Hope for Nurses


I became a nurse because I had a very idealistic view of finding a vocation "where I could make a difference/save the world/right all the wrong out there" etc. I flirted with the idea of social work but after talking with some people who were social workers got steared in the direction of nursing. I have always done exceptionally well academically throughout high school and college (valedictorian, summa cum laude).

In nursing school I got to be a part of the hospital setting. I hated it. Nurses are mean and competitive. A lot of my peers in school were ruthless (cheated on tests, made for bad friendships/relationships) and I graduated top of my class disillusioned. Did I make a huge mistake putting all my time and self into this career path and was I stuck working with horrible, money hungry humans?

I didn't work as a nurse until just six months ago, I graduated from nursing school 5 years ago. I took a job as a program manager right after nursing school NOT using my RN for an adult day health program for DD adults and TB adults. I loved it. I spend almost my entire day interacting with people that really needed help and I could offer them a safe place where they could interact with each other and have all their basic needs met and start fostering the needs that often get neglected with disabled people, the need of human relationship.

Finally I decided I guess I should work as a nurse before I decide it's not for me and have been working in a big non-profit setting doing LTC that has a decent corporate vibe and for another tiny non-profit home health job at an AFH. I like working with elderly but there is a corporate vibe at the LTC facility and the salaries are inflated and there are a lot of people around who get paid a lot who never touch a resident (which makes no sense to me) but I guess that's the world of healthcare.

At the AFH the pay is almost half but the kind of care given and my coworkers are amazing. There is so much heart in that place. I love it. You know its a good place when your nursing supervisor is willing to come in on her day off to help you with a resident at 6am. The owner of our home has come in and helped me shower a DD adult with a seizure disorder at 7am on a Saturday. You just don't have that at the big facilities. I listen to the corporate managers speak at the LTC place about this or that and I find myself having almost no respect for this person who makes so much money and yet I'm not entirely sure how they fill their day. I have hope for the world of healthcare but boughts of feeling hopeless at times.

Nurses are always complaining about their pay and it breaks my heart that there are so many nurses out their that are willing to use their skills and training for a $$ amount and the quality of care they provide and the setting that care is provided means nothing for $8-10 more an hour. I'm just hoping some other people can post their stories about going into nursing and the hope they have for the workplace and if some nurses who have been doing nursing for a long time can speak to not getting burned out and settings they have work that don't break their heart. Anyways, would love to hear stuff/stories.

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

I love being a nurse myself. Does the work break my heart? Absolutely!! When a mother arrives at the bedside, having just received the call at 0300 that her son has just shot himself in the head, it breaks my heart. When a mother of four young kids--who are still overseas because she had come to the US first--is lying broken and severely brain damaged because a truck driver wouldn't drive at a speed safe for road conditions, it breaks my heart. When a dad begs his 20 y/o son with tears in his voice to "please wake up...your sister misses you at dinner," after being in a head-on collision on the way to work, it breaks my heart.

And you know what? The thought of leaving my work, even for something as wonderful as being home full-time with my kids, breaks my heart. :nurse: And so I keep going back.

You clearly have a big heart and a sharp mind--this combo is a huge asset to the nursing profession! But I'll share a few thoughts on your post that came to my mind.

You do sound really idealistic. It sounds like you have some expectations that are not the norm in real life.

You're going to be extremely hard pressed to find anyone willing to come in on their day off for situations like you describe. Of course there are staff nurses/CNAs who will pick up shifts if someone calls off sick, but to come in just to help w/ a particular resident or task? Everyone needs work-life balance. Everyone needs days off. To never be able to just enjoy your day off, enjoy your family and friends, recharge, etc. is a recipe for burnout. That's not a lack of passion for their work--it's being wise.

I'm not sure what the management at your place makes (do you know how much they make, really?) But, I happen to be married to a suit so will speak to that. He's not in healthcare; he's the CFO of a hedge fund firm. I truly don't understand what he does on a day-to-day basis. But I know he works under a lot of pressure. Some days he comes home and gets lost in Korean soap operas, some days he falls asleep sitting up on the couch, b/c he's just mentally exhausted. Some days he doesn't even come home until after the kids are in bed b/c he doesn't work 8- hour shifts. He works until the work is done. The kids and I will barely see him this week b/c he's travelling. He's gone Tuesday-Thursday, and leaving again on Saturday night and won't be home until next Thursday. (He's leaving over the weekend b/c he's flying overseas and wants to get on top of the jet lag before Monday.) He does make a good salary--not the level that you hear about exec's making, but good--but he EARNS it. I'm sure management in healthcare works under a lot of pressure themselves. They're not hands on with the clients, but they're dealing with the mountains of legal issues, budgeting, everything that is involved in running a facility beyond resident care, litigation... I don't see it as being a cushy job at all.

I also don't see nurses being money hungry. Really, we're in the wrong profession if we're money hungry. :uhoh3: But we shouldn't feel we need to be willing to work for substandard wages either, just because We Are Nurses. We should be paid decent wages because we are nurses. We are professionals. We have life-preserving responsibility; we make life-and-death decisions. We can be sued for malpractice. This work can be hard on our bodies. Nor does making more mean our work will be shoddy (at least that's how I took your statement

nurses out their that are willing to use their skills and training for a $$ amount and the quality of care they provide and the setting that care is provided means nothing for $8-10 more an hour
to mean.) That's a work ethic issue, not a money issue. Now personally, I do plan on eventually doing some surgical mission work on a volunteer basis... but right now, I'm employed. And I see no shame in being compensated fairly.
Specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management. Has 17 years experience.

Liked the post, Here!

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

I wanted to post something of a variant that I have posted before; couldn't find it (on the phone... :sneaky:) so here it goes:

To the OP: I was discouraged many years ago as a middle school student at a career fair; the economy sucked, healthcare reimbursement was changing (sound familiar?).

What I did was be very objective to the information that was being presented to me; if I had listened to the nurse and became a writer (she advised me to do something that I loved-I love to write) I would've missed out on a career that fit for me.

I enjoy being a nurse; I never felt disrespected, stomped on, etc. I have been in this business for 14 years and I have an objectivity in approaching interacting with the human condition in its most vulnerable state; and it can be ugly, and challenging, and that's putting it very mildly. In all my years of being in healthcare; I have always felt empowered; even more so as a licensed nurse.

As long as you are cognizant of the challenges of nursing and can be self aware in those times of challenge, you will carve you niche out and enjoy this business; you can also help evolve and preserve the positives of the profession as many generations have done in the past-it will be up to YOU.