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How can I figure out if nursing is right for me?

Pre-Nursing   (2,344 Views 29 Comments)
by ShouldIBeNurse ShouldIBeNurse (New) New Pre-Student

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Sour Lemon has 9 years experience.

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7 hours ago, Pixie.RN said:

Is that what you think patient care entails? Fluffing pillows and fetching icewater? You really need to shadow or nurse or get some experience as a CNA (without making the excuses about why you can't be a CNA). 

I think that was in response to me pointing out that nursing was not all "hard science" (which the OP indicated a preference for).

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By reading your posts, I am kinda convinced that if you jump into nursing without knowing what is real, you will most likely be ended up in disappointment. 
Let me give you a real life example on patient and staff safety. Repositioning or transferring patient is a nurses daily task. Nothing special. In the us, more than 70 percent of the population is either overweight or obese, so often times it is impossible for a nurse alone to move the patient. It is evidence based practice (or just common sense) that you need help of another nurse or nurse aide to do the task for safety of patient and staff. In the real nursing world, you may not have enough help at all because the management does not care. They wanna maximize the profit, so why do they put extra staff? This is nursing.

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Your original question is how can you see if nursing is for you.  The answer is to become a CNA.  If you can't find a CNA school that works for you, then nursing school will not work for you. 

You seem to know yourself really well, and please know that each professor in nursing school can teach a little differently.  There will definitely be group work, online work, text book work etc.  You will have to adhere to what the teacher wants and go with the flow.

You mention avoiding combativeness.  As a nurse you are the center point of patient care, coordinating all of the problems.  You will have combative patients, pissed off family members and frustrated employees to deal with.  Many of us have been assaulted in the workplace.  Even in nursing school some instructors can treat students crappy and nurses precepting students act like the students are in the way.  It also seems like every new law, regulation or policy is stacked on the nurses' shoulders.  

If you can get 12 hour shifts, then yes a 36-hour/week schedule is great.  Know that some nurses have to work graveyard shift and wait years to get a day shift position on their unit. It depends on your specialty and location.

 

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WhaleTails has 1 years experience.

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On 8/27/2019 at 3:49 AM, ShouldIBeNurse said:

Patient care, like reassuring people while doing something in their room, or transporting them in a wheelchair, or fluffing pillows, or getting ice water, is just fine. I've realized that I'm really motivated to do work when it is for an individual person I can see, rather than crunching numbers to benefit a large corporation. 

What I was concerned about in my old health care related school (which I'm not going to mention because I want to stay anonymous) was an attitude that we have to validate patients for being who they are and the care they want to the extent that you tolerate that they won't vaccinate their kids.  Or a guest presentation that talks about crystals grow differently depending on whether they are listening to heavy metal or classical. And that the profession has to follow a certain philosophy and it doesn't matter if it is backed up by research or not. No evidence-based practice.

 

But...registered nurse or not you're going to have these people too, the ones who don't believe in vaccination or want to use essential oils to cure their diabetes. The patient is absolutely entitled to not want to receive some, or all, care. Other than providing education on treatments and disease processes there's not really anything you can do about it except document that the patient reports that they're smearing "antibacterial" Manuka honey on their rotting toes.

You mention getting ice water and fluffing pillows...What about the patient with impaired circulation that has a fist-sized non-healing pressure ulcer down to their coccyx that smells like rotting meat when you have to change their dressing?

Or the psychiatric patient who throws a chair at you during medication time?

Or the the 400lb bedbound patient with c. diff that defecated on themselves and now somehow has feces from their neck to their ankles? Some units have CNAs that can help you, but you're going to be elbow-deep in crap too, especially as a nursing student. I'm a student and that happened. And the smell of c. diff is something you'll always recognize forever after that. Trying to clean up your patient while you're sweating to death, wearing a full isolation gown, gloves and mask was a HUGE learning experience.

It's not all providing comfort and passing out medications to sick people. You related to your own personal experiences as a patient, and the experience you've seen with family members...unless you've seen someone be combative or 100% dependent for all care I'm not sure how accurate that picture is.

 

 

Edited by WhaleTails

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MSO4foru has 14 years experience as a ADN and specializes in Hospice Home Care and Inpatient.

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So yeah... as I hope you have gathered from previous posters, Nursing Jobs aren't a cakewalk. All of us in this field work very hard. We worry about our pts far beyond when the shift is done. Perhaps if you are still considering nursing, bedside would not be your best fit. With Respect, MSO4FORU 

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I did not think nursing was easy. I did not think nursing school was easy. I was trying to figure out if it was something I could do if I took good care of myself mentally and tried to achieve some balance.  And I've been the friend of a nurse working nights and weekends while trying to have a social life and seeing how difficult balance is from the outside. 

Realized it would have helped if I put the person I was responding to before the comments, but at this point there are too many to quote.

