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Is nursing REALLY that difficult?

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I'm in my final year of high school now, and I know that I really want to be a nurse when I finish school. It's the perfect job for me: I'm fascinated by the human body, I LOVE to be able to care and nurture for others, I love the adrenaline rush that comes with the job (I'd love to work in ER), and I love knowing that I'm making a meaningful contributing back to the world. The idea of working 3-12 hour shifts a week is also really appealing, getting 4 days off. But when I research to see what nurses think of their own profession, a lot of the articles are really whiney, and they just complain how stressful the job is, how long the shifts are, how they always go overtime, how they have sleep deprivation etc. It's rare for me to actually come across articles written by nurses who highlights the good aspects of the job and how much he or she loves being a nurse. I know that it will be difficult, I know that the shifts will be long - I'm expecting all of this. But is it REALLY that bad? Is it doable? Can I be a nurse and still live a balanced, happy life? Do nurses really hate their jobs that much?

You've just opened a huge can of worms. Nursing is changing a lot , even from where things were with the profession since I started my RN career 12 years ago. I enjoy being a nurse and I think that it gives you a whole new outlook on your fellow human beings. Many people enter the profession thinking that every pt will be grateful for care, co-operative and that every shift will end with a sense of having really done some good in the world, and are quickly disillusioned. Nurses encounter people who are often at their worst- in pain/frightened/angry/ feeling out of control...and that's the pts, not to get into dealing with family dynamics that pop up. As there are many other threads here that get into that, I'll leave that alone. As far as 3-12's- that in theory does sound good, and can be good if you work days, but 3 "12" hour shifts is no picnic. And when I worked days, I would often be so exhausted at the end of it, that when I went home, all I wanted was a meal, a shower and perhaps a brief conversation with my family before going to bed to get up and do it again the next day. After that third day, a good chunk of the first day off was spent just trying to recover from working. If you work nights, you can't plan on doing too much before going to work that night, and then after the third shift, you either choose to be sleep deprived so you can flip back to a 'normal' schedule, or decide to basically live on a night shift schedule. I'm pretty sure other folks here are going to blast you for using the word 'whiney' , so I'll try to explain what the nurses in those articles are referring to. Short staffing/ not enough supplies/ having a pt load with a really high acuity level/ doctors who won't listen when nurses are trying to tell them something's wrong with a patient/ co- workers with attitude issues/ working on units that have so much turnover that the 'senior' nurse has been there three years/ administrators who care nothing about employees... and that's just the tip of the iceburg. You would be amazed at how quickly a '12' hour shift can turn into a 14 hour shift due to the documentation that has to be done..... and then how quickly supervisors can be to tell nurses that they should not be getting into overtime/ consistently staying late. Having said all that, you can be a nurse and live a happy life- but it will take you some time to find that balance and to be able to leave work at work.

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

Nursing has the potential to be very fulfilling, and there are jobs that can strike a good work-life balance. But, I am still amazed by the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that comes with the job, even after good shifts. So, in sum, yes, it is that difficult.

I'm in my final year of high school now, and I know that I really want to be a nurse when I finish school. It's the perfect job for me: I'm fascinated by the human body, I LOVE to be able to care and nurture for others, I love the adrenaline rush that comes with the job (I'd love to work in ER), and I love knowing that I'm making a meaningful contributing back to the world. The idea of working 3-12 hour shifts a week is also really appealing, getting 4 days off. But when I research to see what nurses think of their own profession, a lot of the articles are really whiney, and they just complain how stressful the job is, how long the shifts are, how they always go overtime, how they have sleep deprivation etc. It's rare for me to actually come across articles written by nurses who highlights the good aspects of the job and how much he or she loves being a nurse. I know that it will be difficult, I know that the shifts will be long - I'm expecting all of this. But is it REALLY that bad? Is it doable? Can I be a nurse and still live a balanced, happy life? Do nurses really hate their jobs that much?

