Q&A: “I’m worn out and unsure if I really want to be a nurse. Help!”
Dear Nurse MER,
I am a nursing major in my junior year, and I have gone through three tough years. While all my friends are out doing fun things (dancing and partying), I am home studying or I am at clinical working.
I want to go out with my friends and enjoy the best days of my life. Instead, I am learning pharmacology and at the same time learning how to handle patient care. I know these are valuable things, but I am tired and worn out and feeling unsure about my decision to be a nurse. Help!
Dearest Unsure Nurse,
Good news: You’re not alone! After three grueling years of schooling, you should be proud of your survival. Did you know that many schools see a 25 percent attrition rate for nursing students by their second year? That means that for every four students who went home for winter break, only three came back. Nursing is extremely difficult and is not for everyone.
Is nursing for you, Unsure Nurse? Judging by the fact you have successfully completed the most difficult portion of the program, intellectually I’d say yes. The problem lies with the time commitment and hard work you must give.
I know what it feels like to sit alone in an apartment, exhausted beyond belief, while your roommates are out enjoying college. I can remember picturing my non-nursing roommates dancing and laughing and rejoicing, as I sat alone at my desk with open textbooks. “These are the best days of our lives!” they were shouting, arms raised high.
Oh, Unsure Nurse, don’t imagine such silly things! For as I look back, I realize that these people were not necessarily having the time of their life, either. Some were lost and confused and had no other purpose than to party. Later on, some even admitted to having envied me for my precise goals. I’d bet that’s what they’re saying about you, too.
Instead of thinking of all the things you’re missing out on, think of all the things you’re gaining that other majors are not. You are learning invaluable skills about dealing with all types of people, about sickness and health, and about compassion and caring. You’re learning at an early stage how to take care of yourself and manage your time. People will ask you advice on these topics for the rest of your life. These skills are priceless, unlike dancing abilities, which wax and wane (though, if you stick with nursing, I think you’ll find we retain our dancing skills for longer than most!).
Unsure Nurse, you just have to grow up a little faster than your roommates, but we all must grow up one day. You’re strong enough to do it now.
However, it may be that nursing is not for you. In that case, I implore you to take a break and try something different. But do not let it be simply because you are tired. You will always be working hard if it’s for something that you love. Do not let it be because you want to hang out with friends more. Let it be because deep in your soul it doesn’t feel right. Nursing is not a job, but a calling. There are many different nursing routes to fulfill. If you can’t think of one that will satiate, look elsewhere.
Until then, Unsure Nurse, keep working hard! People admire you for it. Coming from someone on the other side, it really is worth it. I can promise you that when all your friends put “professional socialite” on their resumes, no one will be impressed. Yet you will have a job! Anywhere in the country, really. And when you start making your very suitable first salary, you can take your friends, who still live at home, out to dinner.
Got a question for Nurse MER? Leave it in the comments below and she might answer it in a future article!
Mia has had the soul of a nurse since birth. She has spent the last decade honing her inherent skills of promoting healing, health, and happiness. Mia has experience in cardiac telemetry, orthopedics, and is currently working at a preventative medical clinic in New York City. She is especially interested in using language, honesty and human connection to inspire, motivate and ignite conversations which afford patients (and nurses!) an opportunity to create their own unique paths toward better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
By Mia Ross