What I Wish I’d Known in Nursing School

schoolThe work will be hard. I never knew just how hard the work would be. I always thought that if I lifted every bed to the highest position before making it, I would save my back. But last week, I twisted my knee. And the week before that, I hurt my shoulder. And who-knows-when I messed up my feet. The work we do is hard, and it’s difficult to find a nurse who has been in nursing any length of time that has managed not to hurt themselves in one way or another.

The emotional toll is heavy. I didn’t ever really think I would be the type of person to take work home with me. But when we have a bad outcome or a close call, regardless of why it happened, the emotional toll is heavy and long-lasting. I can still picture the face of every woman who ever had a stillbirth. I can still see the providers who cried from an unexpected event. It’s impossible to not take work home with us.

It will never be enough. No one ever told me that no matter how hard I try, no matter how much good work I do, it will never be good enough. Nursing is all about trying to be better, regardless of how well you’re doing. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, but it’s still something I never knew about. It can seriously be exhausting.

My family will suffer. I didn’t realize how much my family would suffer. But now that my daughter is about to enter middle-school, I realize how many hours I’ve spent at work in relation to how many hours I stayed at home. Although that couldn’t always be helped (it wasn’t like I was working for the hell of it), when you get the call at 5am begging you to help your teammates out, it’s hard to say no. And I can’t count how many times I was too tired to cook, too tired to do the dishes, too tired to—you get the picture. Thankfully, my family survived. But not everyone is as lucky.

I could lose everything over one bad mistake. One horrific event, or med error, or lack of judgement could strip me of my job, my license, and my livelihood. I think I always knew this, but I don’t think I knew how many chances there would be for me to screw up.

The learning never ends. School isn’t over when you get your degree. Nursing is constantly evolving, ever-changing, and you have to find a way to keep up or you could find yourself making a bad mistake.

Some people are just jerks. I honestly believed that every nurse had to love nursing the way I do. I really believed that patients would be baffled by the care I gave them. I never imagined a manager could be a bully. But now I know that some people are just a*&!*%##s.

My personal life will always be in question. I always knew I had to be mindful of mistakes made at work, but I didn’t realize that the scrutiny would spill into my personal life. Our entire life outside of work can be called into question, and this too has the ability to strip us of our license.

I’d really love nursing. I always thought I’d like my patients, but I never imagined I would/could love them the way that I do. And although some of my coworkers make me want to pull out my hair, I don’t know what I’d do without them, they’re like family to me now. I never knew that my love for nursing would run so deep.

Until my next delivery <3

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