Many a young nursing student has approached nursing school, or their online nursing program, with romantic notions about the nursing profession. Thanks to medical dramas on television, it’s easy to get some wrong impressions about the inspiring, dramatic, or romantic nature of work in the proverbial trenches of medicine. Before you commit to your nursing education, it’s worthwhile to pause a moment and reflect on these more accurate portrayals of your probably experiences as a nurse.
Dispensing medical care, as you’ve trained so hard to do, is only a portion of most nurses’ daily duties. More than many other medical professionals, nurses are often required to fulfill any number of other, decidedly unadvertised roles. Examples include everything from providing advice and lending a sympathetic ear, to playing the role of family counselor, to performing duties ordinarily done my housekeeping and/or wait staff.
You may be expected to quell fears, reassure frightened or distraught patients or family members, contribute to patient education, and perform many other tasks not spelled out in any job description. It keeps things interesting, but it’s not exactly always what you may have expected, based on your nursing school training. And, don’t forget the importance of being a team player. Be advised that a certain amount of flexibility on your part will serve you well.
Sharpen Your Memorization Skills
Going from RN to BSN, or attending a nursing school or online nursing program all require learning and memorization of facts, of course, but don’t imagine that your work is done once you graduate and pass your NCLEX exam. If anything, you’re just getting started. Nurses are required to learn, retain, and retrieve a constantly shifting constellation of bits of information. Whether it’s a patient’s name or his medications, their doses and dosing schedules, or details about lab results, personnel, staffing, etc. You’ve got to be able to think on your feet, and draw from rapidly-retrieved accurately-recalled information, more or less constantly.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Caring for terminal, or otherwise suffering, patients can take a mental toll. While many medical professionals develop at least a thin veneer of detachment, as an instinctual self-protective measure, it’s all but impossible—and probably not productive—to bury your emotions entirely. It’s okay to grieve occasionally. You’re a trained professional, but you’re also human. And keep in mind that medicine is not always about suffering. You will be rendering aid and comfort, and often patients recover and feel better. They also feel deeply grateful for your care. Accept their gratitude, and enjoy the joy that comes from doing important work well.