Why Surviving in Nursing is Not Enough

Let’s face it. Nursing is not the most glamorous profession in the world. Nurses are probably the most comfortably dressed of all the professions (our uniforms replicate the comfort of our pajamas) but definitely not the most glamorous. It is really hard to be as glamorous as a profession when many nurses experience daily situations such as:

  • Being spit on by fellow human beings
  • Being a bit (No, not by sweet innocent children but adults)
  • Being confused with a lady of the evening by elderly dementia patients
  • Splashed in the face by bodily fluids
  • Being punched, slapped, choked and cursed at

Negative work experiences may prompt some nurses before the start of their shift to pray to a higher power “please let my patients and me survive the shift in one piece”. The longer you work in nursing, the more you realize that “just surviving” in nursing is not enough. Surviving in nursing does not result in job satisfaction or prevent nurse burnout.

Meanwhile, in other professions, people report the worst part of their day is their commute and dealing with a cranky boss. They simply can not relate to the work experiences of nurses. Initially, many non-healthcare workers might be shocked by the previously listed situations that are often experienced by nurses. However, they usually reply with a comment such as “These are the reasons that nurses make so much money”.

How did the public’s misconception about nursing=money get started? I love to quiz the general public about their beliefs concerning nurse’s pay. Their estimates are usually always almost double the pay that they receive in reality. The shock on their face is evident when I tell people what nurses really get paid. They often respond with “You went to college for four years and have student loan debt? I would never be a nurse for that amount of pay. Or, now I know why nurses are get burnt out and leave nursing. The nurses that stay in nursing must love it because their job is certainly not worth the money!”

However, not all nursing job experiences are negative. As the old saying goes “there are some things money can not buy”. There are great things about being a nurse that stands out in my mind. They are not all as dramatic as the experiences list above. Nevertheless, these experiences are truly beautiful in their simplicity and humanity. For example:

  • Nothing compares to witnessing the birth of a healthy baby
  • Watching a mother or father holding their infant for the first time
  • A simple thank-you from a patient that truly valued the care you gave them
  • Teaching patients (that are eager to learn) how to take care of their health
  • Relieving a person’s pain and making them as comfortable as possible
  • Holding and comforting a crying infant
  • Making a crying child smile through their tears

The key to thriving as a nurse is to work a job that allows you to continually encounter your own personal list of “nursing experiences” that are truly beautiful to you. Life is not perfect and neither is a job. However, you deserve to work in an environment where positive experiences far outnumber the negative ones. This might require a job or a role switch. Be sure and check out my article How a nurse can make a career change for more information about self-reflection and career change.

Or, maybe you can not found a job in nursing that measures up to your personal expectations or needs. Everyone is different. Maybe a traditional nursing job will not fulfill your needs. Some nurses are destined to become nurse entrepreneurs. This is option is not for everyone. Read Nurse Entrepreneurs- What fuels your fire to discover if you have the entrepreneurial spirit.

Curious about nurse entrepreneurship? Be sure to browse through my blog archives Nurse Entrepreneur Interviews and Entrepreneur Resources for information about nurse entrepreneurship.