Does nursing really suck that badly?

  1. I know this discussion has likely been hashed and re-hashed several times. However, I wanted to discuss not only my concerns but my specific situation.

    Here is some background information on me:
    I recently graduated with a non-nursing bachelors degree. For the past two years, I have had my heart set on entering an ABSN program. But, I wanted to finish my bachelors first as I felt since I was almost done, I could apply for a one year accelerated program and essentially not "waste" my almost completed degree. I am taking A&P2 and Nutrition this semester and Chemistry and Microbiology in the fall with hopes of applying for two ABSN programs in my area.

    Here are my concerns:
    I read so many negative things on here about nursing. Whether it is someone complaining about their boss, a high patient to nurse ratio, backstabbing co-workers, patients who treat you like a slave, managment that doesn't get it, concerns about losing nursing license, etc etc. I understand that NO job will ever be perfect. I understand that people come here to vent. I am not judging the nurses who complain on here because everyone needs an outlet to release stress.

    My fear is that I will get into a career that I hate. My fear is that I will be chewed up and spit out. I am already at a cynical point in life where I see employers in general as crapping all over good employees and rewarding the bad ones. I am at a point where I am so tired of my government internship that I will do ANYTHING to get away from it. I love the idea of helping people. I love science. I've thus far enjoyed the academic pursuit of nursing. Additionally, I consider myself to be a compassionate, loving person. I can take a lot of things in stride but I have my limits. Is entering the nursing field really that scary? Are hospitals really that toxic? Are co-workers really a reincarnation of that evil witch and her possee from junior high?

    I could really use some advice from some of you RNs who are already "there" and have been in the trenches.


    Someone who wants to help others and wants to be a nurse but is terrified of the future
  2. Visit Irish_Mist profile page

    About Irish_Mist, BSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '13; Posts: 480; Likes: 1,283
    Registered Nurse; from TX , US
    Specialty: Cardicac Neuro Telemetry


  3. by   Flare
    I think that like most things, nursing is what you make of it. Yes, some hospitals have floors with terrible ratios and terrible management. Yes, there are some nurses that can be brutal to work with, but this also happens in corporate America. Are there days that every single person hates their job? Sure - but even the taste tester at the Haagen Das factory has days when they have a bad day at work. (That would be my dream job btw if anyone has any connections )
    But no one say that you have to stay in a toxic work environment. One of the benefit of nursing school in my humble opinion was the clinicals at local hospital and the chance to see first hand what type of work environments were out there so when the time came to apply for jobs I could have a better idea of where I wanted to apply... granted I graduated during the height of the nursing shortage and was able to pick and choose, but I think you get my point.
  4. by   HouTx
    Quote from Irish_Mist
    . . . . I am taking A&P2 and Nutrition this semester and Chemistry and Microbiology in the fall with hopes of applying for two ABSN programs in my area.

    . . . I love the idea of helping people. I love science. I've thus far enjoyed the academic pursuit of nursing. Additionally, I consider myself to be a compassionate, loving person. I can take a lot of things in stride but I have my limits. Is entering the nursing field really that scary? Are hospitals really that toxic? Are co-workers really a reincarnation of that evil witch and her possee from junior high?
    Hmm - where to begin?

    First of all, I can't think of very many people who don't also believe that they are also compassionate, loving and want to help people. This is probably the most common (idealized) impression of nursing. However, anyone who moves into a nursing career without a more realistic and accurate understanding of nursing practice will surely be very disillusioned.. and probably very bitter and unhappy for wasting all that time and effort.

    Your comments reflect extreme generalization. "Hospitals" are places of business - as such, they cannot have a personality. "Co-workers" would include > 2 million nurses in the US. Do you really believe that we could all be "evil"? Get serious and stop the hyperbole.

    My advice? Get to know some practicing nurses and find out what they do. If the work is not a good fit with your goals, there are a lot of other health care careers that are much less intense but still would provide you an outlet for 'wanting to help people'.

    Best of luck to you, no matter what you decide.
  5. by   Irish_Mist
    No, of course I do not think all nurses could be evil. That would be ludicrous of me to think so. I do know some RNs and have asked them lots of questions. In fact, I'll be shadowing my mother's RN friend who works in women's health.

    Perhaps I should have been more clear in my post. I wanted to hear from people's personal experience. I mean, there has to be a reason why I hear the things I hear and read the things I read. I see all of these horror stories on here. Sure, I see a lot of good things too. Is this just the tendency of people to talk more about the bad than they do the good?

    It saddens me that you see my words as an idealized impression of nursing. It saddens me that "wanting to help people" automatically seems to denote that people like me just don't get it. Believe me, I totally get that it takes a lot more to be a nurse than to just have compassion. Problem is, I want to "get more than what I currently get". I do not work in healthcare and I haven't in the past.

    Please do not take my words as being defensive or ugly. I am merely trying to get some answers here but at the same time do not want to be misunderstood.
  6. by   Irish_Mist
    Thank you, Flare. Your post is realistic, honest and... Exactly what I was looking for. I suppose I am in a big funk. Thank you for your realistic, honest advice.
  7. by   nichefinder
    To present my humble opinion, I think that nursing schools make you believe that as a nurse, you are going to be very focused into science, autonomy.... well that was a bull's dung. Throw autonomy out the window, and the profession is not science focused, but 100% task oriented, because all we do is carry out orders. Draw labs, medicate, npo for procedures, get consent, admit, discharge, chart, chart, chart, task after tasks. I don't believe I have seen "science" or autonomy in my profession.

