Nursing Career – Is it the right choice for you?
Nursing is not for everyone and much thought should go in to this career choice. Nursing can offer a very flexible and interesting career and the pay is generally reasonable but the work is hard and very taxing both mentally and physically. You need to decide why you want to look at nursing as a career. Is it a calling for you? Do you have the genuine desire and compassion to put other people first? While this is great, it is far from all that you need to be a good nurse.
To pass the rigorous exams, you also need to be quite smart and you should be able to graduate from the course and pass your licensing exam. You need to be able to identify drugs, memorize their names, applications, standard doses and possible side effects. You generally need to have a good command of the English language in most places, both written and oral. You need to be good at scheduling and prioritizing tasks, be able to multitask and ensure that all tasks are completed, even if it means you barely get a bathroom break on a 12 hour shift. You need to have above average math’s skills as well to ensure that you are giving the correct doses of medication and more. Compassion is good, but knowledge and being able to think on your feet is even more important.
Another thing you need to consider is that you will be dealing with blood, vomit, pee, poop and sputum along with other bodily fluids. You do eventually develop a stronger stomach, but you need to be able to reassure your patient, clean up their messes and not make them feel bad, while controlling your urge to toss your cookies. Nursing is not all about taking care of sweet kids or gurgling babies, it involves dealing with people from all backgrounds and personalities. While you may deal with great people or at least decently behaved people most of the time, you occasionally have to treat someone whose sole aim in life seems to be to make yours miserable. You have to treat these patients the same as the rest even when restraining yourself from strangling them.
You may also have to handle situations that deal with the welfare of a patient that may not be directly related to your job, such as reporting cases of suspected child abuse. As much as it may upset you, you cannot confront the parents yourself and can only treat the child for injuries and wait for the authorities to deal with the situation. You may also have to deal with cases of little ones with fetal alcohol syndrome or born with an addiction to heroin, who will go home with mothers that may not offer the correct care the little one needs, but there is nothing you can do to stop it. You need to have the heart to deal with people who are dying without it ripping your heart to shreds every time you lose a patient. You need to have compassion but also the strength to cope in these types of situations.
You will deal with people who should be in a psychiatric ward, even if you are not directly working with psych patients. You will have trauma patients, ICU patients, emergency room patients, rehab patients and others who are certifiably crazy. You will have to learn how to deal with them. It’s not just the patients though; you can be harassed by crazy visitors. Patient visitors can turn up in various states of inebriation, high on some drug or just the usual type of crazy and you will have to deal with them as well. You also come across mean and nasty people in all aspects of the job and you need to be the sane, cool, calm and collected one under the circumstances.
You need to be prepared to work long hours; do shift work and work through various holidays. You might have to work Christmas and New Year and you will most likely work nights fairly often as well. You will have to work when it rains, when it snows, in storms and blizzards, there is no excuse for not turning up to work due to the weather. Even in severe storms, you need to be at work when required. You need to ensure that you have a support system in place for your children, pets and elderly parents if need be so that you have someone to care for them when you can’t.
Be prepared for stress. This is not a stress free job, no matter what branch of nursing you go in to. You also need to be able to work as part of a team and suck it up when things go wrong, you cannot sulk or cry in the corner when there is work to be done. You need to be fairly thick skinned and be able to handle criticism, including negative criticism well and learn from it.
After all of that, if you still decide you want to be a nurse, there are many good aspects to it as well. The camaraderie with your fellow nurses, the grateful thanks and smiles from patients, the satisfaction of knowing you help save lives and that your job has a purpose other than earning a paycheck every month. You may not get the holidays off, but you can arrange for other important days off to spend the time you need with family and friends when it counts. Nursing takes a special kind of person for a special kind of job. If you are tough enough and still retain your compassion, then this may be the perfect fit for you.