I agree with this to a point -- and I've only been on my own as a new RN for nearly 4 months.
My experience, however, is what I tried my hardest to make it out to be. I made sure I would position myself to 1) get into a hospital setting, 2) go directly into my specialty of choice (because I'm old and a 2nd career RN and I have no time for this "be an adult med/surg RN 1st and then branch out" thinking), and 3) be in a supportive environment because I know my limitations and there's no reason to be miserable working with people who add to the misery. I succeeded on all 3 points.
The business of nursing is tough regardless of what kind of paradise or hell you find yourself working in. You have to work as part of an interdisciplinary team (ahem....) and god help you if you work at a teaching hospital and you're a new RN and find yourself teaching residents who give ZERO ***** about oncology or pediatrics or both (although, it really makes the wonderful residents stand out even more -- and when they are amazing they are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and you'll fall in love and it's not fair that they leave to go on to spiffy fellowships somewhere far away). Anyway...back to the concept of working on the interdisciplinary team. You will find yourself at the center of this team and catching all the dropped balls. You will wonder to yourself why it is so hard to get certain things done. You will have those residents who don't care tell you "that's a day shift problem." You will have nights/days where you don't eat for 13+ hours because everything that could go wrong did go wrong and everyone else's things that could go wrong did go wrong as well. You will have parents/patients ***** about you in their native language (that, while you can't speak it well, you sure do understand it) because they want their food reheated when you're trying your damndest to get their treatment started on time (which, for some godawful reason was advanced to the beginning of the shift). You will have to bite your tongue to maintain a "therapeutic environment" while fighting back tears of frustration and wondering WTF you got yourself into. You will be endlessly disappointed in people's decisions about their health and lives and endlessly frustrated at their complete lack of understanding or willfull ignorance that turn what could have been a simple resection and 6 weeks of treatment into a year and a half of back and forth nonsense, failing to make appointments to progress treatment and ultimately turning a curable cancer diagnosis into a terminal one. You will wonder if the things you are being exposed to as a nurse (especially you wonderful ED and ICU RNs) are going to have lasting consequences (health, mental, or otherwise).
You will be pushed to your limit. Repeatedly. You will extend your limitations. Repeatedly. You may be pushed to the brink of feeling unsafe. And then, you'll catch and error made by a veteran RN -- a good nurse -- and you'll remember we're all human and this is all nonsense. You'll put up with a treatment-delaying error made by the shift before you and push and push and PUSH to make it right. You will marvel at the consequences of human error. You will grieve the consequences of human error.
You will see far too many wasted lives, wasted potential, potential disabled by the life-extending (but not quality-increasing) treatments modern medicine can provide.
And yet, you'll keep showing up. You'll almost have a sick love for the torture. You'll swear that you won't stay in bedside longer than the minimum commitment. But, really, what would be different? Human error, apathy, patients being non-adherent to their plans of care -- what will ever change?
In fighting the tears back, there is the clarity that this shift will end. Things will get done. You will be better for it and the next time when you have an even harder shift, you'll laugh at how you thought this hard shift was actually difficult.
And then, you'll have a beer at 9AM with your donut and say, "Hell yeah, I deserve this."
But, honestly, I don't know how long this lunacy can last. If I could somehow make the living I make now with my face in a microscope 8 hours a day M-F, I would be there in a heart beat. So, when people say they want to go into nursing, I say, "Are you really sure? There's still time to do something else."