8 Things Every Nurse-To-Be Ought To Know:
Everyone thinks they know what it means to be a nurse. I mean, after all, haven’t we all seen episodes of Scrubs, Nurse Jackie, ER, and the likes? Ahhh…good ole television; we can always count on you to distort and sensationalize reality. Here’s the thing, though, being a nurse is what you see on TV and then some. And then some more. Or should I say, a LOT more. Whether you’re on your way to becoming a full-fledged RN, or simply toying with the idea of perhaps making a foray into the medical world, here’s a pretty comprehensive list of ‘real life’ things you ought to know. Let’s try and cushion that blow of reality somewhat;)
1. Being a nurse means I’m in charge of my patients’ medical care. Right? Wrong. Wrong. WRONG. When you graduate with that nursing degree, you become an honorary psychologist, mediator, waitress, housekeeper, patient advocate, electrician etc. Seriously!
2. Your schedule may look fabulous on paper, but looks can be deceiving. Sure, the notion of three 12-hour shifts seems cool, but when you count the time it takes to get to and from the hospital, plus the time it takes to receive report and then report to the oncoming nurse, you’re looking at more of a 15-hour work shift. Brutal, yeah! That’s not to mention, the emergency 3 A.M. calls beggggging you to come in on your day off because once again they’re short staffed. Did I just put a damper on the whole awesome schedule thing?? My sincerest apologies.
3. You will become the medical go-to for every friend you’ve ever had and the most distant relatives. There are those who will text you or email you with graphic pictures included, others will deem it necessary to give you a phone call, and a small percentage may actually show up at your front door! Just smile and bear with it. These people mostly mean well and simply don’t realize just how annoying it is and that they’re not the only ones with medical questions. If you must, gently yet firmly direct them to their general physician. Hopefully they’ll get the hint.
4. Mistakes happen. The first one will hit you hardest and chances are you won’t forgive yourself. You may in fact cry. A lot. Especially if it involved a medication error. But you will learn from it and I can guarantee this: You will NEVER make the same mistake again.
5. You will get attached to patients. Sure, they tell you not to, but more often than not a patient comes along who just tugs at your heart. The hardest part is that you may have to say goodbye to this patient. In fact, you may have to say good bye to quite a few patients during the course of your career. And each time it happens, whether it’s the first, the 10th, the 20th, or the last time, you will never be prepared. Just know that.
6. You will hurt. This time, I’m talking physically. Being on your feet for 12+ hours a day, lifting 250+ pound individuals, holding in your bladder to the extent that you forget you even have a bladder, is all part of the job and won’t be easy on your tired body. All I can say is get yourself a comfortable set of breathable scrubs that’ll allow you to move about with ease, a supportive nursing shoe, and a great heating pad.
7. The term overworked and underpaid had to have been invented for nurses. You with me?? The base salary for a nurse isn’t much considering the extent of the work they do, but lucky for you there’s always the opportunity to earn more cash by picking up shifts on nights, weekends, and holidays.
8. Make sure that this is absolutely, 100% something that you want to do. Unfortunately, it’s a thankless job and you will totally have a love/hate relationship with it. There are days where you will love what you do and you’ll walk out proud of the difference you just made in someone’s life, and there are days where you will hate what you do and you’ll cry the entire way home. But even when the going gets tough, remind yourself of the reason you became a nurse in the first place and of the many lives you’ve touched along your journey.