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Single Dad Can't Handle Blood and Bodily Fluids Wants to be a Nurse

Nurse Beth   (1,039 Views | 15 Replies)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

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I am 40 years old, and I am unhappy with my career and life. I am in the middle of a midlife crisis right now. I work as a machinist. I don't get any fulfillment or satisfaction from my job. I did not really choose that profession but rather an accident.

It's what I did during my time in the military. I am thinking about a career in healthcare ( Nursing) but I am very sensitive to body fluids, blood, etc... Is this a career I should even consider? I am a single dad, and I have obligations - Would I have to give up working to commit full time to completing such program? Any advise? Thank you

Dear Unhappy,

Some people work during nursing school, but working full-time is difficult. Before nursing school, there are 2-4 semesters of pre-requisites. Your job would have to be flexible to allow you to attend classes. Nursing school is considered full-time by many. Being a single dad, working full-time, and attending nursing school would not be easy.

At the same time, it is an excellent, rewarding profession. It would provide you with a good living and countless opportunities.

I myself was a single mom to 3 children under the age of 9 and I did work and attend nursing school. I had no family in town and took out no loans. It depends how badly you want it. I always believed it would be worth it, and the best choice in the long run for my family. It was.

Being very sensitive to blood and body fluids is a big concern. Many of us are sensitive to 1 or 2 body fluids, but not all. For example, some nurses have no problem with emesis and blood, but can't tolerate mucous from a tracheostomy. We all learn to control our responses and remain professional.

You would have to overcome your aversion because you will be exposed to all manners of body fluids and it cannot hamper your ability to do a good job.

Best wishes in your decision,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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Note that there are lots of other stable healthcare roles you could consider that would not involve as much exposure to bodily fluids. Radiology technician, sonogram technician, respiratory therapist (you would see a lot of sputum but less of all the other stuff), physical therapy aide, etc.

Look at your local community college and attend information seminars. It is totally possible to overcome your squeamishness about body fluids depending on how bad the squeamishness is. Most people get desensitized through frequent exposure. It certainly was the case for me.

Good luck!

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I used to faint at the site of blood! 
Nobody likes all of the “icky stuff” we have to handle, but you will learn to hide your response to it.

I started off working as untrained, ( except for 2 days of training), nurse’s aid, nearly 40 years ago. This was the most basic care to be provided at the nursing home I worked in. I was very worried, as I had never even changed a baby’s diaper!

I got used to it. It was never pleasant, but I learned to hide my revulsion. ( Nurses make great actors!).

If this is something you want and are willing to work hard for it, then go for it. Life experiences make for well rounded nurses.

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nursemike has 12 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Rodeo Nursing (Neuro).

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I've seen some single mom's get through nursing school--very difficult, but not impossible. It wasn't super easy for me working part time and raising cats. But if you can do it, it's not a bad way to make a decent living with hours that may be adaptable to your situation. 

I don't intend this to be nearly as judgmental as it may, perhaps, sound, but when people mention bodily fluids, I wonder whether they have any familiarity with healthcare. When I was a carpenter, I imagined the gooey, smelly parts would be hard to handle, too. When I applied for a job at a hospital, my hope was to work in facilities, but the job they offered was as a patient transporter, and I figured a foot in the door might be a way toward the job I actually wanted. Turned out I loved the job I got, and interacting with patients was the part I liked most. It has worked out well for me, and certainly could for you (I started nursing school at 45 and wasn't the oldest in my class), but if you don't have a pretty good idea what you're getting into, it can be a pretty big commitment. It's not irrevocable--a lot of the pre-reqs would apply to other majors, and depending on the program you would get some clinical exposure early enough to change your mind if it was too horrific. But a lot of what a lay person imagines to be difficult--smelly stuff, or touching strangers' naughty bits, etc. can be gotten used to. Those are not the reasons nurses sit in their cars and cry after a bad shift. 

