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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.