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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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