Published Jul 8, 2015
If I knew then what I know now....would I still have chosen nursing? I ask my self that more often, especially after seeing my daughter graduate nursing school and embark on her own nursing career.
Is nursing the path I've chosen, or did it choose me? Was I destined to be a caregiver? Was it merely child's play when I "fixed" my babydolls, or was I foreshadowing my future? Is this a career that I would do over again knowing everything I do now?
I think I always knew it would be an emotionally charged career, but, wow!, for this degree of pain, I was not prepared. The are the times I sneak into the bathroom to sob because I feel so overwhelmed, the mornings walking up to the hospital that I can't catch my breathe because I know today is the day we are discussing the test results with a family. I've made the chapel my first stop as I walk into our hospital. I ask God to bless my hands, my words, and to give me the strength to be everything everyone expects me to be.
I also did not realize the physical toll it would take on me. I have come home after 12 hour shifts with my feet swollen, throbbing, and exhausted to the point of feeling delirious. I have been to a masseuse, an acupuncturist, and my family doctor because of my aching back, sore muscles and headaches for the stress that I carry in my neck.
I have seen my hospital grow from a small community hospital to one that is world renowned. We challenge nurses with more and more difficult cases, and our expectations are for excellence. I am happy to be a part of a team that is excellent, and a hospital system that encourages nurses to grow professionally and holds bedside nurses in high regard. But this growth has not come with challenges. It can be exhausting.
I have been unable to find the appropriate words at times when others ask "how can you do that?" To be perfectly honest, sometimes I don't know how I do it. But, I do. I learned to find the joy in the littlest of things. An IV on stick on the first try, a happy doctor, a family bringing in fresh coffee, and to being able to sit down to have a proper lunch break. I've taken up yoga and meditation, and try to really enjoy my time off the clock. My family and friends all play a role in making me a more capable nurse. But to be perfectly honest, there are days I want to sit on my couch all day long in my pajamas, emotionally and physically drained!
It's because I know what lurks around the corner-that next admission, that next phone call; devastating news, another sick child, the patient down the hall with the family that has more questions than you have answers. And the never ending look of fear I see in parents eyes, the feeling that hope is lost, asking that question, "why God, why?"
And then there are those glorious days, where it seems like the stars are all aligned: no evidence of disease, a last chemo party, laughing because of something so silly, a former patient coming back to say hi & thank you, and yes, a proper lunch break.
So, if I must answer my own question, I would do it over again. Maybe I didn't have a choice, maybe the universe chose nursing for me. I don't know if it was the baby dolls or another lifetime, but it's in me. Nursing is a part of everything I do; the constant critical thinking, the concern, the ability to switch my emotions off, the praying for families. And I tell this to my daughter now when she calls; crying, frustrated and sad, after a difficult shift. I tell her she's going to see things that people shouldn't have to...not the blood and guts that most people think of, but raw emotions that come with nursing. It's a cruel cruel world, nursing is, but it is rewarding in ways most people will never begin to understand.
NurseGirl525, ASN, RN
I don't know necessarily if nursing is a "calling" or "dream" as many of the people on here put it. I think for me nursing fits my personality and who I am. I have always been the one taking care of other people even as a kid. I was a student athletic trainer from the time I was a 7th grader. I loved taking care of the athletes. I'm not in any way athletic but I love sports. I liked watching them go from these injuries that took them out of play for how ever long and watching them get back on the field or court and play again. I liked knowing that in some small way I contributed to that.
I have always been fascinated with medicine. As a little girl, I can remember visiting my grandparents house and look through her medical dictionary. I would read it and anything I thought was interesting I would go and look up in their set of encyclopedias (I know I am dating myself here). As I became an adult and faced some serious medical conditions of my own, I researched everything. Every, little thing I could find on my subject. I educated myself. I absolutely love to learn.
Unfortunately after starting my prereqs in my early twenties, I got married to a man who did not believe I needed an education to be successful. So I quit school and started my life with him, putting away my thoughts of a career I truly wanted. I spent many years unhappy in jobs which spilled over into my life outside of work. When I ended up pregnant with my son, I quit my retail job to stay home with my son. My husband wanted his wife to be at home and take care of our child and him. I did so, but never to his satisfaction. When my son started school full time in kindergarten, I found myself home all day by myself. I did not like it. I am a big extrovert. I need that personal interaction. My husband never even talked to me when he was home so I was very lonely. I expressed my interest to go back to school and finish my degree to be a nurse. That was out of the question he said. I did not need a job or to be out of the house. He controlled our money so I had no idea what to do.
Two years later, I found my voice. I could no longer live the life I was living. I was ready. I knew wanting a career again would end my marriage, but it's what I wanted and I still new I wanted to go into nursing. I did not want to sit at a desk or in a cubicle all day. I already did that and hated it. I did not want to go back to retail. I honestly hated dealing with rude and hateful people yelling at me about the most ridiculous and unimportant things in life. Plus, dealing with angry bosses when you didn't beat last year's sales for that day or written up for one click over on overtime. The list was endless for me not going back to retail. Medicine is where I wanted to be. I researched it all for about 6 months beforehand and I new that nursing was a good fit for me. I signed up for school Monday and filed for divorce on Wednesday. It was the craziest thing I had ever done in my life!!!! My new life was coming together. Ironically, my now ex-husband has to pay for my schooling. He never wanted me to go or pay for it, but he is anyway. In my state it's the only bit of alimony they allow, for the mother to finish her education if she quit when she got married.