If you are completely unfamiliar with the field, I'd recommend finding out as much as you can before leaping. There may be volunteer opportunities you could look into, if getting an entry-level job at a facility isn't practical (those jobs don't usually pay well, but some facilities will help with tuition if you do go on to nursing school or an allied profession). Following these boards is also a good way to learn--I discovered allnurses.com while I was in nursing school, and it was a real help to me, then and now.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Lorri Cook is a ADN, RN and specializes in ER, Psych, Chemical Dependency.

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I tend to agree with the comment suggesting getting trained to become an x-ray tech,  or an mri tech, both of which pay fairly well, and allow you to avoid bodily fluid exposure.  You might train to be a nurse and get over your revulsion, but again, you might not.  In school, you have to learn the basics of patient care, and after graduation, you need to get some patient care experience to move beyond bedside nursing, and that's a lot of blood, BM and sputum in the meantime.  You also don't explain why you want to become a nurse,  all of which reasons you have to be able to hang onto to get through the parts of nursing school which are difficult.  If you can come up with 5 good reasons to endure something you know ahead of time you can't tolerate, and you feel exposure to these things won't make you throw in the towel, go for it.  It's hard, but people do it every day.  Good luck.

 

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I'd hate to hear someone give up on nursing because of blood and body fluids.

What, where, when, how often have you seen blood and body fluids? 

Depending on what unit you work on....actually it's  not like every shift your patients are vomiting and bleeding!  Some units it may be almost never!

Seeing your own or your children's or a co-worker's blood from a sudden  injury is very different from seeing a patient's blood in the controlled environment of a hospital. 

I got light headed the other day when I had a deep cut on my finger. Took off the bandaid and blood squirted about 4 feet! Looking at pictures of bloody injured people and watching people vomit on TV grosses me out.  When I was a teenager my older sister broke her leg.  I wasn't home when it happened, I fainted just from hearing about it!  Yet I've been working acute care over 30 years with no problem.

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Lorri Cook is a ADN, RN and specializes in ER, Psych, Chemical Dependency.

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Probably will need to not vomit or faint during nursing school as well...

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Hi, I’ve been a RN for 35 years and I personally would not encourage anyone to go into nursing anymore. I had a brand new baby and I worked full time while in nursing school and it was very, very difficult. But that’s not why I don’t recommend nursing. There are easier, less stressful and equally well paying medically related careers out there. I personally would say to look into radiology and ultrasound tech. Maybe contact local schools that have these programs or even find someone to shadow. Nursing has just changed too much and not for the better. As a friend, now retired says “nursing will destroy you mentally, physically and spiritually.” 

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myoglobin has 12 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

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The rad techs at my hospital make about $22.00 per hour compared to around $34.00/hr for nurses. Plus they have to work "on call" and mandatory overtime (if needed).  Your aversion to body fluids can be minimized with exposure/CBT therapy. Also, there are Nursing Jobs (such as psych) which minimize this compared to something like say ICU (where it is much higher).  There are even positions such as management where this is minimized even further. You could even become a "direct entry" psych NP or DNP and teach online (or do a year or two as a case manager, or work in a MD's office where again body fluid exposure is less).  

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NurseLizabeeRN is a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Burn/Trauma, Med-Surg, Nurse Education.

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Yes you can get a job that wont require you to be exposed to many bodily fluids BUT you gotta get through nursing school first. If you can handle the bodily fluids while in clinical, you could definitely do it in practice. Most of all, I think a person needs to have a strong desire for nursing bc although it pays well, we DO NOT get compensation for ALL we must do as nurses. That's a recipe for burnout very quickly. 

This is something to think hard about. Best of luck to you!

 

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CKPM2RN has 3 years experience as a ASN, EMT-P and specializes in Emergency/Med-Tele.

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On 1/1/2020 at 9:07 AM, Lorri Cook said:

I tend to agree with the comment suggesting getting trained to become an x-ray tech,  or an mri tech, both of which pay fairly well, 

 

YES! If I was to do it over I would have become an imaging tech. Seriously. 

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