I would say "it depends".

Personally, I am still very happy and satisfied with working as a nurse but I left the traditional bedside nursing job years ago because bedside nursing in major teaching hospitals and community hospitals has become very difficult plus I am not getting younger. I have been a nurse for 20 +years and worked in critical care, telemetry med/surg, acute dialysis and now palliative care.

Nursing is changing - it is challenging. My life has been very good and nursing enabled me to make money with flexible schedules when my children were little, I was never out of work. I made great friends with other nurses when I was in my 20s and enjoyed my life before kids as well.

I think the most important thing is to develop some resilience and to be aware that "everything is always interconnecting" in nursing - a lot of time the journey becomes the goal... plus you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable - which is where resiliency comes in.

So - yes, I am still happy with being a nurse but nursing itself is not an easy profession because of everything connected to it and around it.

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Of course you can live a balanced, happy life, and because of "just" working three days a week, you will have a lot more time off than most people. There are also excellent benefits - my company starts people at 208 hours paid time off per year, which at 3 12s in one week, is almost six weeks of paid leave. You'd be hard pressed to find another entry level position that gives you that much paid vacation. Not to mention if you self-schedule, you would work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, giving yourself eight days off without using any vacation time at all.

However, I feel like hospital benefits are so good just because the job *IS* so terrible. I don't think anyone would work as a bedside nurse in the hospital if you had to be there Monday through Friday, 9-5 - it it literally not doable to be there that often, just for our base pay. I worked four non-nursing, non-healthcare jobs before I went into nursing, and the difference in the stress level I have now compared to the stress I had then is incalculable. I didn't know it was possible to be this stressed out all of the time.

So, I'm not discouraging you - the benefits of being a nurse, as far as your life outside of work goes, are fabulous. But you pay for those benefits in blood.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Well, a bit of life advice to start with....if you want help from someone, don't start out with an insult. "Whiny" isn't a nice word, particularly since you have nothing to compare their opinions to in the realm of real life experience.

Yes, nursing is hard. It is dirty, smelly, biologically hazardous, litigious and often thankless work. 12 hour shifts are more realistically 13-15 hour shifts when all is said and done. Of the four days off per week, one to two of those are spent just recuperating from the three that were work days. The buck stops with the nurse. When something goes wrong, guess who is ultimately responsible?

That being said, there are many pathways available in nursing and doing acute care or long-term care are not the only career options. If it is in your blood, its in your blood. I can't imagine being anything else. It is part of my identity.

All jobs are hard in one way or another and suck your soul dry in one way or another. I personally LIKE that the kind of hard that nursing is ties into making the world a better place and strives to improve lives and/or provide a "good" death. The feeling that what I do actually matters makes the hard worth it. I can't imagine anything in a business office feeling that way.

Edited by not.done.yet

Calling the very people you would like an honest opinion from "whiny" is usually not the best tactic. But I will forgive the fact you are a young, naive, high school senior. See what I did there?

I love my job, but it's exhausting in all aspects. Mental exhaustion is just as exhausting as physical. And yes, you get 4 days off, but I normally spend that first day resting my body from the previous shifts. To me, I still spend about 5 days a week on the job just due to recovery time.

The job is not all unicorns and rainbows. You deal with hateful family and patients who, Will have your job tomorrow, according to them. You will be assaulted and belittled. You will make mistakes that leaving you feeling awful. You will constantly question, did I miss something? Did I do enough? You will see death that should have never of happened and some that needed to come sooner.

Those few thank yous and hugs I get help. When I feel that I truly helped a patient that day, maybe I just made them comfortable or I caught something to potentially save their life, I'm happy with my day. It makes it worth it.

Those adrenaline rushes of live saving or ending codes don't happen every day. And not every patient appreciates what you do to take of them.

