Insight from current nurses- do you like your jobs?


Hi everyone,

I'm currently a nursing student doing a one year accelerated program to get my BSN, about one month in. I'm experiencing some doubts about my decision to go into this field and I'm hoping that some nurses out in the field can give me some insight.

I've always loved medicine and known that I wanted to work as a part of it. I love helping people and genuinely want to care for people who need it most. I love the material that I'm learning in class and I like that nursing is a stable job that pays well, gives good benefits and has options for movement and growth within in.

However, I keep hearing my professors talk about insane staffing ratios in hospitals, as high as 12 patients to one nurse. I hear about nurses being stretched so thin on their shifts and worked to the point of total exhaustion. I'm not afraid of hard work, I do want to work hard especially for something that I feel really makes a difference in someone's life, but I am concerned that I am idealizing the career and that its not how I picture it in reality. I've read more online and some nurses sound totally miserable and stresssed from being overworked and are simply expected to do too much. Now I am afraid that maybe I'm not making the right decision in my career path. I know some nurses really love their jobs which gives me hope.

maybe you can give me some insight into what working as a nurse day in and day out is like? My clinicals won't give me the real picture as we'll only be assigned to 1-3 patients for only 8 hour shifts.

edit: I have worked in a hospital and nursing home as an intern medical scribe and as a medical secretary for a year.

The only thing I would have done differently is leave hospital nursing a decade sooner although I do recommend it as it is invaluable for the experience and many love it.

I am still surprised more states do not have safe staffing laws, it has been at least 10 years since they were passed here in California & I expected more states to follow suit.

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

2 Articles; 6,837 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 12 years experience.

Nursing is hard. That is no surprise. There are good places to work and not so good places to work; however, that is true in any industry, not just nursing. If your heart is that of a nurse, you will be a nurse and learn to make the most of opportunities to situate yourself well.

I did five years as a floor nurse, but worked on advancing my education during that time. About the time I graduated with my MSN I was able to stop floor nursing and go into professional development. I am now loving my job. I loved being a floor nurse too, but was hard.

Don't let fear stop you from doing something you want.


4,103 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.
However, I keep hearing my professors talk about insane staffing ratios in hospitals, as high as 12 patients to one nurse. I hear about nurses being stretched so thin on their shifts and worked to the point of total exhaustion.

I have never heard of 12:1 ratio in a hospital (in the US), except for LTC. ICUs have 1:1 or 2:1 ratio and Med/Surg 4:1 to 6:1 ratio. There are days (this past Monday) when I was super busy and was exhausted at the end of my shift, but that is the exception and not the rule. Starting out as a new grad, you will be busier than your co-workers, not because of your workload, but because of your organizational and time management skills. As time goes on you will learn to work smarter and not harder.


1,585 Posts

12:1 in acute care? I highly doubt that. Are you worked to the point of exhaustion? Yes. It's not easy.


28 Posts

I work at a manufacturing plant with 1400 employees, and we have an occupational health department of five RNs and a nurse manager. I love my job! My "patients" are walking, talking, and working to support their families, but they have problems or knowledge deficits like inpatients. They are the same patients as the hospital nurse… Only they haven't had that MI or CVA just yet, for instance. Or they've returned to work with new medications and new diagnoses. Our clinical skills are just as essential as the acute care nurse, but in Occ nursing, we can direct the team member to appropriate level of care to prevent the emergency, such as getting them to urgent care for a new Rx for untreated hypertension. Or educate the 4-month pregnant team member why prenatal care is absolutely necessary (and assist her to locate a primary doc in company insurance network).

I think my favorite aspect of my nursing practice in the workplace is that our " patients " are in a headspace where learning can occur, time spent to ensure understanding, and the person can process and and ask questions. Whereas, in the hospital setting, it's hugely stressful for patient and family during hospital admission - it's a crisis on some level, the time is just not available for intimate 1:1 engagement for wholly effective teaching and learning. So we pick up where the acute setting nurse left off, reinforce the teaching that was already given but the patient may not have understood or received well due to stressors.

I also worked inpatient medical rehab, and I really enjoyed that, because the patients typically had a two-week length of stay or more. With Primary Nursing model, the relationship was built, and teaching could be done in small bursts and reinforced many times for successful transition to home. It was physical work and yeah, we worked short staffed at times. Overall, I am grateful to still wear scrubs but not work in a hospital. I am a vital component in the continuum of patient care!


