So obviously, as a nursing student, I want to know what school isn't teaching me. Sure, I know that school is supposed to prepare me to be a nurse, but come on, everyone knows life is different than textbook.
What's the best way to find out what it's like being a nurse before I'm actually a nurse?
So I did, and I'm going to share her answer with all of you!
So, you want to be a Nurse? An RN you say? What a wonderful career you are about to begin. Being present with people in their most critical hour, providing care, and dignity to the sick is quite an honor. You build the most sacred of bonds with people, a bond that only a nurse can have with her patient. Yes, you are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, filled with pride, and cherished moments. Nursing school is just the beginning, and what an exciting time this is going to be for you.
My name is Sarah, and I’m a Registered Nurse, and I’m also a new grad. I work in a small community hospital in an inland community of California and my specialty is Oncology. It’s only been about six months for me, but what a crazy whirlwind that has been. I have learned more in six months on the floor than I did in the two years of nursing school. You see, there’s the stuff you learn to pass the NCLEX, and then, there’s the real world. I’m a nurse in the real world.
What they don’t tell you in nursing school is that your first job is going to be hard. It’s going to be emotional, and you will cry, you will begin to feel anxious, and you will feel like nothing you learned in school applies at all except maybe the ABCs. Don’t quit. Stick with it. This is normal. You might become a victim of nurse bullying, and from experience, I can tell you that’s extremely difficult. This is nor normal.
I remember one particular incident where toward the end of my shift I helped a patient to the restroom. I noticed a little red blood in the toilet, and she mentioned her rectum was painful. I took a look, and it was just a little hemorrhoid that was raw and bleeding. Not a lot of blood, and nothing to be concerned about. I mentioned it to the nurse I was endorsing the patient over to at the end of my shift, and right there in the hallway she let me have it. Her opinion on the matter was that I should have called the MD right away because it’s considered a blood loss, and any blood loss should be reported. A little extreme?
Yes, I think so. However, that isn’t what got me. What got me was that everyone was staring at me, like I was an idiot. Nurses, doctors, patients; all eyes on me. My charge nurse had to step in and tell her that was enough, and to knock it off. Later my charge took me aside and told me that I did nothing wrong, and not to let any nurses ever talk to me like that. I still went home crying. The whole forty-five minute drive home, I cried. I cried when I got home, taking a shower, and to sleep. The next day was my day off, I had three days off to recover from the horrible incident. On the third day, I was in the grocery store parking lot and I called my husband, crying, that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be a nurse. I didn’t want to go back to work, and I was depressed. I wasn’t happy. Being a nurse wasn’t what I thought it was supposed to be and that I was sorry for wasting all that money on tuition for something I hated.
I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m still here, head above water, and proud of the care that I provide to my patients. Just this past week, I received a gift. It was my first gift from a patient’s family. It was accompanied by a card that read “Thank You SO much for your extra care and support. You have really gone above and beyond your normal duties”, again, I cried. This time for good reason though. I was touched that someone appreciated me so much as to bring me a potted plant and a little card. I have the plant in my kitchen, and I think of that patient every day now. I always said, if I can make a difference in one patient’s life, then I’m happy. That card, is proof that I not only made a difference to one patient but, to the family as well. Proud moment for me.
What they don’t tell you in nursing school is that you need to have thick skin, you are going to be stressed out, and over worked and some days you are going to sit around and wonder why you ever wanted to be a nurse to begin with. What they also don’t tell you is that every once and a while, you will encounter an experience that will make all those bad moments worth it, and that’s when you realize “This is why I became a nurse”.
Thanks Sarah! I sure do hope that I have more "this is why I become a nurse" moments than "oh hell, why did I do this to myself?" moments!