That is the reality of nursing. It's hard, long hours, and back breaking work. I would suggest looking up the tons of threads from new grads that thought the same thing as you about nursing and then find out the reality. The most successful nurses go into the field realistically understanding what the job is about. You can then navigate the job market ups and downs much better.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Yes, it's really that bad. Whining is not the same thing as expressing issues and concerns. Be respectful to those of us in the profession.

You are romanticizing the profession. You will not have time to nurture or make a meaningful contribution, you will be worked like a mule to boost the corporate health care bottom line for profits.

Three 12 hour shifts sounds good, until you have to go back the next day with your legs and feet still aching from the previous shift.

The adrenalin rush is NOT enjoyable. You will be assisting in a life and death situation and that "rush" will make your hands shake with the endeavor.

Only YOU.. can turn it into a balanced, happy life.

SmilingBluEyes

Has 26 years experience.

"Whiny" is not a good start, to call your future colleagues that without knowing the first thing about what we do, what we cope with and how hard it is.

You would do well to shadow some nurses and see how it really is and whether it's for you.

I will give you some slack, being in high school. You are young and very short on life experiences.

But don't romanticize it; nursing is dirty, difficult, mentally-exhausting, back-breaking hard work. When you do it, you will see why "whining" is not what people are doing. They are lamenting, maybe, but for damn good reasons.

Best of luck to ya.

I'm in my final year of high school now, and I know that I really want to be a nurse when I finish school. It's the perfect job for me: I'm fascinated by the human body, I LOVE to be able to care and nurture for others, I love the adrenaline rush that comes with the job (I'd love to work in ER), and I love knowing that I'm making a meaningful contributing back to the world. The idea of working 3-12 hour shifts a week is also really appealing, getting 4 days off. But when I research to see what nurses think of their own profession, a lot of the articles are really whiney, and they just complain how stressful the job is, how long the shifts are, how they always go overtime, how they have sleep deprivation etc. It's rare for me to actually come across articles written by nurses who highlights the good aspects of the job and how much he or she loves being a nurse. I know that it will be difficult, I know that the shifts will be long - I'm expecting all of this. But is it REALLY that bad? Is it doable? Can I be a nurse and still live a balanced, happy life? Do nurses really hate their jobs that much?

Unfortunately, those posts are reality, whether or not they seem "whiney." The fact is, nursing is stressful, shifts are long, overtime is common, and so is sleep deprivation. You are right, in that we often forget to focus on the positive aspects of our jobs. However, once you've worked a long shift after almost anything imaginable could go wrong, I think you'll relate. Also, it's usually one shift that they have hated, not their entire job or career.

At the same time, it is possible to have a balanced life. My life is not so balanced because I have two jobs. However, even I find time for the occasional date, hanging out with friends, or visiting family. It's necessary to find that time sometimes. Those I know that work only one job do manage to still manage to find a good amount of time for other things in their life.

CCU BSN RN

Specializes in CICU, Telemetry. Has 7 years experience.

No, it's not that bad. It's about a million times worse than you could possibly begin to fathom. There are days and weeks of thankless, understaffed, over-worked, crazy, balls to the walls shifts where you're just super proud you managed not to kill anyone or cry in front of anyone. You will be tested to the absolute breaking point in ways you never thought were possible. You will develop a dry, macabre sense of humor, and you'll understand why nurses complain so much, even if you vow to never do it yourself. You'll learn to understand the place the nurse was coming from when she posted something, even if you don't agree with it.

And nursing at its best? Well, that's about a million times better than you can possibly imagine. Because when that patient comes along who actually needed you, appreciated your help, thanked you, was receptive to education, the patient you actually meaningfully connect with and you make a difference in their LIFE...Well, there isn't anything quite like it. And if every patient were like these ones...well, we probably wouldn't appreciate them so much.

as my man 50 cent says:

Joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain

All these responses are just telling me how hard and stressful the profession is. Maybe I shouldn't become a nurse after all...

Zyprexa

Has 2 years experience.

