I rushed about grabbing supplies to quickly remedy the distress my patient was displaying, and as I bent down to retrieve a dropped item I winced in pain. The searing shockwave that traveled through my neck reminded me of the apparent muscle I had pulled there, and I reminded myself I might have to take it easy today.
My weekend partner was out sick with a bad back, and he knew as well as I that taking it easy wasn’t always easy when patient care was involved. If a wobbly patient was about to hit the floor you simply reacted, and you thought about your back later. An hour later when you finally sat you’d notice the dull throb that radiated there, and you’d realize you had failed at “taking it easy.”
If you’ve spent any length of time in a single area of bedside nursing you’ll notice that nurses come and go. Sometimes they go a lot, and a lot at once, and you’ll hypothesize about what’s making them leave. And while there may be a particular problem or two that specifically comes to mind, in the end it comes down to this.
Nursing is hard.
Nursing is hard on your back. It’s hard on your neck. It’s hard on your calves, and especially your feet. Bedside nursing breaks your body down, and I share some of the same aches and pains as my dad who’s been working an assembly line for thirty years.
Nursing is hard because you run and run, you stretch yourself beyond your abilities, and when you can’t go any further, you just do. There’s no choice.
Nursing is hard because people living depends to a degree on you. If you mess up your job somebody dies. Just saying
Nursing is hard because the expectations are unrealistic, the workload is ridiculous, and the amount of knowledge required is insane. Insane.
Nursing is hard because sick people are rude, and their families are even more rude. Not all, by any means, but if we were talking percentages it would easily be 75% in favor of treating their nurse like a dog. True story.
Nursing is hard, and some days seem hardly worth it. On the days when you’re being pulled in a hundred directions, even a million dollars doesn’t seem a fair compensation. And when a patient is dying and you’re fighting to keep it from being so, you later wonder how much longer you can take the stress.
So whether you want to blame a body that is falling apart, a stress threshold that has exceeded max capacity, or wages that don’t meet your expectations, nurses are leaving.
Nurses are leaving their workspace in search of greener pastures, certain that the next fix will be the one. Certain that the next job will relight the dwindling flame of excitement once held. I wish them well, I really do. But as one who spent the first half of her career flitting here to there I can say this. Some places may be a little better than others, and some areas of nursing might suit you better than others, but they all have one thing in common.
Don’t get me wrong. I encourage you to find that area of nursing that you love. By all means. Just don’t assume that it will be easy. You’ll just end up disappointed, because basically, nursing is hard. No matter where you are.