I have been a nurse for almost eight years now. I started as an LPN when I was 19 and just under two years ago, became a RN, which I love! But working as a RN on a busy cardiac unit can be difficult, but add in a family at home can make it even more challenging.
When I started my nursing career, I was young and single. I started a vocational program in my senior year of high school. I worked part time throughout the program. Once I completed the vocational program, I started working at a pediatric office. While working fulltime, I began working on my prerequisites towards the registered nurse program. It took me several years to complete the prerequisites due to the cost of the classes and having to work fulltime. As I was finishing up with my prerequisites, I had a son and added a couple of fur babies. Working fulltime, having a family to care for, and going to school has been a challenge, but it has been all about prioritizing, multitasking, and accepting the fact that not everything is going to get done. Add in working fulltime while completing clinicals and course work, makes for an even more stressful life. I was able to make it through my associates’ program with the help of my family and knowing that once I was done, I would be able to take a couple of semesters off prior to beginning a bachelors program.
Working as a nurse on a busy cardiac unit has its challenges. Being a nurse can be not only challenging physically, but mentally and emotionally challenging. I can have anywhere from five to six patients at the beginning of the shift, with the chance of discharges and/or admissions depending on the day and my patient load. My patients range from being independent and up moving around without assistance to being complete and total cares. The floor I work on, can also have pediatric patients, which is a challenge at times. Working in a hospital, I work 12-hour shifts, which can be exhausting, depending on the patients and how the day goes. Working in a hospital that is open 24 hours/365 days means that I am required to work nights and holidays, which is fine. I expected that going into nursing. Now add a family into the mix.
Having a young child means that I have to get up for work even earlier to make sure that I have time to get myself ready, as well as him, and then get him to daycare and get to work on time. Luckily, my husband can get the dogs fed and taken out before he leaves for work. I have gotten to the point of getting as much together the night before. I make sure to have my uniform and lunch ready to go, as well as my son’s daycare bag. I am up by 0500 every morning that I work to get myself ready and we leave by 0600. I go to work and take care of my patients, making sure that I give them the best care possible throughout my shift. I try my best to leave my home life at the door when I walk into the hospital to make sure that I am there 100% for my patients and their families. When it is finally time to leave, I pick up my son from his grandmothers and get him home and into bed. Once I get home, I start the process of making sure that everyone is ready for the next day and the dogs have gone out and been fed.
Luckily, working 12-hour shifts means that I get 4 days off! On those days off, I try to be as present as possible with my son and husband. I make the best of the days we have off since our days are so long when I have to work. Working holidays and weekends can be challenging for nurses too because we miss so many different events. We miss birthdays and parties with friends and families. It is important to remember that we are doing good and helping others get well when we miss these different events, but it makes the job that much more challenging.
Working while going to school and having a family is a challenge, but it’s all about multitasking and prioritizing. I wouldn’t change my profession for anything. The fact that I am able to help people who are in need, makes it all worthwhile, especially when I am discharging patients at their baseline, if not better than their baseline. When patients appreciate and acknowledge the care that they receive, it makes it that much better! I do not regret the path that I took to become a registered nurse because it has helped shape me into the hardworking, caring nurse that I am.