Posted September 25, 2013 by

Thinking about Becoming a Nurse? Here Are 8 Things You Need to Know

Female pediatric nurse smiling in an office

Female pediatric nurse smiling in an office. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Being a nurse isn’t easy. You’ll be on your feet all day working long hours with lots of stress and less respect than you deserve. Your job is a blend of teacher, care giver, janitor, doctor, and psychiatrist. Fortunately, knowing how important your work is and the impact is has on other people’s lives can make it all worth it. But don’t go into this career lightly. Here are eight things to consider as you contemplate a career in nursing.

1.    Not everyone is appreciative

Just because you’re trying to help all of your patients doesn’t mean they will all be appreciative or even nice, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t let their behavior effect the quality of care you provide them. It won’t always be easy, but try to consider that most people in the hospital are having a pretty bad day or life, so try not to take it too personally, and be grateful for everyone that is cheerful or appreciative.

The lack of appreciation can also extend to coworkers and management. You will have doctors yell at you for things that may or may not be your fault, and it is probably in your best interest to not yell back. Regardless of how much impact you’ll have on patients in the hospital, doctors will remain above you in the hierarchy of the hospital.

2.    Caring is only part of it

Compassion and empathy are valuable attributes to have as a nurse, considering how much you’ll be interacting with vulnerable, and sometimes confused or scared, people, but you’ll need to be capable of a lot more. There is a huge amount of technical knowledge you’ll need to be able to learn, and keep learning as medicine advances. You’ll also be interacting with a lot of machines and needing to understand what they’re telling you and what of that you’ll have to tell someone else about.

3.    It’s gross

The human body is an amazing thing, but some of the fluids that come out of it can be difficult to deal with for some people. Make sure you’re able to stomach disgusting situations without losing focus on what you need to do.

4.    It’s physically demanding

Nursing isn’t a 9–5 desk job. You’ll likely be working 12-hour shifts where you’ll be on your feet the whole time. You’ll also spend a fair amount of your day moving people around in many different ways. You may have to help roll them over or to the bathroom, or you may just need to be holding their arm up to take a measurement, but you’ll need to be fit to be a nurse.

5.    No bad days

You’ll surely be plenty of bad days, but you don’t get to have a bad day yourself. Too many people are counting on you for you to be tired or distracted. You don’t get to get to bring your baggage to work and hope others can pick up the slack. You simply have to be ready for anything at any time.

6.    Lots of paperwork

You’ll need to document everything. This means hours of your day will involve detailing everything you’ve done for a patient, but it has to be done. Communication is vital so that everyone is on the same page and knows what has and hasn’t been done, especially when care is handed over to the next shift.

You’ll also be documenting everything so that there is supporting evidence that you did your job correctly should there be a malpractice suit filed. So think about clarity when making your notes.

7.    It’s hard

Plain and simple, nursing is difficult. You’ll have to be incredible passionate in one moment as you talk to parents about their child’s condition, then walk out of their room to put on a smile and cheerfully greet your next patient, and then deal with someone who you couldn’t help passing away before again happily greeting another new patient. In order to deal with all this, you have to be able to compartmentalize and shift gears quickly.

8.   Decisions matter

Your decisions will matter. The choices you make may decide whether somebody lives or dies. And you may make a mistake that leads to the end of a patient’s life. You’ll need to be able to handle that while still making difficult decisions and not slowing down for the rest of your shift.

Being a nurse will be heartbreaking at times. It will be uplifting at other times. And there will be a lot of tediousness in between. You’ll need to be strong and handle all of this well and put as much of it behind you when you walk out the door so you don’t let it destroy your personal life. Fortunately, at work your fellow nurses will understand and tend to be very supportive. You’ll have two families and spend more time with the one at the hospital. That’s the life you’re choosing, so make sure you’ll be happy with it.

If you want to reach for a higher calling in life, start by getting CPR & First Aid certified and start your journey today.

About the author:

John Perkins works as a marketing manager with OnlineCPRCertification.net and enjoys writing about topics related to health and wellness. In his free time, he enjoys wake boarding, going to concerts, and playing his guitar.

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