What's it really like to be a nurse? - page 2

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... Read More

  1. by   lukalala
    Go for it! Definitely shadowing a nurse is a good idea, but it is a rewarding career. Much of what was said previously is true, but it is still satisfying and if you truly want to see results and have one-one time with your patients, them get into skilled home care. It's a growing field and satisfies all areas of what your goals fore mentioned. Best wishes.
  2. by   Rosa_G
    Your story sounds similar to mine. I worked in production management and was a technical consultant and did sales for a while... in the end I felt completely unfulfilled despite the fact that I was making 6 figures. At 40 plus, I know that my time left is waning... and I would be very sad to get to the end of my life and not be able to say that I really made a difference. I knew I wanted something and had medical in the back of my mind for years.. I did finally make the plunge, and I have No regrets what so ever BUT... I would recommend a few things - Really consider what you want to do and volunteer and see if it is right for you... I knew from my very first volunteer shift. I was helping a CNA clean a patient with a horrible pressure sore.. I dove right in but when it came to cleaning her, I hesitated, the CNA thought it was because I was grossed out.. not at all I was completely overwhelmed with questions in my mind.. like who did this to her, how did it happen, and is this going to hurt her... I was not at all grossed out. After volunteering, I got my CNA license and worked for a year while I completed my pre-reqs. My time as a CNA only further confirmed in my mind that this is what I want to do. It does not feel like work, it feels like I am just at a sick friends house caring for them.. but it is all documented and done according to procedure... You have to be honest with yourself and ask WHY are you making the move..if it is for the money you will not be happy and your patients will suffer. You need to be totally cool with blood and vomit and substances coming out of people that you never imagined could... You need to be able to deal with things changing and people getting angry at you when you are not the true source of their concerns... People come to the doctor not when they are looking and feeling their best.. they come when they are stinky, sweaty, ill and at their worst.. and often terrified... the awesome thing is that a good nurse can help a person through that and usually watch them get better...speaking of which... oh yes and you will need to be able to deal with death... as it happens, not after someone has cleaned up the person...but again, having been trained in how to care for people in those worst of times, you can even make a difference in death.. anyhoo sorry to ramble.. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE BUT you MUST think carefully aned be honest with yourself...it is not for everyone.. not that it is a bad thing if it is not.. but if it is for you for the right reasons, it is a wonderful calling.
  3. by   TestifyToLove
    I wouldn't go back to acute care Med/Surg nursing for all the tea in China *because* it is not about direct patient care anymore.

    It's true that as a new graduate you might have to spend a year in that setting to earn your stripes, so to speak. However, once you are a seasoned nurse, there are countless avenues of nursing that are NOT that acute care setting.

    I work Infusion Center nursing. A vast majority of our patients are Oncology patients. I absolutely get the chance to sit and hold hands. I get face to face patient time, cushy daytime hours and LOW patient to nurse ratios. If I opt to stay in nursing (still trying to decide where I'm going for graduate studies) I will likely head towards pediatrics, palliative care, or hospice. That's my personality. I went into nursing for pretty much what you are talking about, the direct contact with the patients. I have gone down areas of nursing that give me exactly that.

    I was shadowing on a Med/Surg unit this last week. I went back to my Dept and told my manager that the experience reminded me that I do NOT miss that world and that angle of nursing is NOT FOR ME.

    If that were all that nursing was, I would have never come back to this profession. It's not. There are lots of avenues of nursing.
  4. by   NurseDirtyBird
    It is a rewarding career for sure, but you have to be realistic about it. Are you willing to give give give, physically and emotionally? You have no idea much giving you do until you're doing the job.

    And then, it's not just a job. Being a nurse becomes part of your identity, even if you don't think it does. When you go home and take off your scrubs, you're still a nurse. You will think like one all the time. It is exceedingly difficult to not "take your work home." You will gross people out because you will talk about blood, guts and poop at the dinner table. You'll assess your friends every time they complain of a headache. People will solicit medical advice from you, regardless of the time of day. And the worst part, for me anyway, is that the general public believes it is your duty to serve them at all times, just because you are a nurse. It doesn't matter if you're in your sweats at the grocery store with your kids, if they know you're a nurse, they will show you their "weird rash." People will feel entitled to your care, and will try to suck the ever loving soul out of you, just because you're their nurse.
    You will hurt your back. Your feet will ache. Your hands will look awful from all the handwashing with harsh antibacterial soaps. And your patients die sometimes.

    But I sure do love it. I work my butt off, and most of the time, I feel good at the end of the day. You can't expect to make a huge difference in somebody's life with nursing, but you can make several small differences. I would do it all over again. I get to help people and families through some of the most difficult times in their lives.

