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Top 10 reasons you SHOULD NOT be a nurse

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We’ve been talking a lot about lists lately. Lists on specific types of nurses. Everything from specialty nurses, student nurses, and even a couple lists on being a male nurse (yeah, had to include that one).

But, on the flip side, not everyone can do what we do. In fact there are certain things about our job that should deter nurse-hopefuls from even making the attempt.

So, here is a list of who shouldn’t be a nurse, become a nurse, or even pursue a career in nursing. I call it the ‘Nursing is not for you’ list.

Who should NOT be a nurse:

If you are doing this for the money.

While some areas of the profession get paid very well, others are borderline free-labor.

If you are doing this for the fame.

Just as a nurse about this one. We are the last person to get credit when and where credit is deserved. A very thankless job.

If you faint at the sight of blood.

I see blood more than I see water most shifts.

If you have a sensitive sense of smell.

We nurses can predict our day and describe our day just with one smell. And we experience some of the worst!

If you like sitting down for your job.

While this doesn’t apply to every nurse, any nurse who works on the clinical floor can’t remember when they actually got to sit down during a shift!

If you have a small bladder or cannot hold your water.

This ranks right up there with sitting down.

If you don’t like change.

It truly is the only constant thing in our profession. I’ve only been doing this for just shy of a decade and wow. So many things have changed and are changing. Some simple, and some much more complex.

If you don’t like continuing education and/or continually learning.

This is part of being a health care professional. You need to keep your knowledge and skill level at par with the innovation curve. If you don’t you risk harming those you care for.

If you don’t have good personal skills (people skills).

You need to be socially competent in order to provide the very best care possible. Skill and knowledge will only get you so far.

Finally, saving the best for last. If you don’t know how to care about your care.

Caring about your care is not something that can ever be taught or learned. You either have it, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

There you have it, a list that has equal parts humor and professionalism.

So, should you be a nurse?

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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21 Responses to Top 10 reasons you SHOULD NOT be a nurse

  1. Steve

    You just described half the nurses I work with in Long Term Care… I knew there is a reason I do not particularly like some of my co-workers.

    • zlatajagoda CNA

      @Steve. I know what you mean. What is it about long term care that brings out the nastiness in people. I’ve been horrified at the behavior of some of my coworkers. =(

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Steve Wow, sorry to hear. Best of luck with that tough situation.

  3. Your name

    Agreed, Steve. I work long term care as well and I am right there with you on that one.

  4. Jeanne Vacca

    You forgot about having a sense of humor,and you didn’t mention on being okay with patients dying despite you doing your best for them.I’ve seen some of the best nurses clinically who could not deal with death and some who have no senses of humor.Otherwise,I totally agree with your article,Sean!

  5. Jeanie

    Great article Sean. I am entering my 37th year as a nurse. I have witnessed many changes and find excitement in continually learning. I love this profession.Sense of humor and dealing with loosing patients could be added to your list, as states above.Having family members who understand you missing holidays and special events.

  6. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @Jeanne
    @Jeanie You are both absolutely right – I should have included a sense of humor. I think we probably could add many more. There’s never room for just 10! :)

    • Nancynicunightnurse RN

      You can’t be a perfectionist! That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to do your best, but at any given time, you may have to stop what you are doing and focus on something else. That might mean that you have to take on extra patients, help others who are busier than yourself, admit a new critical patient and give up part of the patient assignment you’ve had all night, or even float to a cluster unit. You may have to leave a task undone to do other things more important. You have to come to the realization that you might not be able to do it all. Supernurses are rare…Team players who are willing to sacrifice things being perfect fit in better in the real world of nursing.

      • compassionateaboutnursing

        I love this comment! Flexibility is a must in nursing….I’ve seen some nurses who WILL NOT offer help to the drowning nurse, it’s frustrating when you see them sitting at the desk and you are up to your eyebrows with an admit, a patient going south, another patient having severe respiratory stress and you try to prioritize which one you NEED to start with….Team players are a must!!!!

