Why Being a Nurse Sucks Sometimes

When I got out of your school, I thought I was going to conquer the world as a new nurse. I’ve been doing it for a years, and the only thing I know for sure at the end of it all is being a nurse sucks. And here are a couple of reasons why. 

You don’t know what you don’t know until you don’t know it 

What I mean by this is, when you graduate nursing school, you go out into the world all bright and shiny, thinking that school has equipped you with everything you could possibly need to succeed as a nurse. This is vastly untrue. 

Being a new nurse probably sucks worst of all.

School teaches you almost NOTHING about being a nurse.

If you had a preceptor in nursing school worth their salt, they would have also told you (lovingly) the same thing.  He or she would have told you that there is a “text book way of doing things” and a “real world way of doing things”. 

If he or she did not arm you with that knowledge, I’m sorry. The world of nursing in the real world is full of “here’s how they didn’t teach you to do it in nursing school”.

Another reason I say “you don’t know what you don’t know until you don’t know it”  is because a lot of nurses, both new and old, do not like to use the phrase,”I don’t know” . 

I’m not sure why this is. I’m a huge fan of I don’t know, because not admitting that you don’t know something and pretending like you do is the fastest way to get your patient injured, or God forbid killed. 

If you are working somewhere and you either A. have a know-it-all nurse that is wrong more often than not or B. are stuck in an environment where you feel like you cannot ask a question or say I don’t know, you need to find a new job like yesterday. That’s a danger is that you DO NOT need to put yourself in, especially if you’re a new nurse. 

Watch your own back, because no one else is going to. 

It didn’t take me long as a new nurse to realize that people RARELY have your back. Be it the coworkers you think you can trust, people in other departments and your “bosses”, no one is exempt.

Speaking on admins

I have worked in a couple of different atmospheres since obtaining my nursing degree, and I can tell you, the difference between administration that has your back and those that don’t is ridiculous. 

When you don’t feel like administration has your back, nurses do not feel like they can voice unsafe nursing practice, go to their upper levels about complaints and/or other administration. This is especially true if your hospital’s administration is on a” buddy system” , where every administrator is friends with every other administrator, especially friends outside of work. 

I’m not saying canceling that administrators cannot be friends outside of work. I’m just saying that there has to be a line that is not crossed with regards to your employees. 

Speaking of coworkers and other departments

You may have a rare instance where you truly have people in your organization you can trust.  If this happens, treat them like GOLD, because most people will throw you under the bus and then watch it continue to run you over.

 The patients, the patients, the patients

As I previously mentioned, I’ve worked in several different areas of nursing since I obtained my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I worked in emergency departments, surgery suites, oncology offices. There is one thing that I can tell you that does not change from atmosphere to atmosphere.

If the patients are emotionally and verbally abusive day in and day out, and administration refuses to have your back (another reason number 2 is important), it is incredibly difficult to make it as a nurse. I worked as a nurse for over 5 years in the emergency department before I got completely burnt out and had to change jobs. A LOT of it was patient related (but not all).

There aren’t many good old nurses left

We had a period in the first ER that I worked in where we lost, like, 200 years of nursing experience in a month.  The old nurses went elsewhere, leaving those of us who were green around the gills (it’s me, I’m “those of us”) to fend for ourselves in one of the WORST places to learn as a nurse.

Most of it was administrative (see AGAIN number 2), and I don’t blame those that left.

However, not having experience in your department is dangerous, regardless of where you work.  If you have an older nurse (a nurse with over 1 years experience, but the more experience the better), treat them good because they will teach you things no textbook ever will.

Being a nurse does not mean you need to work anywhere you want.

Being an new nurse in the ER sucks a lot for most people.

If you are a new nurse, you probably don’t need to work in the ER. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Being a nurse sucks at it leads to burnout.

Burnout is real.

Even though I’m back in the emergency department now, it won’t be forever. I am doing what I have to do to get out of nursing altogether, because the burnout is real, and it’s not going away. 

Burnout is a real thing. It happens to good nurses all the time.  You never know when or where it’s going to happen, but you know as soon as it does. 

I sometimes like to try to persuade or convince myself that it’s not burnout, that I just need to find my “nursing niche”. I’ve worked lots of places, and none of them have been my “niche” yet. 

There are days when I will admit with my 1st breath that I am a burnt out, crotchety nurse. Then there are other days when I swear nursing is the only thing I wanna do, and it fulfills me like nothing else. 

I’m not sure how I feel about it today, because I’m off work and I don’t have to think about being a nurse. Ask me again when I go back to work in 2 days. 

They will work you like a dog and not think twice about it

This is probably one of the biggest reason for burn out.  I have nurses that I work with that work 60 hours a week. That’s 5 TWELVE HOUR SHIFTS.  What is the name of all things?!?!?!?!

I work 24-36 hours a week.  No more EVER. I understand some people cannot survive on such a limited biweekly paycheck (or choose not to). However…………

Your job, regardless of where you work, does not care about you.  You are there to do a job. If you don’t take your vacation days, they won’t make you.

If you work yourself to death, your organization will have your job posted before you’re even buried in the ground.  Remember that.

All in all, I have a love-hate relationship with being a nurse. It’s mostly hate, but every once in a while it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Do you think being a nurse sucks sometimes? Drop a comment and let me know.

You can also check out my other nursing rants and stories about nursing here.

Why Being a Nurse Sucks Sometimes

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