Let’s pretend it’s pre-corona days. Sounds fun, no?? Life’s a bed of roses; people squish into subway cars like a pack of sardines, go out to bars and diners where they share drinks and food, crowd stadiums for some good ole entertainment and overall enjoy life. Ahhhhh…those were the days! Oh! And people also went to school and college, got degrees in an actual classroom setting, and even became nurses. Little did they know…HA! And for the sake of this post, they don’t know. Because guess what; even though Corona happened, people are still chasing their dreams and working towards their goal of becoming nurses. Which is fabulous and selfless, but also, we here have to let them in on what we already know. So, while you incredible ladies are going full steam ahead with your mission to make a difference in this world; here are just a couple of things to keep in mind. I like to call them, ‘The Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Nurse.’ Hence the title:)
1. Nursing isn’t strictly medical care. It’s kind of like being a Mom, but to your patients. You’re their advocate, cheerleader, waitress, therapist, electrician, technological expert, housekeeper etc. Oh, and nurse as well. I am not exaggerating in the slightest. Beware!
2. The schedule looks Uh-MAZING on paper. Three days a week?? That’s incredible!! Not. First of all, you’re working 12-hour shifts. So that’s 7 to 7 either way you slice it. And between me and you, most shifts look more like 15-hour shifts. And we can’t forget those desperate 5 AM calls beeegging you to come cover for someone. And by extension this also mean you’re going to miss a lot of social events. Yes, even though you ONLY work 3 days a week, officially. It is what it is and comes with the territory.
3. Mistakes will happen. The first will hands down be the most traumatic and you will cry. You will also never forgive yourself for it and it will eat you up alive until you’re a thousand percent sure the patient is ok. But you know what? It won’t be your only mistake and the good news is you’ll never make the same mistake twice. Plus, you’ll be a better nurse for it.
4. Death will happen and nothing can possibly prepare you for it. Whether it’s your first death, your 12th, or your last, and whether it’s a child, a young father, or a 97 year old woman who’s lived a full life; it will affect you, and change you as a person. It’s something you and you alone will have to process and live with.
5. Everything will hurt. Your legs, the soles of your feet, your back. You name it; it will ache. It’s just the nature of the job. A nurse walks on average 4-5 miles during a 12-hour shift, while your average American clocks about 2.5-3 miles over the course of an 18-hour day. That’s not to mention the heavy lifting (hello obese patients) nurses do. And while it’s all part and parcel of being a nurse there are things you can do to minimize the aches and pains. You can invest in a great pair of nursing shoes, wear compression socks, and go out and purchase the best heating pad on the market for when you finally collapse into bed.
6. You will become your family’s as well as your friends’ resident health expert. Yup. You will get calls, texts, emails etc. all accompanied with a photo and a story. And you’ll just smile and answer them because you’re a great sport:)
7. Meals on wheels will be a thing. And that’s because more often than not the only meal you eat will be the one you eat during your commute to work. If you’re lucky you’ll find 3 minutes to wolf down a quick lunch.
8. You need to want to do this with every fiber of your being. As unfortunate as it is, this is a thankless job. And things can get real dark and messy; I’m looking at you not-yet-existent-corona. But for the lady or gentleman that has the fire for this, we need you and you need to do this. You’ll have a love/hate relationship with your job as well as with your coworkers- because that’s how it is with family. But there are so many bright parts to this job. You are literally saving lives and only heroes do that! So thank you for choosing this path and thank you for being YOU!