What Life Is Really Like For Nurses

Male NurseThings to consider before going into nursing

Nursing is a deeply gratifying profession, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. Early awareness of these difficulties is essential; the better prepared you are to deal with nursing’s unique hurdles, the better equipped you’ll be to embrace its many rewards.

Scheduling Struggles

The often envied nurses’ schedule is not nearly as idyllic as it may seem. Yes, nurses work just three days a week, but those are three long, grueling days. Shifts scheduled for twelve hours can turn longer as it’s not uncommon for nurses to put in overtime to finish their work or aid patients. Furthermore, short-staffed facilities regularly beg nurses to come in on their days off. Rotating holidays are common, so don’t be surprised if you have to skip an annual family gathering to care for patients. But there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that your care can salvage a suffering person’s holiday.

Physicality

A twelve-hour shift might not seem so bad to a typical office worker, but as a nurse, you’ll spend most of your time on your feet. Supportive footwear is non-negotiable, as you’ll rarely stop moving for more than a few minutes. Strenuous exertion is common, especially as you move equipment or reposition patients. The upside is that you’ll get plenty of exercises and escape many of the physical problems that accompany desk-bound office work.

Nursing Is Customer Service

Think of patients as customers, and your job will make a lot more sense. Unfortunately, like customers in a retail setting, patients’ demands can often be unreasonable — forcing you to negotiate between feasible and impossible requests, and demonstrating impeccable bedside manner. Some patients can be dread to deal with, but others take great satisfaction in the positive relationships they build.

Dealing With Death

Coping with death is an integral part of nursing. Each patient’s death impacts the nursing staff in a different way, and it’s impossible to know exactly how you’ll feel until it happens. Dealing with death so frequently is emotionally draining, but it can give you a more appreciative outlook on life. Spending some time developing your own personal support system to prepare for this inevitable aspect of the profession might be in order.

The Quest For Greater Compensation

Nursing wages vary considerably based on certification and work setting. The United State Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median annual wages of $43,170 for LPNs and $67,490 for RNs. Given the long hours and the grueling nature of the work, it’s not uncommon (or unreasonable) to feel underpaid. Keep in mind, however, that most nurses enjoy unusually extensive health care benefits and other financial perks. Additionally, there is always the opportunity for advancement. In seeking additional education and experience, nurses can move up to more lucrative positions such as nurse practitioner, which, according to the BLS, enjoyed median wages of $104,740 in 2015.

Every profession has its downsides, and nursing is no different. That being said, there’s nothing quite like the exultation experienced when saving lives; if you can handle the long hours and physical demands, nursing is a career worth pursuing.

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