I flew through my prereqs and started the program last fall. I graduate next May. I absolutely love it. Yes, the patients and their families can be grouchy. My extensive customer service background has helped me in how to deal with those kind of situations. I know for many, they are scared and the only way they know how to deal with it is to project anger onto someone else. I have been told by many who have seen me in the clinical setting that I am a natural at this. I'm still deciding what specialty I want to be in. I probably won't make that decision until after school. I will be getting much more clinical experience in other areas. I'm very much looking forward to it.
In the end though, being a nurse will be just a job to me. It will not consume my life. I learned long ago that a person needs to separate their work from home life. It is hard to do, especially if you don't enjoy your job. If you hate your job, your anger and frustration can spill over into your home life. That can strain relationships. I've seen relationships fall apart over it. A person is miserable at their job, then they are miserable at home because they dread having to go back there almost every day. Off days are spent obsessing over how much they hate their job. No one wants to be around a miserable person so the relationship ultimately fails. I'm not just talking about love relationships. It can be friends and family too.
I'm a person who lives my life with no regrets. I have learned something out of every mistake I have made. Although I wish I had started my journey when I was younger, I'm happy that I am where I am right now in life. I have a wonderful support system around me and I am excited to graduate and passing NCLEX and starting to work again. I was glad to see you would still do it all over again. I think with anything in life, not every day is going to be perfect. Some days will be better than others. You sound like a wonderful nurse. I think your daughter will make a great nurse with you as her role model.
I don't know if this makes a difference, but as a succesful patient I have been inspired by nurses. So much so that I am aspiring to become one despite the ups and downs, and brutal amount of work that must come with the territory. I take the TEASE test this fall, and finish my last prereq then I apply for the RN program, crossing my fingers! I just want nurses to know their efforts are appreciated. My two cents probably doesnt matter since I am still aspiring, but I just thought I would share. Since the positive impact on others is what I am craving for. Especially since I probably wouldn't be here to say this if not for the NP, RNs, and doctors who diagnosed, and treated me. I am going to make the time to let them all know what a profound impact they have had on me! I am far from perfect, but I am hoping to make myself the best person I can be with no regrets.
I mean TEAS test.... See this is why I worry about myself.....
For me, the only thing i can think of was that when it came time to choose a new life (part two) there was not much of a transition for me in changing from education as a high school teacher to that of an RN.
Both jobs contain more similarities than differences, my opinion; teaching is caring and educating and so is nursing. Yes, i would do it all over again, now that i am in part three of my life, ie retirement, i am 57, but still a consultant, both in education and nursing and it is alot of fun and rewarding. The best reward is coming in contact with former patients and students and seeing their success in life and having them recognize me and realizing that a tiny part of their success might have been me:)
RedInScrubs, ASN, RN
I know for me, nursing was a calling, though it was one that I attempted to ignore for the longest time.
When I was about four, my sister slammed her finger in the bathroom door, and severed the tip off. She had to have it sewn back on, and came home that night with a giant bandage. First thing I wanted to do? Stick it under the water, because it had to be clean, and cleaning it would make it better. (Thankfully, the sutures weren't harmed, because I thought my mother would have a heart attack.)
When I was six, I remember falling off a swing and getting a horrible gravel burn to my knee. Literally, bleeding all over, gravel needing to be pulled out piece by piece. What did I do? Headed to my mother's glove compartment, pulled out her little sandwich bag filled with alcohol wipes and bandages, and cleaned it up myself. No tears, just knowing that I had to get it clean, and that was that.
At around eight, my best friend fell and cut her arm open. Nothing that serious, but she was totally in tears, completely upset. I talked her into heading inside and getting some hydrogen peroxide, because "It bubbles, and trust me it's really cool!"
In college, I was the one getting people off the toilet after they'd been drinking, bringing them water and bread to help in the bathroom while they tried to stop heaving.
Amusingly enough, though, I was pretty set on not being a nurse. My mother was a nurse, my godmother was a nurse, and my great-grandmother was a nurse. My grandfather was also the chaplain at the local hospital where my mother worked and I practically grew up. I was very set that I wanted to be a music teacher, so that's what I started out doing.
Several years later, I realized that music wasn't my calling. Spent time muddling in college, finally got my CNA license, because hey, I was REALLY tired of working in jobs without reliable hours and/or pay. I ended up falling in love with the work I did at a nursing home, and had a wonderful patient who used to sit up all night when we went to turn him every two hours, asking me about my goals, dreams, and life. He was the one who convinced me to give getting my RN a shot, so I went back to school. Ended up getting pregnant by surprise, which I knew would put things off by a year, but by then, I knew it was only a matter of time to get back and finish my degree.
One I started school, I realized that that work was what I was meant to do all along. It's only been reinforced since I graduated and have been working. I struggled a bit with really embracing it, because my mother was a nurse, and had struggled with codependency and other personality aspects that I knew made her a great nurse, but also made her personal life very difficult, and I had many of those traits. Once I learned some balance, and took the good aspects but also kept a balance with the ones that can easily overwhelm my personal life, though..
It's been a great journey since then, and as hard as it is, physically, mentally, emotionally, and everything in between, I'd do it all again. It really is a career that is not simply something I do; it's something I am, have always been, and most days I feel just plain lucky enough to get paid for it.
You will be ok. You will learn to check everything three times.
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