Published Mar 11, 2004
Have you ever wondered if this is true? As nurses, we give more than 180% everyday. This translates to not getting lunch, sometimes only being able to visit the restroom once in an 8-hour day as well as denying yourself the human need to have a moment to gather yourself. I know for me, I don't just leisurely go about my job. When I get to the hospital, I find that I am running from the moment that I walk in the door to the moment that I leave. I find myself getting ready to have a panic attack toward the end of my shift if I know I am getting close to ending my shift and I still have 3 more hours of work to do in only 1 hour and the admissions still keep coming.
I never see anyone at Wal-Mart working as hard as we do. I certainly know they don't work that hard at the phone company or the grocery store .... but as nurses, we are run to death.
My kids are funny .... they have often asked me if all jobs are like mine and that when they grow up and start working, if they will always be late getting home or will be called every time they have a day off to come into work. I explained to them that if they get a good education, they too could have all the fun that I have. :)
But, despite all the craziness of being a nurse, you know I love every minute of it. Despite the stress and the zany way things get done, I know I am making a difference.
Anyone else feel this way or have 20+ years of nursing fried by brain? :)
Tweety, BSN, RN
Yep, I know the feelings you're having well. Still hit the road running, don't know any other way to do it. But I've learned to relax. I eat, go the restroom and definately don't have panic attacks when overwhelmed.
Don't think though the Walmart cashier with 50 impatient people in her/his line at the customer service counter isn't under stress and working hard. When I worked for Pizza Hut while in nursing school, I worked my poor tail right off. Of course they don't have other peoples lifes in their hands.
Anyway, I've never been the type to not give my 100%, don't know any other way to be. But I can't give 180% every single day, I'd burn out. :)
RNPATL, DNP, RN
I agree Tweety .... I do give 100% or more everyday .... but beyond that and I would have not lasted in nursing as long as I have. That is for sure. :)
I know what you mean. I quit nursing for about 6 months early in my career. I went to work 11p-7a in a convenience store. The most stressful part of my job was cutting onions for the next days hotdogs. I mopped the floor ever night, restocked, and chatted with the local law enforcement. Nurses are hard on each other too, you wouldn't believe all the rumors that went around about why I was working there. It wasn't "she is burnt out and needs a break" it was "I wonder what she did to lose her license". I believe everyone if they can do it should take a break when the going gets tough. Don't get me wrong, I love nursing and feel that I am good at it, however, a break is nice and I would still be at that convenience store if I could have supported my family at that job. Donna
zacarias, ASN, RN
I agree. We nurses work so hard and I think we're wired to do that. At my hospital, the patients, doctors, and families keep you busy all day. Not to mention the unexpectables (a new word?) that happen when you least want or need them.
I don't know what the solution is. I've actually learned to feel proud of myself at the end of the day thinking of all the many things that I did that day and I learned etc. I do know I don't want to do hospital nursing forever but I'm OK doin' it now!
I don't think this description is solely of nurses. I had a whole other life before I became a nurse that was just as hectic and it was in business, lots of pressures, time deadlines, productivity expectations, etc. I'm not saying we don't work hard, I'm just saying that we have this tendancy to hold ourselves out as very special. Well we are, by virtue of the human lives that depend on us but still, there are those who are lazy among us as well and we all know at least a few of them.
I think it starts in nursing school where we are hounded that we are different from everyone else, only the best, brightest, and strongest will survive, hence the hell that is nursing school (similar to medical school). It starts as a stressor there and it just keeps going. For the most part, nursing draws a certain "type" of person. Most times we are over-achievers, detail oriented, with very very high standards and goals. While we are many times very flexible and accomplished, we are also very hard on ourselves and the product we produce, which is care. Add to that the "we must always be smiling and chipper" undercurrent of the expectations that others place on us (and that we also place on ourselves) and you have what you described.
Heck, my husband is a industrial equipment mechanic with lots of accounts, fixes equipment instead of people, and to hear him talk his job is lots worse than mine. He's always got someone unhappy about something and works much longer hours than I do, plus comes home dirty as a pig every night. It's all relative.
