Nurses are Masters at the Fine Art of Caring
© 2007-present Kathy Quan RN BSN All Rights Reserved
Nursing is not for everyone. You must be prepared for work really hard. Nursing is both physically and emotionally challenging and draining. With the exception of a few areas, nurses provide care around the clock 24/7. This is usually divided into shifts of 8 or 12 hours, but it includes nights, weekends, and yes, even holidays.
Nursing is a service profession. And the customer is always right and comes first. In professional terms, it's a patient-centered service. Without being colloquial, nurses are here to serve the patients. Most people who say they want to be a nurse have a driving passion to help people. If you don't have this, please look for another field of work. Nurses must have passion and empathy!
The focus of nursing is on the patient and meeting his/her needs. That means sometimes you'll be delaying your lunch or dinner in order to care for your patients. You may not get to go to the bathroom when you need to, so be sure to go when you a chance! Sometimes you'll have to put a conversation on hold or not even take time to look at a personal message or text. Your patients will take precedence at all times.
For some younger nurses, these may seem foreign. But the eye roll or deep sigh when your patient interrupts a personal conversation or phone call will get you fired! At the very least make enemies of your co-workers. Being a nurse is NOT ABOUT YOU! It's about helping others who need assistance.
You will miss family events, and sometimes have to work late. You will have to work your share of holidays and weekends. And in some fields you may have to be on-call after hours in addition to working your scheduled shift. As a new nurse, you will be expected to “pay your dues” meaning those with more seniority will get the best shifts, the best days off, and sometimes won’t have to work as many holidays. You will eventually earn this status too, but it will take time.
Nurses have to contend with cranky patients and demanding family members. But think back to the last time you didn't feel well. Undoubtedly you weren't your perky happy self either. And in a strange and frightening situation you too would probably become demanding if your own health or the health of a loved one was at stake.
Nurses also have to deal with blood, sputum, feces, urine, vomitus, and some pretty ugly, smelly wounds. But nursing is about helping others in a time of need. It's about taking care of people and this is just all part of a day's work. Nursing is about combining the art of caring with the science and technology of health care.
Nurses are overworked and under paid, there is no doubt about it. Nurses have been grumbling for years that conditions have to improve. In many ways things have improved, but there is still a long way to go.
Perhaps it's time for the administrators to think outside the box and consider options such as job sharing, or working half shifts of four or six hours. Or more flexibility such as working several weekends in a row and then having several off. There are many options to help ease and improve working conditions. Bring your new ideas to the table.
Sometimes just having someone actually cover for you for 15-30 minutes so you can eat a snack or meal or just go to the bathroom would be nice! Yes, there are places out there where nurses don't get breaks!
Those who come into nursing to make money, to meet and marry Dr. McDreamy, or to have a level of prestige will find themselves disappointed for the most part. They usually don't stick around very long.
Those who truly want to be nurses because they want to help people and make a difference, will be the most satisfied. It may take some time for you to find your niche, and if you've burned out, to find a new one, but keep looking. Nursing can be one of the most rewarding careers, but sometimes you have to provide the rewards for yourself. If you get as much experience as you can, there are always new fields open to you!
You have to glean from each encounter and experience some meaning and sense of accomplishment. You won't always (or often) be thanked for what you do. You have to know that you gave it your best shot to help this person and to make a difference in their life today. If you know that you did, then that's what counts. Reward yourself! Be proud to be a nurse. Not everyone can do this job!
Photo from Morguefile.com