The Effects of Nursing on Nurses

Hi, welcome to my blog post. I have never had a blog post get more than 50 comments, so I am a bit overwhelmed. After responding to many comments, here is a note:

Note: I wrote this blog entry at the end of my 3rd 12 hour shift in three days. I was tired and I was emotional. It is a blog post, not an “article.” It is not researched or sourced, it is purely opinion.

The point of this post is that nurses (and many other professions) need to take the time to practice self care and to encourage one another to practice self care.

My biggest mistake in this post (and there are many) was to use “her” or “she” when I should have used “they” or them.” I ignored my male coworkers, and I should not have. You have my apologies, and I have corrected the post. I have left “she” and “her” in place in the portion where I talk about my coworker.

I have read every comment posted and deleted some very nasty comments that were not helpful to conversation. If you feel this is the place to spew your vitriol, it is not.


August 11, 2013

This morning, while I was giving report to the day shift nurse taking over my patients, she burst into tears.

She’s going to miss her children’s hockey play offs due to our strictly enforced every other weekend schedules. You work every other weekend, no more, no less, unless you are going to college (I work every weekend because I’m in college). She’s their hockey coach, and inevitably, each year, their last game falls on a day their mother has to work. I’ve come in early for her before.

So I offered to come in on my night off for an hour and a half so she could get to the game. I’m coming in that early because I know she won’t be done charting.

She turned me down until another day RN got involved. I reminded my coworker I only live a mile from the hospital, and it really wasn’t a big sacrifice for me. She finally agreed, and calmed down. We got permission from the charge nurse.

Nursing is one of the largest professions in the world. If you don’t know a nurse, I’m really surprised. Nurses talk a lot about the rewards of nursing. Catching that vital sign, saving lives, providing comfort, but nurses, by nature, are taught to martyr themselves on the altar of nursing.

When I was a new grad, I hated coming to work so much that I would wish I’d get hit by a car on my way to work just to get out of work. One night, while checking medication sheets, I confessed this to some experienced nurses and found out some of them still felt the same way.

In nursing, it is NORMAL to have days where you wake up and just can’t mentally and emotionally face the day at work. I swear, the only other people who can understand this are nurses.

Nursing is emotionally, physically and mentally taxing, and some days you run too low on what you can give emotionally, physically and mentally. That minor back injury you don’t want to report to HR because you don’t want it on your record. Having a patient with constant diarrhea who can’t get out of bed and needs to be physically rolled and cleaned several times an hour. The cold you got from the two-year old someone brought in. The sorrow that comes from supporting someone who has just found out they were dying, holding in your own tears so you could wipe theirs. In one day, all of those patients could be yours.

I don’t know a nurse who hasn’t taken a mental health day. Some do it by requesting more vacation than others. Some do it by calling in sick, but it’s all time off because we are too drained to give anymore.

So if you know a nurse, and that nurse mentions to you that they feel like calling in because they just can’t take it another day, don’t give them a hard time. Especially if you have an 8-5 job with weekends off or some other really great schedule. The 12 hour shifts nurses work mean we miss the entire holiday we work with our families. Night shift nurses have to choose between holiday dinners or sleep. Often, if a nurse chooses to sleep rather than go to the holiday dinner, guilt ensues. Even though I’ve told my mother-in-law repeatedly that every nurse has to work holidays, she makes a point to say how horrible it is my husband has to be alone for a few hours. What about me? Working my ass off while everyone else celebrates?

We work hard. We are intentionally understaffed by our hospitals to improve profit, even if the hospital is a non-profit. We help people at the worst times of their lives, and often have no way to debrief, to get it off our chests. We don’t just bring warm blankets and pills. We are college educated, degreed professionals who are often treated like uneducated, lazy servants. We get sexually harassed by our patients. We get groped, punched, cut, I even know of a nurse on my floor being strangled (she survived).

Nursing can be rewarding. But nursing is a fucking hard job. If you are afraid of healthcare rationing, you should know it is already happening. Nurses are unable to give everyone the care they need, so patients with smaller problems may not get the same level of care. A nurse may be pressed to only give the minimum amount of care to a patient if they have 5 or more very sick patients. If you don’t want healthcare rationing, talk to your local hospitals about their nurse to patient ratios. Talk to your doctors. If you hear of legislation to support nurse to patient ratios, vote for it. Support it.

