The Truth About Nurses
Nurses are the lifeblood of the healthcare system – which, when you think about it, is rather fitting. Most patients will see far more nurses than they will doctors. Nurses are responsible for the basics of healthcare, for monitoring signs of ill health or progression of illness, as well as providing essential treatment for a range of conditions.
Most of us have an experience of a nurse, at least at primary care level. If you’ve ever had a hospital stay, then you’ve definitely experienced a nurse’s care. Given the important role that nurses play in the life of the healthcare system – and our lives in total as a result – it’s worth thinking about what they face on a daily basis. What is life like for a nurse – and why should all patients learn a little about the realities they face?
Understanding Nurses Makes For Better Patients
It’s unfortunate, but it would be trivializing the issue to ignore the attitude that is prevalent amongst certain people in society: nurses are looked down upon. To some bigoted points of view, nurses are people who just couldn’t train to be a doctor.
Let’s bust this myth once and for all. While they seem similar, there is a huge difference in life as a nurse and life as a doctor. Someone may have been drawn to the nursing side but would have no time for being a doctor; it’s a case of choice, not that they “couldn’t make it as a doctor”. They prefer to be a nurse.
Why Do Some People Prefer To Be A Nurse Rather Than Being A Doctor?
Nurses spend far more time with patients than doctors do, which for some is the sole reason they wanted to get into a healthcare career. Doctors are spending more time reading charts rather than talking to patients, which is inevitable in an understaffed healthcare system.
That means being a doctor could deny a person the human interaction that was important to them when they considered this career path. As a result, nursing is a far better choice for them.
Training to be a doctor is extremely expensive. Inevitably, this means that it’s just not a viable choice for some people, especially those from low-income backgrounds.The work-life balance for doctors is generally poor. For some nurses, they prioritize the need to spend time with their family and enjoy other things in life outside of their careers. That’s a valid choice.
It’s also worth considering the fact that training to be a nurse can be deeply involved and educationally exciting. It’s not an easy option by any stretch of the imagination. Some nurses will choose to expand on their initial knowledge and undertake an online RN BSN program to further develop their skills. So the job can be mentally stimulating, gives more time for person-to-person caring, and affords the nurse themselves a decent standard of living.
Yet even in a society that is able to acknowledge all of the above…
Nurses Deserve More Respect Than They Get
Given the vital role that they provide, it’s shocking to realize just how commonplace violence against nurses is. That’s just physical violence, too – many nurses will have more than a few stories about difficult interactions with patients on an emotional level.
There are a number of reasons why this happens. Some patients will always be difficult and would be venting out their frustrations on anyone. It’s just unfortunate that it’s nurses who tend to be easier to find and shout at than doctors are.
One of the biggest problems that nurses face is that patients don’t take them seriously. Patients don’t listen to their advice or agree with the treatment offered to them. There is something in some people’s minds that is sure that “nurse” means “inferior to a doctor”. So patients will insist on seeing a doctor for the little things, even though a nurse is far better equipped to advise them.
The next time you’re unwell, it’s worth remembering how much work nurses have put achieving their status.
Working Life For Nurses
So we’ve covered the downside of the nursing profession; a downside that likely exists because many of us just don’t understand what nurses actually do. We see them making basic observations and we think that’s the limit of their skills when it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg.
Firstly, it’s important to recognize that the majority of nurses work extremely long hours. Their shifts can be brutal in length, and even when off-shift there is always the chance they will be called in to cover for someone.
When a nurse is on shift, they will be asked to do all manner of different tasks. Some of this will involve patient care, but there is also a fair amount of paperwork involved. Often it falls to nurses to track down test results, arrange scans, and put into place the motions for a hospital transfer. While nurses do spend more time with patients than doctors, they will also spend a lot of their time taking care of other tasks.
It’s also worth acknowledging that a lot of nurses’ work is extremely physical. Many nurses develop back problems due to the amount they need to stand all day. Rest breaks are rare, with most nurses having to grab food on the run rather than take time to sit and eat at their leisure.
Why Is Knowing This Important?
Sometimes, we can have ideas about what a job is like – ideas that, in reality, actually couldn’t be further from the truth.
When we’re unwell, few of us are feeling at our most friendly and personable. If something doesn’t go as we expect, then we might be tempted to express our frustration to the nearest available person. Much of the time – due to the nature of their role – it will be a nurse who is on the receiving end of this.
If, however, you learn about what nurses have to deal with and why they should be respected, then we might all make for better patients. That means better treatment for us and a better life for the nurses – everybody wins.