  7. bdarst

    Quit dogging long term care some of us are working extremely hard with tons of tough families/residents and regulations! I worked with bad nurses in every part of nursing over the last 30 years!

  8. gerdoroy RN

    Good reasons, I have worked in the hospital setting, hospice and currently in LTC I have seen nurses in all fields who should not be a nurse with some or all of the above mentioned reasons.

  9. maya_rachmah

    What an interseting article. Thanks for the advice. I think it will be my motivation as a nursing student for become a good nurse some day ^^

  10. Marylizbeth829

    I know that for quite a few of the nurses I work with, nursing is actually a second career for them due to the failing economy. I work in a state mental health facility, and I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was five. Nursing is not easy, it is not glamorous, and sometimes it does not feel rewarding, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I love the population I serve. I wish nursing schools could post this list as a disclaimer. It would make it more accessible for those who really want to be a nurse and those who are doing it for the money, fame, praise, or other mythical reason.

  11. ii AGREE WITH U ON ALL COUNTS, Yes working 34 yrs i have seen so much and learned so much . The patients appreciate us the most rewards are small, in some places but public appreciates a good nurse and will make it known, Yes also i have met so many that shy from blood or sputum, etc, that is not good , and some are there just for some kind of glory without even earning it , whatever, but long care nurses are usually most dedicated , i feel they have a big responsibility put on them from what my RN sister tells me from KS. also on good personal skills and dealing with death that comes with experience , and repetion is ur teacher , in every aspect of life, and in nursing , so don’t give up at first just cause ur scared or feel un qualified, learning comes with the job and the eagernesss to gain knowledge.

    • compassionateaboutnursing

      LTC nursing is a hard discipline, sometimes I have 46 patients alone….it’s difficult at times but I sure wouldn’t change it for a minute….the key is to have a great team to work with…..

  12. carollynnSKJ Caption Contest

    And, don’t be a nurse if you are so out of touch with reality that you withhold pain meds from your dying patient because you don’t want them getting addicted. (This actually happened to my mother in LTC until I set the nurse straight).

  13. crissy1219 RN

    You also forgot those nurses who are social climbers i.e. wanting to marry physicians. Those types of nurses can be useless as well because they are too busy flirting w/the docs and not doing their jobs.

  14. Toni LVN

    LONG POST! In response to comments about LTC Nurses:

    I am an LVN in Long Term Care. I LOVE what I do. I became a nurse at age 52. At age 36 my husband age 42 died from a rare disease in an LTC that looked beautiful, but provided lousy care. I do see nurses that shouldn’t be there, but I see more nurses that really care. LVNs do the same work as an RN that works the floor for at least $10.00 less an hour. I have had PICC lines, IVs, Tube feeders, Trachs, & more to care for in an LTC. Also in the LTCs I have worked in CNAs never do Accuchecks (they have at some hospitals) & the Nurses are to do any vital sign that are required.

    (I was in an RN program & was only a semester away from graduating, but an illness (Strep) had me miss to many clinicals & I had to drop out.)

    I have had anywhere from 28 to 40 Residents a shift to care for depending on thew census & facility. On night shift we have 1 CNA for every 14 to 35 residents.

    If a nurse works Days or Evenings & doesn’t have a Med Aide, that nurse gives meds to all 28 – 40 residents & does all the treatments (Nebs, wound care, other topical,etc.) as well, unless there is a “treatment nurse”. NO Pre-set-up of meds allowed, you pull them as you go into each room for each resident. I have worked in a facility that had Med aides for only Day Shift Mon. – Fri. & no Treatment Nurse, another that No Med Aides & 1 Treatment nurse that worked only 7a – 7p. When a CNA calls in & there is a Med Aide scheduled, the Med Aide works as a CNA & the nurse passes the meds & does the treatments. You have a 2 hour “window” to get ALL MEDs & Treatments completed. If a med is due at 1900 you have from 1800 to 2000 to give it. So, you have 120 minutes to give 28 people meds (& it is RARE in LTCs for a resident to not have at least 1 – 2 meds BID). That is an average of 4.2 minutes a person for 28 persons to 3 minutes per person for 40 persons.

