First of all, I congratulate you on entering the field at the last rung on the ladder. Some nurses I have worked with have no concept of just what a CNA sees and does in a shift.
I also think you are wise to give so much thought about entering our field. It is not all guts and glory like the TV show ER.
Yes, it is about being understaffed...and overworked...and 9 times out of 10 underpaid as well.
We see people at thier absolute worst...and sometimes that can apply to the families of the pts as well.
We are surrounded by our co workers, so are also burned out ..suffer from lack of sleep...are over stressed...and under appreciated.--and so the dark heavy cloud of gloom seems to be heavier yet.
Out units are over lighted, noisy, chaotic, and just down right frenzied at times.
We deal with doctors who are chronically in a hurry and always right, social workers who want the demographics they can find in the chart, but would rather ask you, dieticians who cannot for the life of them figure out why Mr Smith has not gotten his peanut butter snack, and an assortment of hospital staff--EKG,Lab,Pharmacy---who either need the chart or the nurse or both.
In a nursing home setting as you well know it is even worse...because not only do you care for the pts like your hospital counterparts do....you admit them, become a part of thier " family" and then have to watch them go...sometimes slowly.
But...I became a nurse at the age of 30--and have never looked back.I was an EMT,a CNA, and now a RN with her ASN. The way I see it--if you were not there to care--who would be?? Do it...make the committment, as they say now- DARE TO CARE !!! You will not regret it. When you see the pain ease away after giving a shot, see the weeping pt smile, watch the daughter hold her mothers hand and say thank you...no you will not regret it at all !!!