So if a nurse needs a day off, you support them. If you’re in a position to help like I was this morning, do so. If you are a nurse, go easier on yourself when you think about the things you didn’t finish, or the things you should have said. It’s a 24-hour a day job and you don’t have to do it alone.

As of January 27, 2014, this post is no longer accepting comments. I am doing this as a practice of self care. Tending to this blog post, several times a day, has become a burden. It has had over 2 million hits, and I am tired. The post has become a platform for people who want to propel their own agendas and are using my space to do so.  Thanks to all who said such nice things, and to everyone else, go write your own blog.

About Grimalkin, RN

Trying really hard to be a decent person. Registered Nurse. Intersectional Feminism. Poet. Cat. Political. Original recipes. Original Stories. Occasionally Questionable Judgement. Creator of #cookingwithjoanne and #stopcock. Soulless Unwashed Carrot. This blog is dedicated to my grandmother, my beloved cat Grimalkin, and my patients.

Posted on August 11, 2013, in Nursing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2,612 Comments.

  1. I worked as an RN for almost 30 yrs and sad to say that only in my nursing career have I learned to say all these F word…,S,SOB words. There’s just too many frustrations in nursing that you can’t help but say this words!!! Eventually, I quit my job so abruptly out of frustration..not being appreciated and disrespected by your higher ups after a hard nights work just did it for me!!! I still have nightmares sometimes about work…waking up saying “I’m so glad it wasn’t real”.

    • I got written up and disciplined for blurbing out ‘oh they are just being assholes again’ when I asked ER nurse to wait until I finish getting report on one of the patients before she gives me report in the very beginning of the shift. She went off on a rant that she’s had a hard day and is now leaving and I’m lucky she even called me otherwise I can look up all the patient’s info in the computer, that’s when my blurb slipped out. I was frustrated because I just came in 5 minutes ago, was in the middle of report from one of the three nurses and just angry about not having even a little time to look up patient’s basic information like communicable diseases or admitting diagnosis because once there were four people assisting me with a screaming woman who came up from ER without so much as a notice turned out she had MRSA and we were all handling her without isolation because her needs were more important then taking the time to learn about the patient. I now have this disease that I got from the patient and will have it for the rest of my life, so yes I was mad. In my hospital management will tolerate the oddest things, but ‘asshole’ will be taken to the highest authority. Turned out ER nurse who did not have a few minutes to give me a report found she did have a few minutes to stay and write an incident report about ‘asshole’. OMG really? Like an idiot I used to take assignments that other nurses would refuse, help others, answer other patients’ call light only because I feel we are all in this together. Turns out those lazy ones love when I’m working because that means they don’t have to since I can’t walk by seeing patient almost falling out of bed and not help, and when calling an actual nurse who takes care of that patient tell me that I’m there so I should take care of it while my own patient is waiting for me to get off the bedpan, another screaming for pain medicine, while another petient’s family members are inside this patient’s room trying to get me back to their relative’s room. I mean realy? I’m only one person, and just because I have a consience and a spirit of a team player doesn’t mean most of them can dump on me. That’s why I get so burned out. If anywhere in this country there were a supportive environment where techs wouldn’t wait for you in a parking lot because you called on them too many times, or charge nurses would support you instead of looking for things you did wrong, God forbid you didn’t chart by 3 hours into your shift and every 2 hours thereafter. God forbid you clock out late or clock in late which is even worse. But by all means, work 16 hour shift even if you have another 12 hours waiting for you the next day without any kind of appreciation. One time I stayed 17 hours because our charge nurse said that nobody is coming to relieve me and if I leave it would be abandoning my post. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get paid on any time over 16 hours because it’s illegal or something, apparently there must be an 8 hour break in between shits. It’s like a lunch sign in sheet. You have to sign it or you get fired, now taking lunch actually is another story. I don’t know how some nurses go to breakfast, lunch and a bunch of breaks in between, because sometimes I don’t even have time to pee or cry when my patient dies. I just wish those high up like charge nurses would remember what it was like actually working like we do, and instead of policing they would ask if we need any help, and instead of writing us up when we do ask for help for not completing certain things in a timely manner, they would actually put patient care first and do something productive that doesn’t involve a red pen. I love teaching patients, I love explaining to them all about the disease, their medication, teaching them to do injections or dressing changes at home, but it’s hard when you’re being yanked in the middle of what you’re doing by doctors, social workers, transportation, dietary, charge nurse, charting police, cleaning personnels, techs, and other nurses constantly it’s so draining. I guess it’s sensory overstimulation, which would be bearable in a supportive environment. It is my prayer that I find my niche. Don’t tell me to quit, some of the most difficult patients have written to management about me to their surprize that I am one of the best in the profession. I love codes, ICU (whenever I would get pulled to work there), teaching, computers, problem solving. I just wish I knew where I could find a good fit. That’s my rant. Happy New Year and God bless!

