Would you ever discourage someone from becoming a nurse?

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I love the profession of nursing. I genuinely believe that nursing is one of THE greatest professions out there. Period.

We have such a diverse number of career path choices, and have few limitations when considering a lateral career change. We can move to different aspects of our profession without great burden.

But as much as I want to express my unwavering fervor for everything nursing, there are aspects of this profession that give me pause.

Would I ever discourage someone from being a nurse?

I think the answer would be a resounding “no,” but I would follow or even preface my answer with some warnings about certain aspects of our profession.

These aspects are not unique or entirely different from those of most other careers out there. The red tape you have to walk along and the bureaucratic hoops you have to jump through are just as exhausting. We spend a great deal of time defining and defending our jobs, instead of actually doing our jobs.

If I had to issue a list of warnings, these would be the things to think about before you take the head-first plunge into nursing:

  • You better grow thick skin, because the browbeating is endless, from all walks of life.
  • Our profession IS mostly women (it’s a fact, not an opinion). Like it or not, there IS a cattiness to the atmosphere. Not all nurses can be trusted. There is always drama.
  • The hospital environment is like a soap opera. “These are the days of our lives” is a surreal joke. Some people never actually leave high school.
  • Your job does become your life. Figure out a way to keep them separate.
  • You impact lives. Real human beings and their well-being is at stake. Calling off, not caring and shortcutting affects lives. If you can’t accept that heavy responsibility, do not become a nurse.
  • Whatever you do, don’t dare think Hollywood’s definition of a nurse is accurate in any way, shape or form.
  • Don’t do this for the money. You’ll waste everyone’s time, and you’ll end up putting someone at risk for injury.
  • Contrary to what you may think, not everyone can actually DO this job. It’s not all pills, poop and plungers.

It’s a short list, but an important one. Would you every discourage someone from becoming a nurse? I’d love to hear why.

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8 Responses to Would you ever discourage someone from becoming a nurse?

  1. nwrn

    I agree nursing is not for the faint of heart. Thick skin, assertiveness, and a passion for helping people is necessary. So is an abundance of perseverance to deal with all the browbeating, perpetual change, and stereotyping. I have been a nurse for 10 years, and frankly, I am ready to be done. If someone asked me about choosing the nursing profession, I would strongly encourage them to map out their options should they find themselves unhappy with direct patient care. Nursing can be taken in so many directions to satisfy almost every personality. However, as we adopt nurses through immigration, I would share an extra word of caution and that is be prepared to stay in the same job description for more than 10 years, at the rate immigration is processing visas.
    I would also caution future nurses that the profession as a whole needs very strong leaders, nurses willing to ascend to executive level ranks. Nurses need to have a greater presence in the boardroom. Because of Nursing’s lack of representation in large numbers at this level, nurses have not had a clear voice in the same way physicians do.

    • THyattRN

      “-You impact lives. Real human beings and their well-being is at stake. Calling off, not caring and shortcutting affects lives. If you can’t accept that heavy responsibility, do not become a nurse.
      -Don’t do this for the money. You’ll waste everyone’s time, and you’ll end up putting someone at risk for injury.
      -Contrary to what you may think, not everyone can actually DO this job. It’s not all pills, poop and plungers.”

      These are the same feelings I have, especially the one about not doing it for the money and how it WILL put someone at risk for injury. There are a lot of people who should never become a nurse and a lot of nurses who should never have become one. Sad, but true.

  2. THyattRN

    Did not mean to post my comment as a reply to the above comment. :) Sorry!

  3. charly831

    when the new student asks ” you mean we have to work weekends?” , Then yes, maybe they should reconsider…lol

  4. ok would i discourage no and i can’t say more than sean has already dido

  5. MeriRN2010

    The list of issues is SO true. I get asked all the time about the profession of nursing and what it is like and if it is worth going into. I always tell people what it is really like and the list of warnings that Sean posted in his article, is pretty close to what I tell people. Definitely need that thick skin because you never know what you’ll see or who you’re working with that’ll turn around and stab you in the back or spread untrue gossip about you. It’s never worth it to discourage someone from joining the nursing field, but I always tell them start of as an aide first and see if you can handle that before deciding to go into nursing. It’ll teach you a lot and will help you become a better nurse and to treat your aides right when you do become a nurse. I started off as an aide and I feel that by doing so it has made me into the type of nurse I am now. I use my aides but I don’t make them my personal pets to do everything while I’m at work.

  6. cinlou

    I have been a nurse for 37 years and finally a little over a year ago transitioned to education, I completed my Masters in nursing education. I moved over with the plan to change things and to give back to new nurses all the wonderful things that had been given to me over the years. Have I had some crummy jobs, you bet, had I learned a tremendous amount you bet. Would I discourage some from being nurses, yes a few of those who do not know what nursing is all about. I am a director of an LPN and CNA program, I require my PN students to have their CNA as a pre req. The other day we had an ethics day. it started out fun with a compassionate walk where we set the students up with altered vision, decrease dexterity and sensation, use of ambulatory devices, and we treated them from the perspective of a bad nurse/CNA. We shoved unsugared apple sauce in there mouths with there medicines, we told them to do things they did not remember ever doing in their lives, and many more, unfortunate real situations. The day started with them filling out a card in which they wrote on it all the things that are the most important in their life. I wrote on the back of their card a scenario, real life scenarios I have experienced personally and as a critical care and trauma ER nurse. I handed out their cards to read them, I had one student that went running out of the room, others who refused to turn their card over and even read them. we talked about it for a little while and then the day ended with the you tube video of the train/bridge operator who had to make the choice between saving 100’s of people on a train or his own son, and that is how the day ended, very quiet, with one student asking what do I do now and I told her to go home and hug her family. The next day we had a debriefing, some were angry because they felt we made it too personal, others, thought it was too much in one day. and one student who had been a CNA for 10 years said she had not shed a tear in 10 years she was numb, but after that day she went home and cried and felt like a new person. I asked if we had of spoke about the situations as belonging to someone else would the effect benn the same and there was a resounding no. 37 years ago I went through some similar situations in school and I have never forgotten, and when it has been tucked in the back of my mind I remember my instructors say it is not why you become and nurse, but why do you continue to be a nurse. Wha the day too much, maybe, But I also told them there are days that are a rollercoaster of emotions and depending on the area you choose to work, your day may end with an unsuccessful pediatric code that leaves you feeling numb and wondering where do I go now. I go home and hug my family, and head back in the next day to work. I think I let them see the reality of the life and career they have chosen, anger is k, we all go through that with the infairness, but we also learn caring and compassion. And if we know these things are a reality and in reality can happen all the same day. Their compassion grows, or they will learn early on that this is not the place for them. I hope I can graduate quality, proficient, compassionate nurses who know nursing is a never ending learning opportunity. I would like to hear your opinions on this ethics day. Thank you

  7. Richard

    If you wear your heart on your sleeve, you will burn out. You have to learn to keep a distance from your patients that you provide care. I can recall clearly when I was a new grad, and I had followed a patient in the nursing home from admission to her passing (I still hate using the word expiration.. it’s so inhuman) And seeing her pass was something that is clear in my minds eye. I guess you can say that was my defining moment in nursing… and I am glad it came earlier than later.