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Nursing is a truly grueling profession, and any candidate (no matter how qualified) is bound to harbor some apprehension. Below, Kati Kleber (aka Nurse Eye Roll) offers a healthy dose of encouragement and advice for nursing students with heavy doubts about a career in nursing:
I’m about to begin my fourth and final year in nursing school. It’s obviously been a pain in the behind, but at this point, I’m not really worried about passing classes or boards. I’m most worried that I’m not fully suited to be a nurse. What do you say to someone who fears that they might not quite be cut out for this career, gets anxious at the very thought of resuming clinical, can’t fathom the body-wrecking impact of a night shift and lets the fear of hurting patients ruin her sleep as it is?
First of all, I’d like to say that it’s good that you do worry (to an extent) because there is a certain amount of healthy fear that nurses should carry in every day of work for their entire career. We do have a lot of power with what we do, and it’s good to continually be conscious of that. I’ve met quite a few nurses who act like nothing is a big deal and are fearless…which is terrifying from a coworker/patient side. It’s hard to instill that in someone without some big accident happening to put it there; it’s better to have it in the first place and learn how to control it to a healthy level.
You don’t have to work at the bedside. I know plenty of nurses who went straight from school to working in a clinic, behavioral health inpatient and outpatient, in an outpatient surgery center, as school nurses or later went into legal nurse consulting. There are many options, so going in as a bedside nurse in a hospital setting on night shift is not the path you must walk to be a good nurse.
The great thing about nursing is that there are so many choices. Since you’re in your fourth year, I’m assuming you’re getting a bachelor’s, which is phenomenal. You’ll have many more options, long-term, should you decide that working at the bedside isn’t for you. Honestly, it’s not for every nurse and that doesn’t make you any less of a great nurse. Do you like administration? You can get an MBA or an MHA and get into nursing leadership. Are you good with computers? Nursing informatics positions are relatively new, since the whole country is going to electronic medical records. Developing programs, consulting for hospitals, etc., is part of the job. Plus, I believe they get paid pretty well.
Clinicals are nerve-wracking. A lot of my peers loved them. I hated them, honestly. I got nervous every single time, and the only time I didn’t was my senior year in my preceptorship after I had been there a few weeks when I had gotten to know everyone. Just look at it as trying to get as familiar with patient care as possible, and don’t let it weigh on you any more than that.
And don’t let those people who constantly talk about how much they love them or act like everything is easy ruin your day. They suck. (That would be a good time for a NurseEyeRoll.)
As far as it ruining your sleep, I hope you find peace knowing that no matter the path you choose, you will have a preceptor showing you how to do things. They will guide you, comfort you, support you and push you.
Also, nursing school does attempt to scare people into not making mistakes. Odd, right?
For example, in school they made a huge deal about insulin and how strict you have to be. It is a big thing to understand and be consistent with; however, when you’re out there, your patient who has been a diabetic for 20 years will at some point eat before you check his sugar. It’s not the end of the world. It happens. We’re human. You’ll have to correct it later per the doctor’s order and check his sugar a few extra times, but it happens. Every new nurse makes little mistakes like that.
I’m glad you asked this because I know you’re not alone in this feeling. I hope this gave you a little peace and comfort about starting your last year. You’ll get through it. You’ll find your niche once you get your feet wet and figure out what you like and what gives you joy. And you’ll be awesome.
To read more, visit NurseEyeRoll.com.
Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Take Care of Your Patients and Yourself talks about how to realistically live as a nurse, both at home and at the bedside…with a little humor and some shenanigans along the way. Get ready: It’s about to get real, real nursey. You can get your own copy at NurseEyeRoll.com, Amazon or Goodreads (ebook).