It takes a lot to be a nurse these days, especially with the coronavirus still surging across the country. The U.S. healthcare industry desperately needs new nurses as aging providers retire or leave the field all together. Serving in the industry is one of the best decisions a person can make as they search for a fulfilling career. But becoming a nurse is easier said than done.
We asked our community what advice they’d give to an aspiring student and here’s what they had to say:
I would seriously re-think about this as a career. You better be a strong person, lots of crying, long long shifts, tough skin when it comes to physicians or surgeons ripping your ass in front of others. Working all holidays, weekends. No bathroom breaks, no lunches. And you better have great running shoes and be physically fit. Because in 20 years you’ll be broken down ?
When patients get angry remember that anger is not a true emotion it’s either sadness or fear. Everyone has a story that leads them to where they are. Do not judge them. Treat them like you would want another nurse to treat your family. Bedside is not for everyone and that’s ok. That is the beauty of nursing. Survive nursing school and then you can go wherever you want. I am an addiction nurse and I love it. You couldn’t pay me enough money to work on a med Surg floor ?
There are many fields and specialties in nursing. When you get too burnt out, remember why you chose that field, just try something different ?.
If you’re in it for the money and don’t have the heart…. trust me when I tell you that people think nurses make way more than they actually do and the job is at many times thankless and mentally and physically draining. Your heart has to be in it, or you will not make it.
Your patients will be hard on you sometimes. It will be hard to be nice to them. Try to think of it as though this were your loved one in the bed – your grandma, your uncle, your mom. And then treat them the way you’d want your loved one to be treated when they are sick, scared, hurting, frustrated. It helps to remember their perspective when they’re hard on you.
NEVER be afraid to ask if you don’t know something. It’s better to ask than make a possibly life-threatening mistake. Don’t let yourself get distracted during a med pass. Advocate for your patients and trust your gut… Don’t be afraid to stand up to a provider if it means advocating for your patient. And if an elderly person tells you they “just don’t feel right” … believe them. Those are the infamous words ?
Work as a CNA first, in the hospital setting. That way you can get a feel of how to behave at the bedside and do patient care. ??♀️
And please … if this is really what you want to do, do NOT choose a different career. There are SO MANY OPTIONS within nursing, you can work three 12’s instead of five 8-hour days. You can travel, or choose a specialty you like etc. There is always a need for nurses, which provides job security. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg on all the benefits. ✨
I know nursing has been so hard the past two years, but I would still take these opinions with a grain of salt. Your career is what you make it. ❤️
There will be times when you wish you’d never gotten into it. But it gives immense satisfaction no matter what branch you decide on. Fulfill your dreams!
You aren’t obligated to take verbal abuse from patients. Smile, tell them you will talk to them when they can be respectful, and walk away.
Best profession on the planet… but take care of yourself first. There will ALWAYS be more sick patients but there’s only one of you. Get a year of med/surg experience, learn your cardiac rhythms, and go travel. If your joy is gone from being on a certain unit, don’t stay there just because it’s “comfortable”. There are tons of opportunities out there… Keep your love of nursing alive by challenging yourself! ?
Get a job someplace with a strong union… it’s the only way you will ever have a voice for your patients and yourself. You are a laborer, and you will be treated as such by your employer. And remember… HR is not your friend, and neither are your managers and supervisors.
You will be overworked. Underpaid. Unappreciated by patients, families, and co-workers. You’ll find yourself in a closet crying then having to quickly gather yourself to go back out on the floor. Then you’re going to have THAT patient. The one who smiles sweetly and says, “Thank you”. Their family will hug you and tell you how much they appreciate all you do. It’ll come full circle and you’ll remember what you did, and it will all be worth it. ?
Stay tuned for more advice from nurses in the coming weeks. There’s plenty of advice to go around.
These responses have been edited for length and clarity.