    A few perks:
    1) I get to essentially wear pajamas to work. I also get to wear comfy shoes all the time.
    2) Not a day goes by that I don't learn something.
    3) The pay is pretty good, depending on specialty and level of education.
    4) I work with people who get my sick sense of humor. It's a coping mechanism lots of nurses employ.
    5) I love solving problems. My day is often full of them!
  5. by   joanna73
    Now that I know what it's really like to be a nurse, I realize that I should have chosen OT, PT or Recreation therapy instead of nursing. We don't have time to spend with people the way we would like, the workload is unrealistic, we often miss breaks, and stay late. Nursing has become like the corporate world....all about money, and less about people. The corporation does not care about the health of their patients, or their workers. Maybe this will change for the better eventually, but at the moment, that's what nursing has become.
  6. by   M/B-RN
    I encourage you to do things the others have said, to shadow and everything and really figure out if this is for you before you speak to a school! They will lie and suck you in talking about the "nursing shortage" and show you pamphlets with nice quotes and pictures of a nurse checking the blood pressure of a very cute kid.
  7. by   beeker
    You will quickly realize that nursing is not at all about relationships and patient care it is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! You need to take off the rose colored glasses and see what nursing really is. It is nothing like you imagine.
  8. by   SoldierNurse22
    I may be the exception to the rule here, but I have felt a calling to nurse since I was 3 years old.

    The patient ratios in my workplace allow me to spend time with my patients and develop a relationship.

    I strongly agree with those who have encouraged you to try the CNA route first. You will get to see what nurses do first hand and you will have lots of contact with patients. Shadow a nurse and try to get a feel for what we do.

    If this is something you really want, don't let the naysayers drag you down. It IS possible to enjoy what you do as a nurse, even if that appears to be against the odds on this board.
  9. by   marcos9999
    I think most of the comments prior to this one are true and nursing is hard but it's an honorable and noble profession what worries me is a more pragmatic and urgent question, that is how can you become a nurse?

    Going to school is hard and expensive but is doable but all of that pales in comparison to the hardship of getting trained and being hired after you obtained your licence.

    Weather there is or there isn't a nursing shortage is debatable but hospitals are the only entity who can train you as an RN. They happen to think that is not necessary to train new nurses at this time so what will happen to you is what happened to 60% of us new grads which is basically nothing. You'll see lot's of jobs but they all say 1 year of experience. New Grad programs appears once in a while and there are about 1000 applicants for every opening, with these kinds of ratios is almost like playing the lottery. Whey will this end and they will start training new nurses? No one knows it could take many years, 10, 15...

    This to me is the real problem with becoming a nurse and not the fact that is brutal and dangerous. In your case you can add the age factor which usually is not a problem but now it is. They are most likely to hire the young.

    Good luck
    Last edit by marcos9999 on Jan 27, '13
  10. by   loriangel14
    [The nursing workplace is dreadful and abusive, there is backstabbing, cheating and laying. It's dangerous, you can make med errors and kill someone, patients and managers, doctors will scream at you. Sorry but that is the reality....]

    That is not the reality for all of nursing.
  11. by   marcos9999
    Quote from loriangel14
    [The nursing workplace is dreadful and abusive, there is backstabbing, cheating and laying. It's dangerous, you can make med errors and kill someone, patients and managers, doctors will scream at you. Sorry but that is the reality....]

    That is not the reality for all of nursing.
    You are right. I apologize and I have edited my post.
  12. by   RNikkiF
    I'm not one to squash anyone else's dream. However, unfortunately a lot of what has been said is true. There are so many days that I come home feeling abused by patients, other nurses and management. I start running the minute I get in the door and I don't stop for 12 hrs. I rarely get the time I thought I'd have to sit with a patient and help them on a personal level. Having Sao that though, the moments when I feel I've made a real difference to someone keep me going. They DO happen. Not as often as I'd like, but they're there. If this is something you really want to do, go ahead and shadow several different bourses in different floors, specialties and shifts before you commit. Try to shadow at different facilities too. My first memory of wanting to be an RN was when I was four years old. I finally got the courage to do it when I was 34. It is not too late and you will not be in the minority at all. Make the decision carefully and really try to understand what you're getting into because it is a VERY demanding job that you'll have to learn how to NOT take with you when you leave. Good luck to you!
  13. by   OCNRN63
    Quote from loriangel14
    I am shocked at the negative replies. I went back to school at 38 to become a nurse it is the best thing I ever did. I love my job ( most days) and my coworkers. I find it rewarding and i have met a lot of great people. I have seen people at the worst time of their lives deal with tragedy with grace, humor and wit. I have learned what is really important in life and to not take anything for granted. I have been there to witness recovery and the special joy that comes with that.I have also been privileged to help people on that final journey.I couldn't imagine not being a nurse.
    I think some of the negative replies might have been tempered had the OP not stated he/she would be moving far from home to go to school, leaving a place where he/she has stability, friendships, family, etc. It's one thing to decide to change careers and do something else, but with everything the OP has stated and taking into account the downsides previous posters have noted, it might be better for the OP to consider it very carefully.