“Nursing is a great field, you’ll always have a job and can work in a variety of settings”. At least that’s what I was told and part of the reason I chose nursing as a career. Well that, and I wanted to help people, which is why I think that most nurses choose this field as a career.
What we were also told is that the prospects of the job are good (they are, especially with the baby boomers retiring), the job pays well (it does), and you have amazing job stability (that is, up until the pandemic hit). Not to mention, good prospects for advancement and tuition reimbursement in many jobs, it absolutely felt like a good fit for what I imagined my career being.
While all of this might be true, there are many things they don’t tell you about the nursing field. Well, some things I didn’t have to be told, but rather learned through the school of hard knocks out there in the field. If you are considering nursing as a career, or you are a nurse wondering if you should change careers, then read on.
Dealing with Doctors
Doctors are jerks. Okay, so they do warn you a bit about this in nursing school. And it’s not every doctor either. However, in my experience (and in the opinion of many other nurses I know), this is the case. For example, if you give an ordered medication and the dose is too high, that falls on your license, not the doctor’s. But, it’s also well known that doctors have terrible handwriting (yes, many orders still come that way).
There’s also the fact that many doctors do not like to be disturbed. Therefore, when you call to clarify their orders, many will act annoyed, treat you like an idiot, yell (or even swear at you), or just hang up on you. Many doctors struggle with a god complex and will often treat you like you’re incompetent for questioning them. Yea, real professional for someone whose butt you’re trying to cover. Again, not all doctors are like this, and in fact, there are some real gems out there, but they’re few and far between.
It’s a high burnout job. Nursing is great in some ways, but in other ways, it’s a very stressful, difficult job. Some nurses work long hours (think double 8-12 hour shifts) and days in a row. I’ve always wondered why truckers have such strict limits on how long they can drive, but there is often little to no restrictions for healthcare professionals working so long.
Add on top of this the doctors who can be jerks, and patients (or their families) who can be difficult. You’re also responsible for so many things including medication administration, admissions and discharges, assessments, charting, and in some cases, personal cares as well. Many shifts you don’t get a break to pee, let alone eat. Many of the nurses I went to school with don’t work as nurses anymore as they’ve decided that the stress they went through was too much and not worth it.
Not Very Holistic
Nursing is not as holistic as they’d like you to believe. In nursing school, we are often taught to look at the whole person (and their family) as we treat them. We’re taught to consider psychological aspects of diseases, treatments, and medications. We’re taught to be advocates and speak up for our patients.
Reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many times I felt like a glorified pill passer. There’s often little time to spend with your patients because of the charting that’s required. Many doctors look at (or treat you) like you’ve grown a third eyeball if you suggest something alternative or holistic for your patient. And some will straight out laugh at you – yup, had this happen a time or two! Although I will say in the last 10 years or so that the medical field has been more open to alternative options, there’s still a LONG way to go.
The Healthcare System is Broken
The “Healthcare System” is broken. Our current medical model of care in the US is terrible. We rank (last I checked) 37th in overall health among developed nations, even though we pay more per-capita for healthcare than any nation in the world. We have the highest day 1 infant mortality rate among developed nations (more on that here). And we have the first generation that is not expected to outlive the previous generation for the first time in decades. We have children who struggle with allergies, eczema, upper respiratory infections, neurological disorders, and obesity. For all the “advances” in modern medicine, we sure aren’t seeing a bang for our buck.
Add into that insurance programs and pharmaceutical companies sticking their greedy fingers into everything, the system is just that. It’s a system that’s designed for profit, and you’re just a cog in their wheel. They don’t care about their patients or their employees.
All that to say, when you’re working on the floor day in, and day out, and you see this broken system at work, it’s disheartening and demoralizing. When you no longer believe in what you are doing, and you see the actual psychological (and sometimes physical) harm from what you are being directed to do, it really takes a toll on you.
Add into that the ridiculous mandates that people are being forced into, and it truly is not the amazing and fulfilling profession that many nurses of the past were able to experience. If you’re looking for an alternative nursing career, or an alternative to going to nursing school, see this post about whether you should pivot or quit your nursing career.
If you need help in figuring out how you can best use your skill set, or how to get things going for your own business, be sure to schedule a Power Hour Coaching Session with me!