Nursing Majors: Do you really want to be a nurse?

This post is for all the kids out there who think nursing school is right for them. Nursing needs smart students to become good nurses. I hear many stories about nurses who go to school and then quit because they can’t handle the work. There is a possibility it is not what you think it is. Do your research! Look up why you should become a nurse and why you should not become a nurse. You do not want to go to school and then not like the work. I’ve been an RN for 25 years, working on a hospital med/surg floor, at a doctor’s office/surgery center, OR, and hospice. Nursing is definitely not at all like those medical shows on TV. It is not Grey’s Anatomy. It is very hard, it is extremely messy, and it is mentally/physically draining. “Helping people” is only a part of it–you have to NOT care if you get throw up or poop on your scrubs or shoes (there are many poop-related things a nurse does regularly), get yelled at by patients, their family members, or doctors, don’t have time for a bathroom break for hours, have to run around all shift (no time for sitting), constantly (chronically) short-staffed (which means you have to do more than your share of work), always be ready for an emergency, work on weekends, nights, Christmas Eve and morning, Thanksgiving, Easter, your birthday, etc. It is the opposite of what many kids think it is. But there is great satisfaction in it sometimes, and you do get to help people. You can sometimes make a big difference in someone’s life! The bottom line is nurses have to be tough. If you want to deal with many of the above things on a daily basis, then nursing is for you! If not, look at another way of helping people; there are many other ways you can do that that don’t involve poop.

This is a beautiful and potent post.

I will add one tiny point-

If you think you want to be a nurse because you want to be standing at the door waving goodbye to a cute kid who is going home after weeks of care for a chronic condition, and the one to bring the patient’s family the happy news that Mom is getting discharged, and the one who waves goodbye to the parents going home with a newborn baby after 4 tough years of fertility treatments… know that you will also be the one telling an addict that they can’t get admitted to be put on a morphine drip for “a painful shoulder”, the one ushering the parents into the room to say goodbye to their 5 year old on life support, and the one dressing the ulcerated wounds of a homeless woman who hasn’t bathed in a month who won’t say “thank you, you saved my life” or even make eye contact with you.

I know a lot of young would-be nurses who have something of a hero complex-- and forget that medicine has bad outcomes, deals with people who smell, and sometimes involve patching up a suicide attempt so that person can go home and try again with renewed vigor.

1 Like