Trying here: 

"What about the patient with impaired circulation that has a fist-sized non-healing pressure ulcer down to their coccyx that smells like rotting meat when you have to change their dressing?"

Saw something similar while shadowing for my other health care school. LPN did that while I was talking to someone else in the room. Might have only been golf-ball sized. Patient had a stoma/colostomy bag, if that's the right terminology, to let the ulcer heal. I'm pretty tolerant of smells. 

Shadowing is a good idea. I knew other health care professions did that but didn't know you could do it in nursing. I would do a lot of shadowing before committing to go for a CNA program, and would want to find one with a good reputation. I'm still early in the investigation stage trying to decide between multiple very different careers. 

I know that a lot of nurses work nights - that's actually something that I would prefer now and one of the reasons I've started considering nursing. 

The idea that maybe I'm intolerant of people with other beliefs is something to think about. I was trying to give examples of things that are clearly against medical advice, or one of my pet peeves where people quote studies without having read the study and how it was conducted.

I don't have a problem with a faith healing or alternative medicine on minor things, or as something to try first or in conjunction with standard medical practice. I don't have issues with an elderly patient refusing invasive treatment. I do have issues with treating cancer with nutrition alone, when a patient isn't ready to die, without seriously counseling the patient. I do have issues with an unvaccinated child with measles exposing a waiting room full of babies too young to get vaccines. People have a right to their own mostly informed choices, until they put others at risk.  

As far as my exposure to some of the less pleasant aspects of medical care, I've seen family members in a nursing home long term, mostly blind, mostly deaf, some amount of dementia, unable to toilet, feed, walk, a month before their death, and still receiving PT and OT care when there was little/no hope of recovery. I've seen patients crying in the shower when they were embarrased about being incontinent while showering.

I've watched the kid who was struggling as a tube got shoved up their nose, ripped it out, then got their arms tied down. 

I've tried to help acquaintances who were semi-homeless and in and out of psych wards for borderline personality disorder and delusions. I've volunteered around people that I gradually realized were homeless alcoholics making up stories because of wet brain. Psych nursing is one area I'm considering. I couldn't be a therapist though. 

For me, it's important to do work I believe in. I also would rather work together with people I'm in conflict with than work alone on a computer all day. I was trying to express that I prefer to be supportive, collaborative, nurturing of other people than to butt heads, and I don't think it came out right. A good bit of my professional life has been dealing with male engineers that prefer computers and equipment to people.

I don't know everything about nursing. Which is why I think shadowing will help - thanks whoever suggested it. That's why I posted this thread - asking how can I find out what nursing is like before going to school for it (or something to do while waiting for a CNA class to come around), or putting efforts into taking prerequisites for it. All of my exposure to nursing has been incidental while doing other things. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, ShouldIBeNurse said:

I was trying to express that I prefer to be supportive, collaborative, nurturing of other people than to butt heads, and I don't think it came out right. A good bit of my professional life has been dealing with male engineers that prefer computers and equipment to people.

That also didn't come out quite right but can't edit it, and not sure what refinement would make it right. I'm trying to make comparisons between two professions when you don't know exactly what I mean and I don't know exactly what you guys mean. So saying I want to do more X (deal with people) and less Y (sit at a computer for 8-12 hours a day without talking to a single person) doesn't make any sense out of context. I don't have any objection to there being people who prefer computers and equipment to the exclusion of human beings (in fact I generally like them socially), I'm just not one of them.

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I actually think  you're overthinking it.  There are some things about nursing that are just CRAPPY.  There are some things that are great.  You said that you've been kind of bouncing around in different programs trying to find a fit, when nothing is going to be a 100% good fit for any of us.  If you decide to pursue nursing, you really have to jump in head first - take a CNA class, take a full load of pre-reqs and jump through every hoop they make you jump through.  If you overthink your patients' beliefs, knowledge level, how they're interpreting articles/studies, how much computer time vs. face time you prefer, you will drive yourself and your professors crazy.  

As a nurse you will deal intimately with the public and all of their beliefs/opinions.  

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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11 hours ago, ShouldIBeNurse said:

 

I know that a lot of nurses work nights - that's actually something that I would prefer now and one of the reasons I've started considering nursing. 

The idea that maybe I'm intolerant of people with other beliefs is something to think about. I was trying to give examples of things that are clearly against medical advice, or one of my pet peeves where people quote studies without having read the study and how it was conducted.

I don't have a problem with a faith healing or alternative medicine on minor things, or as something to try first or in conjunction with standard medical practice. I don't have issues with an elderly patient refusing invasive treatment. I do have issues with treating cancer with nutrition alone, when a patient isn't ready to die, without seriously counseling the patient. I do have issues with an unvaccinated child with measles exposing a waiting room full of babies too young to get vaccines. People have a right to their own mostly informed choices, until they put others at risk.  

