Sometimes you hear people say things like “oh, I’ve always wanted to be a nurse…” or “I’m thinking of doing nursing”. Nursing is a bit like teaching in that it’s hard to know what it’s like until you actually do the job… Unfortunately, you can’t try the job until you have completed your training time.
So I guess it’s good to have some idea of what the job consists of before you throw your money into 3 or 4 years of study.
Basically, you really don’t want to waste several years of your life studying, only to find out you hate nursing! (it’s happened before)
Incidentally, while I was half way through my course I met a couple at a dinner function one night. After we introduced ourselves, and I said I was studying nursing, the girl pleaded with me to drop it, saying it was the worst decision she had made – in fact she quit the profession completely after just 2 months! Thanks to this lady, I questioned my decision to study nursing quite a few times! (Anyway, I’m pleased to say the girl didn’t deter me from finishing my study, and I found I got into nursing a bit more than she did when I finished!)
What sort of things do nurses do?
Day to day tasks vary a lot depending on where you work, but there are general skills that basically all nurses have:
- Nurses have to have very good social and people skills, time management skills, be good at thinking on their feet and be good with handling pressure and problems when they arise
- Nurses have to be good at teamwork and working with other allied health groups such as peers, doctors, physios, social workers, chaplains, radiographers, wardsmen, admin staff, meal crews and others
- Nurses have to have good organisation skills in order to formulate plans of care
- Nurses have to have a disposition which allows them to work in sometimes stressful, frantic or problematic environments without freaking out or losing their heads!
- Nurses have to have good analytical, problem solving and drug calculation skills
- Nurses have to cope with working all hours of the day/night, back to back or double shifts at times, or late/early situations where you survive on 3 or 4 hours sleep
- Nurses have to be good patient advocates and keep the ‘good of the patient’ in mind
- Nurses have to be able to take (and later give!) constructive criticism without falling to pieces or bursting into tears (actually this goes for all forms of criticism – you have to have a tough outer shell and be able to cop a bit of flack without letting it get you down)
- Nurses have to deal with things like blood, mucous, faeces, vomit and pus, as well as drunks, losers, creeps, verbally abuse people, physically abusive people (one time in my first year of nursing an old lady heartily SLAPPED my face without any warning after I walked into her room, got up close and said “good morning Mrs Sil… ” *WHACK!*) Also sometimes you have to face things like needle stick injuries, blood or body fluid splashes, and coming in contact with people who have communicable diseases.
I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture, the reality is that you have to have a certain personality to be good at the job and to enjoy it! So if you think you are a bit intrigued by it all, jump in and give it a go! What are you waiting for?!