RNPATL, I know exactly what you mean. The medical field, especially nursing, really does present it's own unique stressors, unlike those found in any other profession. There are lots of other high stress jobs out there, but for the most part, the average worker going to his/her 9-5 job has no clue what nurses go through. And don't even try and explain it, unless you've experienced it or actually do it, it's impossible!
That's what's great about having this board....we can vent, discuss situations unique to our field, get advice from others who know what we're going through!
And, yes, there are lazy nurses who always seem to be sitting, or disappear whenever help is needed, etc., but for those of us who actually care about our jobs, patients, and the care we give, it is quite another thing altogether!
Just my thoughts...another nurse who gives 110%....
I think that the difference in jobs can be attributed to the fact that with nursing you get physical fatigue as well as emotional fatigue. There is a big difference between the two. Nurses also have to swallow a lot of bad, angry feelings while always having a smile. Just my two cents.
I've worked in other industries, too and I've had the pressures and stresses of deadlines, difficult bosses and co-workers, and *the bottom line.*
But never had I ever literally held someone else's life in my hands. And nurses do every single day. Miss a critical lab result, read the wrong order, hang the wrong fluid...simple acts can have a profound effect. Add that to the above stressors, and yes, nurses and other healthcare providers do have added pressures.
I agree with much of what's been said here. From 1500 to 1900 or so, the first half of my shift, I am running full-tilt-boogie to keep up with it all. I've been working 3-11 med-surg for close to 10 years now, and the only way I can continue to give 110% is to work part-time. I almost never pick up extra time and often spend part of a day off recuperating, emotionally more than physically, after working two evenings in a row.
orrnlori described me and other nurses I work with very well:
'For the most part, nursing draws a certain "type" of person. Most times we are over-achievers, detail oriented, with very very high standards and goals. While we are many times very flexible and accomplished, we are also very hard on ourselves and the product we produce, which is care. Add to that the "we must always be smiling and chipper" undercurrent of the expectations that others place on us (and that we also place on ourselves) and you have what you described."
Because of the way I'm "wired", every shift is a challenge to rise above my worries, need to please, and perfectionistic tendencies, and to not become overwhelmed by or resentful of the increasing demands and hectic pace I deal with so frequently. I sincerely appreciate that I can try to make a difference in my patients' hospital stay by the care I give, but it gets more and more difficult to give that 110% day after day. I think that's why so many nurses take anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants, because it's hard to give less than our best. It's also why so many leave bedside nursing...
I really love how you put that! You are so right. We have to smile and be friendly despite the fact that the patient's wife is totally unrealistic and is a royal pain in the a**. I had that situation today. I just kept smiling and being as nice as I could be. I would go to the med room and blow and then I was ok again. :)
RNPATL, I know exactly what you mean. The medical field, especially nursing, really does present it's own unique stressors, unlike those found in any other profession. There are lots of other high stress jobs out there, but for the most part, the average worker going to his/her 9-5 job has no clue what nurses go through. And don't even try and explain it, unless you've experienced it or actually do it, it's impossible!That's what's great about having this board....we can vent, discuss situations unique to our field, get advice from others who know what we're going through!And, yes, there are lazy nurses who always seem to be sitting, or disappear whenever help is needed, etc., but for those of us who actually care about our jobs, patients, and the care we give, it is quite another thing altogether!Just my thoughts...another nurse who gives 110%....
You are so right. I guess the original intent of this thread was to see if other nurses recognized that we put forth so much in a single day. When you finish your shift, it is really an accomplishment. I mean, there are very few other jobs that have the volume of work that must be managed in a single 8 or 12 hour period. As I said before, I am not sure that I see other people in other professions working as hard as we do. This is also true in the hospital. The dietition does not seem as stressed, niether to the therapists or even the physicians. Of course, I guess an open heart surgeon would take issue with these statements as I am sure he or she might be slightly more stressed than us. But at least he/she has the time to do his/her work thoroughly (thank goodness ). Anyway ... thanks for your thoughts.
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