      • thank you for sharing-I have been where you have been and felt the way you have felt many, many times. I don’t get nursing- I guess and never will. The expectations are ENDLESS-barely doable on most days -especially in hospital nursing. This blog has been a godsend in many ways for me to read from like minded men and women.

  2. Im not a nurse however ive recently had major surgery and spent a week in hospital. Ive never spent much time in hospitals nor do I even like going there. I do have to say that every single nurse I was in care of was amazing! They are more like guardian angels and should be recongnised and paid as much as doctors!! I cant beleive how much they have to put up with from patients peeing and crapping themselves in the middle of the night and cleaning them up with no compaining, to being vomited on, patients cracking onto them and to being called effing useless by patients that really have no clue. In only one week I witnessed so many different situatuions as ive listed above. There is absolutely no way that I could possibly be a nurse (im quite a sympathetic and a caring person however I just couldnt do what nurses do and put up with.) My hats off to nurses everywhere.

  3. That is so true but in africa its worse pple need to appreciate n value nurses more. Thank you gor ur blog… its about time

  4. You know Jack, I have to wonder what your real name is. Maybe I should look you up to see if you really are a nurse. If you really have been a nurse for 22 years, then you would have been able to relate to what I was saying.
    If you can’t relate to anything that I said after 22 years in the profession, then you either work in a bubble or you are not a nurse at all.
    However, I am never anything less than professional. I have learned to handle these situations and move on or I never would have lasted in this profession for the past 25 years. You see, i do have a grip. I am very well educated and very well trained and excellent at my job.
    If you have never had any of those thoughts or feelings or if you have never had any of those experiences, I have to wonder what kind of grip you have. I think you must be walking around in your own little fantasy world out of touch with reality.

  5. Again, you must not be a nurse. Over the years, I can say that a lazy nurse is the exception, not the rule. You see them sitting at the desk, but you obviously don’t look behind the desk at the stack of labs, the list of new orders, the phone call to the pharmacy to find out where your meds are, and the list could go on and on. So before you come on here to bash nurses, at least know a little bit about nursing.

  6. I am a ‘retired nurse’. I sacrificed a lot over the last 40 years… holiday dinners, hockey games, basketball games- all of which my [5] sons were participating. Mostly I sacrificed myself [worked 6-6 nights] by losing sleep! I drove to Buffalo [110 miles] for a hockey tournament one weekend, drove home Sunday evening and was at work at 11p. I did similar things all the time. When I developed lupus and a clotting disorder w/ pulmonary hypertension the medical center ‘threw me away’ without regard to my needs, just their agenda! The moral of this story…don’t trust your employer, esp if you are a nurse! You are only a number…

    • You are so right, they don’t look at their staff as people, but as possessions, and when you break down, they will just replace you. They just don’t get it, the nursing staff, are their best asset, they should take care of them. isn’t it ironic, we are in the helping/healing profession. And we sacrifice our own physical,emotional,mental health, and administration doesn’t even give a damn. I am so thankful, I finally got the courage, and got out. I am very happy in the profession , I am now in. Nursing did not use to be as it is now, it use to be a profession, you could take pride in, because you had the time, to be a nurse, not a robot. I can fully understand, why many nurses get involved in alcohol. & drug abuse, if the state boards of nursing would just see the trend of nurses, who have been reported for these things, and dig deeper, maybe things could change for nurses & and they would have better health care teams