    State regulations are very strict, far more than in a hospital (I have worked Med/Surg & Swing Bed). The proceedure for incontinent care by state regs here (TEXAS) are very similar to giving a bed bath & take at least 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Times that by say 10 incontinent residents & you have 100 to 150 minutes for incontinent care alone. Then times that by rounds every 2 hours (120 minutes). Add in those residents requiring turning q 2hrs., ones that need assistance to the bathroom & you have to wait right by the door until they finish because they will forget to “ring” for assistance & others that need assistance for various situations/reasons.

    Add to the mix residents that are at times violent, Family members that expect staff to have unlimited time to spend 1 on 1 with their loved one & quite often lack of needed supplies, not enough wash cloths (or even none), linens, underpads, the normal order for no briefs at night to allow skin to air out (so full linen changes in addition to the incontinent care) & you begin to see why turn over can be high for Nurses & CNAs in LTCs.

    Yes, I do love my work & do my best. If I am sitting I am charting (there is “special” charting for Medicare), Monthly summaries for whatever residents you are assigned (not always ones you regularly care either), filing, calling a Dr. or Family member, writing a new tele. order, filling out an incident report (IR) & calling those that have to be contacted regarding the IR, reordering meds or any number of other things that need my attention. I usually eat while I am doing those things.

    I know nurses that say they are done in 1 hour, but when I follow them the med cart & treatment carts have not been cleaned (the tops get groddy from jelly to mixed crushed meds spills from health shakes etc.) nor restocked (I guess the re-stocking fairy missed them), accucheck supplies are not restocked (that darn fairy again), the desk area is not only messy, but sticky/dirty, & meds have not been re-ordered since the last night I worked.

    I do make certain my CNAs get their 30 minute break because they usually do most of the heavy physical work. There are lazy ones but it is my job to not let that happen.

    My Residents are my PRIORITY, they come first in everything. Even with all the above mentioned whinnings, I love what I do.

  15. Aurora

    I’m on my way to becoming a nurse. I’m taking anatomy and physiology this semester and am at the top of my class and have a 3.8 GPA. I’m not squeamish at all, I love being on my feet, I get bored when things stay the same, and I would love to continue my education throughout my life. The only thing I’m worried about is that I’m shy. I am very compassionate and love to help people though, so I’m hoping that I will just learn to come out of my shell! Maybe my kindness will make up for my shyness!

    • ibatxrn RN

      Aurora, don’t you worry about being shy. As you start taking care of patients in your clinicals, you will see that a nurse HAS to advocate for them. Having confidence in yourself is a MUST and also part of this process. This is what brought me out of my “shell” and taught me to be assertive. I went from shy to teaching in classes of 80 students! Just give yourself time. Sounds like you have a good start. You also want to be a nurse for the right reasons so you will be great!!

  16. DRandrn

    Kudos Toni! I am a 35 year veteran and I have done it all. Currently in LTC and personally I think the acute care kIds should rotate through just to learn organizational skills. 11p to7 am I can be the only license for 30 patients and that includes med pass, Gtubes, 9 PICs, 7 trachs, I draw AM blood and sometimes I get admissions. It seems to me nurses in Acute Care need a class on turning ppl, ALL admissions arrive with 5or6 or more pressure areas on their bottoms plus unrecorded rashes and skin tears. Do they even give baths in hospitals any more? Patients routinely show up filthy and the men all have Santa beards. My GNAs are compassionate Goddesses who work like slaves for almost no money. We put up with constant critism from Admin, the State, Families, and worst of all the Media. Never see a story on TV about the million ppl who show up every day to do a thankless job with grace but let one bad apple get in the barrel and it is all over the news forWEEKS.