in what feels like a few minutes, and you're wondering where all your time went.
also, be prepared for the chance of developing kidney stones. i've known several nurses who have this problem. you can't carry water around with you. according to OSHA and most hospital policies, you can't have any liquids at the nurses stations or where you chart - only in the break rooms. think it must be easy to get 2-3 minutes during the day to run in and chug something quickly? sometimes, but sometimes not. and microwaved meals? only if you're lucky. more likely you'll be eating that for dinner after your shift is over, and only consuming ready-to-eat food during the day (sandwiches, crackers, etc.). i've had many a 12-hours shift with only one bathroom break, and i often can't help but wonder at the color and stench of my own urine which is so abnormal from the norm.
have a good memory? if not, get ready to have long, extensive To Do lists. oh, and try to train your mind before you graduate to displace yourself from your stress. the key to getting through your day? force yourself not to care that you have one patient with a dangerously low blood pressure complaining of chest pain, another with difficulty breathing who needs to be suctioned, and two asking for pain meds ASAP (not to mention that patient who hasn't called you and thus hasn't been seen by you for 3 hours). if forced relaxation doesn't work, be prepared for bursts of anger and possibly a shower of tears because you can't keep up with everything and nobody else can help you because they're all in the same boat.
not know everything about nursing? well don't worry. you won't know everything at first. in fact, for the first couple of years you'll feel like you know nothing. gradually, you'll get to where you feel comfortable in your area. then, you'll change specialties and start all over knowing nothing again.
also, get ready to clean up the messes the shift before you left behind. i've worked days and nights, and i can say that both shifts are guilty of this. rest assured that many, many days you come on shift, you will spend 30 minutes to an hour just trying to finish up the most pressing matters before you even begin to start your morning routine.
you must be a counselor to be a nurse. patients want to know what you know about their conditions, and they want to know what you think the next steps in their recovery process will be. families will want to know what you're doing for their loved one and will bring up problems that you will have to fix ASAP just to keep the peace, even if you know them to be minor problems. patients will gripe about everything from the weather, to the condition of the room, to the nurse they had on the previous shift, to how many times the phlebotomist stuck them, to the food, etc. etc. and you will have to listen and be sympathetic even if you personally do not agree with them.
probably the worst thing about being a nurse is the non-compliant patients. i know everyone has a right to live the way they want, but i personally feel my time is wasted when my patient with end-stage renal disease stops by sonic for a limeade on their way into the hospital because they can't breathe due to fluid overload. or my hypertensive patient is refusing their blood pressure meds because "it feels too low" when their blood pressure gets less than 190 systolic. or my double-amputee diabetic patient has their family sneak them snickers bars. if it's simply a lack of education, that's fine. i can and will take the time to educate them as best i know how. but so often patients KNOW what they need to do, and just don't do it because it's inconvenient for them.
no, i stand corrected. the worse is having a patient with open wounds i wouldn't wish on my worst enemy whose family won't let them take any pain medicine stronger than tylenol when they're around because "everything else makes her crazy." and try convincing a physician the pain medicine they ordered isn't strong enough or isn't working. they may have specific ideas on what they want to do for their patients, but they aren't the ones being yelled and cussed at by patients and family members alike because they've maxed out on their pain medication and you can't legally give them any more.
sufficiently discouraged? believe me, there is plenty good to nursing, and i think everyone should give it a shot if they truly believe this is where their hearts lie. but everyone should also be aware that there are many, many problems with nursing in this country, and we have a long way to go to fix them.