  7. There are thousands of people who work just as hard and don’t get a third of the benefits or compensation that nurses are afforded. Those of us who work hard and love our families support all healthcare workers whole heartily, but by no means do we feel sorry for you. Everyone has a sob story, but having worked in healthcare I among many others found that nurses cared little to nothing about the support staff whose hard work allowed them to do their jobs. Often times they looked down upon support departments/staff just like doctors do to them, but they’re the very first to whine about doctors mistreating them.

    Sorry to rant a bit in a negative fashion. I just felt it was something that needed to be said. Good luck with your future endeavors.

    • Steve, where are you getting the idea that the original poster was asking you to feel sorry for her?

      Sounds like you have some issues with nurses you’ve worked around, and are letting that color your perception.

  8. I totally agree with what you’ve said. And there is not a nurse alive that can’t say they haven’t felt the way you have, I know there are days I could chuck it all but I keep coming back, to do it all over again! I love my profession, and sometimes, I feel I’ve had enough, but I know I could never do anything else.

  9. I can relate!!!!!! I was a Critical Care Nurse for 7 years, then I went to the O.R. where I worked in Open Heart Surgery. I remained in Surgical Services for the rest of my career. After the death of my husband and with two small children to support, I worked in the O.R. Mon-Fri, then doubled back on Fri night to work in the Open Heart Recovery unit. There were times when I circulated on a case in the O.R. and took care of the same patient in the O.H. Recovery unit that night. There is no more rewarding career than nursing but there are emotional and physical tolls that are taken as well.
    I am now retired and I strongly recommend it! Having said that, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else with my life and am so grateful I had to opportunity to serve in this capacity.

  10. I understand the grievances about being treated like “uneducated, lazy servants” because I agree that nurses do not get as much credit as a profession as they should. I for one would not want to do it, which is why I went into dentistry (a career that for the most part is fairly autonomous and has great hours). Part of the reason I chose my field is because my father and my brother are both doctors and I have seen first-hand the grueling hours and holidays my dad missed while I was growing up as a child, and am now witnessing the same thing with my brother’s children. Here’s the thing- your profession is a choice. No one forced you to be a nurse and you went in knowing the consequences of choosing this profession because (hopefully) you chose it for the love of the job and helping others. For those rare rewarding and gratifying moments in the midst of many heart-wrenching, demanding or “gross” ones. Also, as stated above, most nurses are working 36 hours/week as they are “considered FT working six 12 hr shifts every two weeks. Working 6 of 14 days and having 8 days off is something that most people I know envy”. Meanwhile, the doctors and surgeons working at the hospital for the most part are working 50-60 hours per week or more with many having to often be on-call, leaving them with an uncontrollable lifestyle. Having to always be 10 min away from the hospital, hopping out of bed in the middle of the night, leaving at the beginning of their kid’s soccer game. Unable to even commit to being a hockey coach or anything else because of their commitment to their patients, while also taking all the blame and fear of malpractice suits if anything should go awry. It’s even worse for residents and starting doctors who are working 100 hours/week, leaving you to miss just about every moment of your child’s first years if you’re trying to start a family. Yes, while nurses on average make ~1/3 of the salary of doctors, it takes doctors a minimum of 11 years of higher education (usually more) before they start making a full-time salary, while usually accruing a debt of at least $200,000 with the rising cost of medical school (re: and You can become a RN after completing a minimum 2 year associate program after high school. So in conclusion, while I’m able to feel some sympathy for your complaints about your chosen profession and I believe that nurses are indispensable to the medical field, there are others out there who have it much worse. Overall though, I think all healthcare professionals should be more valued or the quality of care will decrease as less brilliant minds and caring souls will want to enter some of these expected and thankless careers.

    • You’re kind of writing in a circle here. I like that you point out the amount of debt many physicians carry, because with the attempt to make the BSN the standard, many RNs are graduating nursing school with over $100K in debt and insufficient salary to pay that debt. Getting an ADN is a lot cheaper, but many new grad ADNs are now finding they cannot find jobs in the fields they would like to work in, or that they cannot find a job at all without a BSN.