Maybe shadow a few different nurses in different specialties to see what you think? Hopefully they won't be too "whiny" to you.

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

All these responses are just telling me how hard and stressful the profession is. Maybe I shouldn't become a nurse after all...

I'm actually not discouraging you. There are few things you can do that make as much money as nursing right out of the gate, and absolutely nothing with benefits this good - I'm just telling you to be prepared for the stress.

For the record, my other four jobs that were much less stressful all paid $15/hr or less. In general, the higher you go up the pay scale, the worse the stress gets... and it's awfully hard to pay student loans, a mortgage, etc. working at McDonald's or Walmart for minimum wage. I lived off of $10.50/hr for four years, and it was awful.

There's more to consider then just the difficulty and stress of a profession when you're planning out the rest of your life.

Of course you can live a balanced, happy life, and because of "just" working three days a week, you will have a lot more time off than most people. There are also excellent benefits - my company starts people at 208 hours paid time off per year, which at 3 12s in one week, is almost six weeks of paid leave. You'd be hard pressed to find another entry level position that gives you that much paid vacation. Not to mention if you self-schedule, you would work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, giving yourself eight days off without using any vacation time at all.

However, I feel like hospital benefits are so good just because the job *IS* so terrible. I don't think anyone would work as a bedside nurse in the hospital if you had to be there Monday through Friday, 9-5 - it it literally not doable to be there that often, just for our base pay. I worked four non-nursing, non-healthcare jobs before I went into nursing, and the difference in the stress level I have now compared to the stress I had then is incalculable. I didn't know it was possible to be this stressed out all of the time.

So, I'm not discouraging you - the benefits of being a nurse, as far as your life outside of work goes, are fabulous. But you pay for those benefits in blood.

Many employers do not give as much time off. One job I had only gave 20 days of paid time off per year. Out of that had to come holidays, vacation, sick leave, personal leave. Compare that to a different employer who gave us 3 weeks of vacation, 14 holidays, and about 14 days of sick time per year. Another firm I know of gave its doctors 30 days of vacation in addition to the 14 holidays. They got more sick time, too. So the highest paid workers got the most time off. That is tremendously unfair.

Yes, Nursing is very hard. No, nurses are not whiney. the trouble is that many supervisors and administrators don't care about the wellbeing of their staff. Their focus is on keeping their own jobs and coming in under budget. That means they make their staff do more work (be responsible for too many patients, work at a ridiculous pace, no time for a rest break or meal break, coming in for meetings when they shoulld be sleeping, ratting on each other, just all kinds of catty, petty evilness). Walk a mile in our shoes before you insult us. 3 12's are exhausting.

Good luck. If you enter Nursing, consider going on for an advanced practitioner role - Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Practitioner, Educator, Administrator, Midwife. Not perfect but probably better

While the rush of the ER might sound good now, are you prepared to see your patients in pain because

of all the focus on addiction these days? Doctors are afraid to order pain medicine even when it's legitimately needed. So patients suffer.

Best wishes. Just eliminate "whiney" from your vocabulary.

All these responses are just telling me how hard and stressful the profession is. Maybe I shouldn't become a nurse after all...

What other lines of work are you exploring?

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

Compare that to a different employer who gave us 3 weeks of vacation, 14 holidays, and about 14 days of sick time per year.

Fourteen holidays!??? We got like three!!

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

All these responses are just telling me how hard and stressful the profession is. Maybe I shouldn't become a nurse after all...

Well, only you can answer that. The nurse life isn't all daisys and roses and we want you to know that before you start down that path. Honestly, I think some here would recommend exploring some other health care jobs as alternatives - such as echo tech, physical or occupational therapist, speech therapist, or pharmacist. But others would say to explore nursing because it can open doors to a lot of different opportunities besides floor nursing. Its good that you are asking questions and trying to find out what the career is like before you start and educational path. I wish that I had done that more!