I appreciate that you are willing to give these issues some thought.   You don't sound like an unreasonably rigid person -- but you need to think through how well you will tolerate some things that you disagree with.   Most of us have fairly firm beliefs about parents not getting proper treatment for their kids because of unscientific beliefs ... and many of us with knowledge of "good science" get frustrated with those who latch on to beliefs based on poorly conducted studies, etc.  (There is nothing wrong with qualitative research if it is done well, by the way.  Unfortunately, a lot of people do it badly.)     But in nursing, we have to live with such realities whether we like them or not.   That's part of the package and you'll need to consider that as you make your decision.

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WhaleTails has 1 years experience.

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12 hours ago, ShouldIBeNurse said:

I do have issues with treating cancer with nutrition alone, when a patient isn't ready to die, without seriously counseling the patient.

There are limits to "seriously counseling," depending on your definition of serious. You work too hard to try and convince the patient of the error of their ways, and the patient just...doesn't come back. They seek care elsewhere or stop seeking professional medical care altogether and opt to treat their malady at home with herbs and snake oil.

And it isn't just "alternative medicine," there are also people of certain religions that will skip lifesaving measures because their God disallows it. Jehovah's Witnesses come to mind. Their religion forbids blood transfusions and blood products, and a patient might die because of it. Parents can refuse lifesaving measures for their children on religious grounds, and at least 40 states have laws protecting the parents in the interest of religious freedom.

These seem like extreme cases, but it's not as rare as you might think. Orthodox Judaism has some sort of doctrine about vaccination, and it caused a huge outbreak of VPD in upstate New York; the outbreak was so severe a State of Emergency was declared.

You seem to understand the dirty work of nursing -- maybe what you need to consider are the ethical implications as well. If you've offered the best education you can and someone still refuses to vaccinate their kid or decides to treat their cancer with magic tea or a parent forgoes a relatively common medical procedure and their child will die...are you able to step back and accept their choice?

It's reality and it happens. Where I work, a patient was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and received multiple opinions from different oncologists, all recommending chemotherapy. The patient declined and chose ozone therapy and tea leaves. He died. And there wasn't a damn thing anybody could do about it.

 

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5 hours ago, Golden_RN said:

You said that you've been kind of bouncing around in different programs trying to find a fit, when nothing is going to be a 100% good fit for any of us.  I actually think  you're overthinking it.  ......If you decide to pursue nursing, you really have to jump in head first - take a CNA class, take a full load of pre-reqs and jump through every hoop they make you jump through. 

I've been bouncing around partly because I didn't take a good look at the programs before starting on most of the programs I've been in. Either not looking at the program, or not looking at how well they would prepare me for a profession or both.  So I'm trying to look at prospective professions carefully. Going for the CNA and taking a ton of pre-reqs *before* deciding it's for me isn't the right route to go when it puts me further away from other things I'm doing. The decision to get out of my old career was done without enough thought put into it - I just picked the new career based on news articles that it was a good field. 

My old health care profession might have been fine at a different school that was less intense, or if my personal health care issues hadn't been acting up. Something I was taking then had bad medication side effects that I didn't realize until I stopped taking it. And if I hadn't been so stubborn about they were making us jump through hoops, and or putting up with a philosophy I rolled my eyes at. 

One of my problems is that I didn't do any shadowing for my other health care program until I had made a huge commitment of taking pre-reqs. All I knew was that it was less physically demanding than some of the other things I was considering, like nursing. CNA school and/or working as a CNA is likely to be as much or more physically demanding than most nursing. As an older personI should probably get back into shape where I could better handle the lifting required.

I'm not necessarily looking at what I can and can't put up with as being picky. I'm looking at what I can do given mild disabilities, including the beginnings of age-related hearing loss. I'm far from needing hearing aids, but noisy environments, with quiet speakers sitting far away who have a strong accent, I can't see their face, and get annoyed when asked to repeat themselves is an issue. 

 

Edited by ShouldIBeNurse

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BeatsPerMinute has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Cardiac.

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I think you are doing the right thing - you're easing into it and asking questions. I know that some people have jumped ship from their old careers right into nursing and (not always) but sometimes it has not worked out well. 

Continue to expose yourself to the field, shadow, and be mindful and open. Work on yourself as well - this statement is meant to be helpful, not harsh, I promise. Be honest with yourself on what you don't like and really dig deep into the WHYs, and see if it something that you can work around or is an absolute "there's no way I will do...." Ease into something that gets you excited. It always makes it easier to learn something new when you are excited about it rather than something you felt pushed into or something you "fell into" and from there discovered that you did not like it.

Decide on the school later. One day at a time and one task at a time 🙂 

One thing thing that has been helpful in helping me on deciding where I want to go with my career is watching videos on youtube about that career. I can watch and learn about anything in a field that I am curious about: education, promotion, day to day tasks, challenges/harships, personal experiences (positive and negative). 

Listening to you I wonder if you'd prefer something more technologically sound - like a procedural area. Just an idea! 

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