      This idea that nurses only work 6 days out of fourteen is just that, a myth. In order to work the 12 hour shifts, nurses must arrange everything in their life around the days we work. Often, the workload for 3 days in a row is so heavy nurses feel exhausted or sick on the fourth day. “Work hangover” is a common term among nurses. Nurses often arrive early to prepare for their shift off the clock and often leave late due to patient care needs. We are working the same amount of time as an 8-5 employee, we’re just doing it in fewer days. We still lose that time out of our life. There’s so much talk about a nurse’s “ideal” schedule when nurses really don’t get a schedule choice. 12 hour shifts are the norm if you work in a hospital. Some nurses are able to take a pay cut and work in doctor’s offices, but that’s not where the majority of the need is. I don’t just work my 12 hour shift, I also attend staff and committee meetings each month, as well as work overtime. I am required to work a committee, which again takes time away from my “8 days off,” and adds to the hours I work. I often go without a lunch break during my 12 hour shift, again adding to the number of hours I work. 40 hours out of your life is 40 hours, whether you work it in 3 12’s with overtime pay, or you work 8-5 through the week.

      You are exactly correct that healthcare professionals need more respect. I am quick to defend and support physicians when needed, but I don’t hear a lot of the same from physicians about nurses. When physicians think nurses aren’t listening, we hear their microaggressions about things we simply aren’t able to get done because of staffing levels. I’ve been screamed at by physicians in front of patients for refusing to carry out an unsafe order. This is not the norm, but it does happen frequently. If physicians want more respect, they need to deliver more respect to their colleagues.

    • Shut up… This is about nurses, why are you even commenting? We are well aware physicians have it hard too, however, this is a post written by a nurse about nursing…

  11. Anthony Anzell

    Despite what anyone else has said to you whether it was nasty or positive I just want to say thank you. Thank you for having the courage of posting this publicly and most if all enlightening me. When I was in the hospital my sophomore year of high school for a couple weeks one of the things that kept me strong along with my family and friends were the nurses. It’s unfortunate that so many people take nurses for granted and even more unfortunate that you along with other nurses have to endure undeserved harassment. My girlfriend is going to school to become a nurse and I’m really excited for her. I’m excited for her to experience not just life, but the lives of many. I’m excited for her to learn from so many different kinds of people and I’m so happy that she will be pursuing her passion. I know she will be the absolute best nurse. But again I would like to thank you. If I hadn’t read this I don’t think I would have really understood what my girlfriend will be going through on a day to day basis. This will help me to be gentle when she comes home from a bad day at work, drained physically mentally and emotionally. This will help stick up for her when she can’t attend a holiday or family function. This will help me to love her to the bet of my abilities. So thank you and again despite what anybody says, you are so greatly appreciated for your work. Especially by the people who matter the most.

  12. HI All, I have just retired after 46 years of nursing. The first 20 were wonderful, ful-filling and compassionate, the last 26 I felt like I was herding cattle. CEO’s and business people made this into a business. Instead of allowing the compassion of nurses come through, they treat nurses like a factory production line on commission. It is now a extremely difficult and stressful profession with little to NO satisfaction. God Bless all those going into nursing and I really hope you can turn it around. Insurance companies and Business people ruined this profession. Amen.

    • Enjoy your well deserved retirement.

    • Thanks for your years of service.

    • I totally agree with you. I had two aunts that were nurses between 1950 and 1985, both of them loved their jobs, and it was because of the respect they received from the patients and the community. But what I observed today in the profession is so very different. I have a daughter who is in college to become a nurse. and I sometimes want to discourage her, but it would not be fear for me to not support her in her dream. I pray that she would get all the support she needs to be successful.