6,527 Posts

I have worked with precisely a 12:1 ratio in acute care, but it was over a decade ago - - it was the regular/expected staffing ratio on my unit from 23-07 at that time, though. Each RN was assigned with a tech, but still. It was an Onc unit, so the RNs were overwhelmed pushing pain and nausea meds, hanging blood products and antibiotics, and of course chemo. I trust things have changed. I certainly have not heard of any ratio like that lately.

I love patient care, and I love doing in the acute setting. I have zero desire for any hospital nursing job that doesn't deal directly with patient care. That said, I haven't been thrilled with the way things have changed even in the past 5 years or so. There's just an abundance of extraneous "stuff" that is becoming an overwhelming distraction away from excellent patient care. I despise spending 5 minutes assessing my patient as quickly as possible and then 15 minutes clicking box after box, for one example. That said, it is a rewarding experience to care for patients; to be a nurse. I agree with the positives you mentioned in your OP as well. I wouldn't let your instructors' stories scare you away from something for which you may be gifted. It's possible they say those things to help weed out those who aren't too serious...and it's possible their information may be flat-out incorrect.

Think it though. If you want to care for people and you love the material you're learning - those are good signs! Nursing is certainly an opportunity to never be bored and never be done learning.

Best wishes ~


127 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVICU. Has 3 years experience.

I think the fact that you are having these thoughts pop up is a good thing. The nursing profession should not be idealized or glorified! It has many problems. But for many people, they couldn't imagine doing anything else. It sounds like your heart is in the right place, and I think you'll do wonderful.

And FWIW, nurses love to over dramatize nursing, which I see as a defense mechanism to garner more respect from other professions. It's a tough job, but take stories you read online with a grain of salt.

Also, 12:1 may happen but it is absolutely NOT the norm. Besides, many states have passed or are trying to pass safe staffing laws. It's only a matter of time.

dream'n, BSN, RN

1,162 Posts

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych. Has 30 years experience.

I keep seeing post after post from nursing students that they are drawn into this field because they "care so much and really want to support hurting people"; that they are born to be "caregivers." Well not to bust anyone's bubble, but most of my experience as a nurse has been running around and putting out fires. Very few nursing positions now days will pay to staff enough so that nurses have time to provide any type of hand holding or really get to know their patients. Most nurses barely have time to keep up, and most shifts are way too busy with immediate needs and tasks that nurses simple run out of time to provide that extra special personal touch. Of course most nurses have those rare occasions when they feel that they were able to provide total nurturing care to a patient and those moments are cherished, but in all honesty a large amount of a nurses time is spent running from priority to priority. There is way more work to do than there is time to do it in. As a nurse you will earn every penny you make, because the 'bean counters' make sure of it.


901 Posts

Specializes in public health, women's health, reproductive health.

I'm in my third year of nursing now and I'm just getting to where I like being a nurse. My first year was rough and, over and over again, I questioned my decision to enter this profession. Reality shock hit me like a ton of bricks. However, I soon figured out that I was in the wrong specialty, doing the wrong type of nursing for me. Once I moved away from hospital floor nursing my world got a lot brighter. So even if you don't like one type of nursing, you may like another. That's the great thing about nursing.


3,413 Posts

Has 38 years experience.

It is wise to have questions, jitters, second thoughts, starting any life changing event, from marriage to a career. Yes nursing is hard, yes the first year working a busy med/surg unit is hard, big learning curve!

However there is a lot of job security. Nursing can't be outsourced, and I have little imagination but I can't see robots replacing bedside nurses? The pay (I think) is good. There are 100's of different types, areas, of nursing. If you start out on a busy med/surg unit working nights and don't like it it is on you if you don't start seeking other units, floors, types of nursing you can do.

I really don't understand what purpose the professors have for making nursing sound like a terrible profession? Maybe when they start this spiel you should say thanks for your insight, I'm quitting school now!?

It is good to be realistic, but when I went to school we were told yes the first year is hard but it gets better, don't give up.


38,333 Posts

If you want to know what nursing is like, spend some time perusing the years and years worth of threads and posts on this website. There is a wealth of experience posted here even when you subtract the obvious 'less than helpful'.