Am I Too Squeamish to be a Nurse?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I'm actually only a sophomore in High school. I've wanted to be a nurse since I was little, but recently I've been second guessing it. I'm scared that I can't perform all the "dirty work" like pooping, vomiting, blood, wounds, diaper changing. My question is, can you out grow that? Can a somewhat squeamish person survive nursing school? Thanks so much!!

    Dear Squeamish,

    That's such a good question. Some people assume that nurses and doctors aren't affected by bodily fluids, sights and smells...but we are.

    Almost every nurse I know has an "Achille's heel"- for me, it's sputum. But no patient would ever know that it makes me queasy to look at their sputum specimen sitting in a cup waiting for me to label and send to the Lab. Why?

    It's not that I've outgrown my aversion- I've learned to manage it.

    When needed, I mentally switch to professional nurse-think. It's as if I'm instantly this non-reactive professional person who doesn't flinch at anything. My desire to maintain my patient's dignity and prevent them from ever feeling embarrassed overrides everything else. We nurses applaud post-op patients who pass gas and have productive coughs.

    If this is the only concern holding you back...don't worry. Nursing is so much more than bodily fluids and functions. Get good grades and keep us posted.

    Best wishes,
    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,442; Likes: 4,314


  3. by   Oldmahubbard
    I heartily agree. My desire to help patients and promote their dignity is greater than my squeamishness, any day of the week.

    Best of luck
  4. by   marienm, RN, CCRN
    I'll add that the gross stuff is better when it's in your workplace (and not, say, your house!) If a patient has an accident in bed, the mattress is waterproof and I just clean them up and get them comfortable. If that happened at home on a regular mattress, I'd probably throw it away!
  5. by   Kallie3006
    I agree, everyone has their kryptonite, but push to shove you will do the best for your patient. There will be more times than not that you will not even think twice about it
  6. by   Froggybelly
    Not all nurses deal with bodily fluids, and certainly not to the degree you may be imagining. There are plenty of drier specialities you may like!
  7. by   Roz, RN
    I've been a nurse for a looooong time. I have never been able to deal with vomit. The best I can do is to close my eyes, hold my breath, and think happy thoughts! If you feel like you are being lead to nursing, you will do fine.