Nurses are so often taken for granted as "just" the people assisting the real doctors in their work. But nursing is actually an incredibly difficult and taxing job, one filled with quiet heroes. Here are just 8 of the many reasons why nursing attracts the toughest and most dedicated people to the profession.
1. It's a matter of life and death.
As a nurse, you literally (and routinely) hold people’s lives in your hands. How many other jobs have that same awesome responsibility?
2. You need endless knowledge.
There are so very many medical terms you must be familiar with to be a nurse. And it’s not just the terminology. You also have to hold an enormous amount of information in your head, or risk dangerous consequences: doctors’ orders, patients vitals and other data, etc. You also have to keep up with trends, do continuing education, and push yourself to keep learning so you don’t fall behind the cutting edge.
3. You are surrounded by people in their lowest moments.
It’s unbelievably difficult to watch another human being suffer—let alone pass away. You may think nurses get used to both these things; they don’t. They become very adept at doing their job in the face of suffering and loss, but that doesn’t mean a nurse isn’t affected.
4. You come last.
As a nurse, you have to put almost everyone’s needs before your own: doctors, patients, even putting your job ahead of your family time when your schedule requires. You have to smile, be endlessly patient, be empathetic, but take care not to get too attached. You might even have to eat breakfast while commuting—because it might just be the only meal you get all day.
5. You don’t get paid enough.
Even though nursing is a field in which it’s always possible to take on extra shifts or opportunities, you probably are not getting compensated at a truly fair rate for all you do. You don’t get holidays. You miss out on lots of your family and social life opportunities, particularly when things run late or you’re on call. A lot of hospitals are also now cutting back on hiring and instead having their nurses work extra overtime. It can be pretty thankless!
6. You rarely get the respect you deserve.
As a nurse, particularly since it’s a predominantly female profession, you get less respect than you deserve. Nursing is constantly devalued compared to more predominantly male professions. You do a huge share of the work in the care situation, and get almost none of the credit. And you have to be caring and compassionate in the face of occasional maltreatment, disrespect, and outright rudeness.
7. It's very strenuous.
The taxing hours worked, the being on your feet constantly, all these things add up to being sore and tired almost all of the time. Nurses also do a huge amount of heavy lifting and often develop back problems.
8. Everyone’s a patient.
As a nurse, you’re guaranteed to be bombarded with texts and photos of all your friends’ and family’s ailments asking you for free medical advice. It will be difficult to figure out where to draw the line in your off hours.
Don't be discouraged, though—nursing is a profession that needs heroes, and if you're drawn to it, you can change lives. The good outweighs the bad, if you're willing to muddle through it to get to the rewarding parts!