    To be frank, I am not one of those people who came into nursing just to help others; I mean sure, everyone SAYS they want to help others, and who doesn't? I do too myself, but who wants to associate their work life surrounded by bunch of complaining, whiny, negative patients and some coworkers who make you want to assess their brain function? I haven't found my niche yet, but I truly do hate my job, and with current healthcare policies, future seems bleak.

    Unless you can really really be sure of yourself that you are dedicated to helping life of others like Albert Schweitzer, Nightingale, or someone who really feels happiness of life by helping others (and not that typical "oh ya, I became nurse to help others" that everyone says) then yes nursing is for you. But if your compassion level is like that of a regular human being (that would be me), and you want to help others, but also in it for financial security, let me tell you there are many other jobs you can get that are much easier than nursing and make equal or even better money. I just learned today dental hygienist starts at about $31/hr. If I could go back in time, I 100% would have chosen different career, something like CPA or lawyer, or work in some kind of corporation. Please think well before you choose nursing because if you hate your job, life certainly is miserable.
  8. by   ICURN, Mom
    I graduated as an RN Sept. 2012. You have to remember with any job there are things to complain about and not like. In nursing, there are so many different areas that you can work in. If there is an area you don't like then you can look in another area. You can also specialize in an area of your interest or travel. I have worked 2 different jobs as a nurse so far. First was a nursing home. It was not for me. (no breaks, long hours, demanding, short-staffed, memory care area, not enough supplies...) I did enjoy my coworkers and most of my patients. Who knows I may like it later in my career. I now work at an urgent care and I like it.
    I think that we like to vent to others in our field and here is a great place to do it. Sometimes we forget to mention the good with the bad. Overall I personally love being an RN. There are certain situations that I wish wouldn't occur, but to me the good far out weighs the bad.
    Use your best judgement. If your heart tells you to do it then try it. Never hurts to try and then you won't look back and say 'what if'. Also, research the many possiblities in nursing. (teaching, mentor, admin, floor, inhome, hosp, labs, dr office, imaging, research...)
    Good luck!
  9. by   llg
    I strongly agree with the posts above. Nursing is a career that includes some very high stress situations: people's lives are at stake ... people are emotional about the health they receive ... the health field is highly regulated ... there are lots of expensive law suits possible ... and a lot of money is involved. That's a definite recipe for stress.

    It all comes down to whether or not nursing is the type of work you want to do -- and whether or not you want to do that work badly enough to tolerate the negative aspects of the career. Also, can you be flexible enough with your job selection (location, specialty, work schedule, etc.) to switch jobs if the first one or two that you try don't work out for you? Are you psychologically strong enough to "stick it out" for a while if it takes a few years for you to find the "best fit for you" within the large nursing field?

    Only you can answer those questions for yourself. For the people who really want to do nursing work, nursing can be a good career -- but if you think you want to be a nurse just because you want to "help people," and/or you don't like your current job and are looking for an escape route, you should probably take a step back and survey a large range of fields before you invest a lot into a nursing career. There are lots of careers in which you can help people that involve less "cra*" of all kinds.

    I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide.
  10. by   Irish_Mist
    I should have made the disclaimer that there are far, far more reasons I want to be an RN. For one thing, the pay is a big perk. Second, there are so many areas to choose from. Third, well.... I guess you get the idea.

    Haha about assessing their brain function.
  11. by   Irish_Mist
    Thank you, llg. I appreciate your sound advice. Is it really that bad that I want to be a nurse to help people in addition to earning a nice living? I'm not Mother Teresa by any means but nursing has been all I've wanted to do for quite some time. I think I am trying to decide if what I *want* is the best thing to pursue. Other posters have pointed out that there are other ways to "help people". But truthfully, I've never been interested in any of the other career paths.
  12. by   kabfighter
    I'm probably going to get grilled for this, but nichefinder is right. We are highly-paid blue collar workers. I work med-surg, and I probably could have done this job right out of high school with six months of on-the-job training and two semesters of A&P. Other nurses ask about lab values during report, and unless it's a troponin level or the lab value is being treated with medication, I generally don't know. Lab values are for the provider to interpret and treat, and frankly if a patient asks about them I can honestly say "I don't know." This is not to say that I don't understand the implications of abnormal lab values; they just have no bearing on how I will carry out my duties. My job is to keep my patients alive and comfortable from 23:00 to 07:00, not to obsess over labs and diagnostic imaging results that have already been interpreted by one or more physicians.

    All this being said, I am a proponent of the BSN as the entry level education for registered nurses, and some sort of associate's degree for practical nurses (whether it be an AS or AAS). The occupation of nursing has come a long way, but to truly be a profession we need to raise the bar for entry, as many others have done. I always get a kick from people who fail out of nursing school, then say that they plan on becoming pharmacists, physician assistants, or physical/occupational therapists. They're in for a hell of a ride when they have to take organic chemistry, which was far harder than even the most advanced nursing classes I had to take. Let alone the fact that those all require rigorous professional or graduate degrees.

    To make a long story short: become a respiratory therapist. That, or look outside of health care for a career.
  13. by   BSNbeauty
    Nursing is definitely what you make it. I've worked in different specialities and settings and some are more stressful than others. I've found that areas of nursing that are less stressful tend to have happier and better co-workers and vice a versa. If you are really passionate about nursing then I say go for it. You have to find out for yourself. If what you read and hear have the ability to influence your decision on becoming a nurser than nursing is not for you. Nursing is not for the faint or weak.
  14. by   Been there,done that
    No, it sucks harder. Bedside for 25 years... it got worse every year.
    Sorry I did it!