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10 Truths About Nurses That Might Disappoint You

10 Truths About Nurses That Might Disappoint You

No one particularly enjoys spending time within hospitals. Usually, they’re places designed for a sole purpose: to get you better, in both physical and mental health. This doesn”t always translate into the most friendly or welcoming places. After all, you’re not supposed to enjoy being in hospital too much. The hospital is a means to an end, and a service you should hope to avoid as much as possible.

Nurses are the unofficial and official backbone of any hospital. They deal with everything from providing comfort, to supplying medication, to saving lives, to dealing out news – both good and bad. Nurses are often underpaid, underfunded, under-appreciated, and out of the public eye, so it can be hard to actually consider that they have some uncomfortable truths about the reality of their lives and about the true nature of their jobs.

So if you’re looking for some insight into just how nurses really feel and think (some of them at least), then check out our insider’s guide to some disappointing truths that nurses might be hiding from you.

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1 Your feet are always killing you.

It’s just one of those things. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting down and trying to fill out some paperwork, or moving non-stop from one patient to another, your feet will be aching as you move. When you finally get home and rest your feet, the pain can be cripplingly bad. Thank God for orthopedic shoe inserts and foot spas.

2. You know that sometimes there are no winners.

There are very few perfect shifts – shifts where everyone is feeling better, where no one is in pain, where no one dies. A nurse is likely to have a dozen or so in our career. Therefore, one of the fundamental truths of care is driven home: not everyone wins, and sometimes no one wins in the game of life.

3. You don’t spend too much time with doctors.

Everyone seems to think that nurses and doctors spend every hour of their shifts working closely together. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Doctors have their own huge swathes of work to complete, and nurses do too. Sometimes we run completely interdependently of one another, despite working on the same people and patients.

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4. Your sleep cycle is far from perfect.

If you work night shifts, this is especially prevalent. You start to sleep during the daytime and realize that you do most of your shopping either online or very early in the morning before you go to bed. Despite research that doing this for too long for too many years can actually shorten your lifespan, it keeps on happening for long periods of time.

5. Your life is not Grey’s Anatomy

Believe this. The kind of drama nurses experience is very far from the over-the-top romances and daring plots on television. Most of our drama actually comes from dealing with belligerent patients or family members, trying to juggle long shifts with the rest of our lives, and whether or not you have enough time to actually take a second to breathe, which leads us into…

6. You rarely get actual breaks.

Yeah, actual mandated breaks only happen occasionally. Usually, nurses are too busy actually getting stuff done to take their mandated fifteen minutes for a sandwich, a drink, or a chance to catch your breath. Your body gets used to it – whether or not it should have to is another matter.

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7. You sometimes spend too much time on paperwork than on patients.

The common view of nurses is that we spend most of our time rushing about, saving the lives of patients and tending to their every need. Nowadays, we spend most of our time on paperwork, working hard on the arduous task of completing every piece of paper that we need for our jobs. While paperwork can never trump the needs of patients, more and more demands are being placed on the shoulders of nurses. This means that our pens might get more action on a shift than our syringes.

8. You know that life is short and fleeting.

This isn’t an uncomfortable truth per se, rather it is one that doesn’t get addressed enough in society with any meaning. Nurses see the nitty-gritty, blood, sweat, and tears reality of human existence all boiled down from beginning to end. We know that life isn’t glossed-over or perfect, that not everyone gets resolution or a happy ending, or even a peaceful dignified death. We know that life is short – and you should live to its fullest because of this, not despite this.

9. You ignore your own health issues more than you should.

Pretty bad, but us nurses sometimes ignore our own niggling health issues because we simply don’t have the time to go and get things checked out properly. We’ve seen things from both sides of the healthcare system, as both patient and practitioner, and we might be discouraged by experiences we’ve had to help patients endure.

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10. You might – sometimes – want to discourage people from becoming nurses themselves.

It’s not something a nurse might exactly advertise, but sometimes when we’ve had an awful shift, or we’re feeling particularly down in the world, we want nothing more but to dissuade people from becoming a nurse themselves. The hours are long, and the pay is underwhelming. We deal with people who are scared, upset, angry, mean, and who are a hairs-breadth away from lashing out at us as their first point of contact in a place very few people actually want to be.

Conclusion

It’s not surprising; therefore, that sometimes nurses want to quit everything, and get to a job where we don’t have to deal with the grating minutiae of being someone whose purpose is to provide relief and care all the time. However, we usually don’t. This might be because being a nurse is a selfless vocation. Nurses might not earn a lot of money, or fame, or prestige, but we reap innumerable benefits in positive feeling, in seeing the people whom we help return to health, in knowing that we’re contributing to the world, one person at a time.

So, yes, nurses might sometimes discourage people from becoming nurses themselves – but certainly not all the time. After all, nobody’s perfect.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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