When Your Personal and Professional Life Collide
A career as a nurse has many benefits, and sometimes these skills can be helpful for your personal life. Although sometimes it can be frustrating if your family acts as if having a nursing degree means you know everything—or nothing. While other times it’s satisfying to realize that you know more than you think you do.
Congratulations, you're a nurse! The questions and solicitation of advice from family and friends may have started before you finished nursing school. Perhaps it began when you took your first step on the clinical floor, or the day you hauled that stack of nursing books home. Whether you're the first, or one of many nurses in your family, there's a sense of pride, and often certain expectations, that accompany becoming the nurse in your family. The expectation may be that you know everything, or nothing, but usually you come to realize you know more than you think.
When They Think You Know Everything
Let's ask the nurse. Despite most everyone having access to the Internet to quickly look up the answer to any question in extensive detail, you've become nurse Google. Whether it's a question related to your area of nursing expertise, or one that is more appropriate for a vascular surgeon, ophthalmologist, dentist, or even a veterinarian, it's assumed that you readily have the answer because it's a medical question.
Granted, you might be required to research some of these questions, but your nursing knowledge gives you the benefit of being able to sort through some of the inaccurate, or unrealistic, medical information found in abundance on the Internet.
Friends, family, and neighbors text or call you about everything from a minor scrape to broken bones, either hoping to avoid a trip to the doctor, or for your mom to confirm to her friends that, "You just call my daughter or son about that, they'll tell you what to do, they're a nurse."
When They Think You Don't Know Anything
You're just a nurse. With an inability to accept that those years of classes, and even more years of experience, might've given you an edge, the opinion seems to be that any other person in the world may be a better resource for medical information than you. You may be forced to defend your well-meaning advice with your knowledge and expertise but are often still met with doubt. Your family has known you since you were an infant, how could you possibly know anything about their medical needs?
This is especially true if your advice isn't something they're willing to follow. It's much easier to declare that you don't know what you're talking about rather than change their diet, have that test done, or follow your recommendations.
When you Know More than You Think
I'm just a nurse. As the years' pass, and you settle further into a specialty, sometimes it can seem as if it's impossible to keep up with the rapid changes in health care. Many of the things you learned in nursing school seem as if they're becoming obsolete, or the technology and methods used today in nursing make you feel as if you need to go back to school for a nursing refresher. Then a family member asks a question about health care that you answer without hesitation, thinking, doesn't everyone know that?
Often you may realize that some things you'd come to believe were common sense was really knowledge gained from your nursing experience. After you've been a nurse for so many years these insights and instincts become a part of you. Many things can change in the delivery of nursing care, but the common goals remain the same. With more than one way to reach optimum health and wellness, you may discover that the knowledge you've gained is evergreen, and can still serve your patients, and family, well.
Knowledge is Priceless
You're more than a nurse. You may recognize yourself in more than one, or none, of these expectations from family and friends when you become a nurse. Or perhaps your nursing knowledge base seems to vary from person to person, or depending upon their ailment, or whether they truly desire to accept your advice. Sometimes it seems as if they're only looking for someone to validate that they don't need to comply with their physician recommendations.
A certain pride comes with starting the journey to become a nurse and expands with each additional rung on your nursing career ladder. Even once you've hung up your cap and retired from nursing, you'll still always be a nurse. As the most trusted profession, the value of the knowledge gained through schooling, patient care, and years of experience, can come with certain expectations, but also incredible value.
Did Becoming a Nurse Change Expectations?
About Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN
Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com
Joined: Mar '05; Posts: 52; Likes: 215
from PA , US
Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in Leadership|Psychiatric Nursing|Education