  13. To mary beth and all the on hands nurses I know. Nursing was a calling not a career choice, for many nurses , many came from homes that they where the oldest daughter thus they became a care giver of there siblings and or nana and or papas and other family members. I believe it made some of us caring people and people who wanted to care for people .so begins the ground work of a path in our lives that brings us to these professional choices. Nursing school takes lots of work dedication and humbling experiences. The curriculum is not easy much hard work and not a just a little bit of intelligence. So just to be clear we all worked very hard to get a nursing enter the real work first constant you will always be responsible for all that happens while you are at work, if you can handle multi tasking it will be expected of you at all times but not respected you generally will be in trouble for the missed weight or a family member comes to visit five. , minutes post a meal and stops the nurses to ask questions re there family members appetite . Well with all respect please visit at meal time so you see for yourself and feed your loved one. Now comes the reality your loved one is a commodity to the instute they are in health care is a large business who all the management people especially the nurse’s in management position are all about the numbers. So now illness has a dollar value on it sad and immoral, so try to work with that moto no one chooses illness we are all vulnerable so please advocate for your people and do not listen to mangers they have a job to do that does not necessarily bode well for the patients, arbitrary room changes that are at least inconvenience for patients and sometimes leads to a decline in the patients medical and emotional health. So having been a nurse for 30 odd years the one constsnt has always been not enough hands on caregivers. I love patients but my job not so much. Please respect Mary Beths feelings and my heart felt

  14. THANK YOU♥♥♥ Well said. 11 years later, retired, life has spitted me out on the other side……it was a good/bad nightmare……

  15. I totally agree with this. I still sometimes with I had a broken leg or something so I didn’t have to work. I worked 16 he shifts 4 days a week for the 8 months I was pregnant and no one really cared that I could barely walk. Just one thing. I now work an 8-5 after working several years night shift and then 16 hour days. I don’t agree that they are that wonderful. Yes I get weekends and some holidays but because of that people make those comments not realizing that I am treated the same way in my job. The doctors and the management treat us like Crap because they think they can get away with it because of “the schedule” I have 2 kids with a husband that works rotating weekends 12 he shifts. I have to have thus schedule. I wish we were seen as a profession like we are. I did my time in school and it was a horrible experience as well. Maybe I don’t have a PhD or MY behind my name but I work my butt off and without us the some doctors would be lost. Thank you for bringing your feeling to light. We often suffer in silence.

  16. I totally agree and empathize with you. Myex co workers feel the same way as me…it actually happened to me when I was doing night shift nurse on my way home with my son I got rear ended badly in a freeway and it was a blessing in disguise because I finally had a break (although not the injuries &my son was okay). My husband and I decided that I just stay home to have a decent and meaningful relationship with him and that I could take care of my kids better. Nursing is a profession I do adore but administrators and hospital management should take in consideration the toll it takes on nurses health. The patient ratio and schedule of 12 hour shift is not really a progress when all the research have shown that it’s not helpful our products but more costly and making more unhappy nurses.

  17. Jack, leave Holly alone. This is what burned out feels like. Besides, think of this forum as a support group. If you don’t have anything supportive to say maybe it’s time you hauled your arse out of here sweetheart

  18. This blog is amazing. I’ve been nursing for over 7 years and I couldn’t agree more with what you have said in this blog. Good for you for writing this. People who aren’t in our profession have no clue what we go through. It really pisses me off when they thick we clean bums and follow docs orders. There is so little respect for us as a profession so I’m really glad blogs like yours exist. People need to be educated. Two thumbs up!

  19. I just want to tell you all how therapeutic your blog is. I was a bedside nurse in a number of capacities (mostly ICU) for 25 years. In 2012 at the age of 51 I finally fulfilled my dream and graduated from CRNA school. My stress is of a different nature now, but I am still and will always be that bedside nurse at heart. Don’t ever devalue what you do and the difference you make. And if you have that dream to do something more or different in our field, do it. My deepest admiration and respect to those of you who are holding down the “trenches” that I left behind. A piece of my heart will always be there.

    • I’m really surprised at how many nurses are finding this blog to be a safe place to vent their frustrations, and I’m encouraged to know it’s not just me. I told my boss at work that this was my blog and while she disagrees with some of the things I’ve written, no one can deny that nurses need a safe space to debrief and decompress. It’s just too bad there are so many “quit your job” trolls I can’t control.

  20. Ashleigh Lemaire

    You go girl! I can’t believe you’ve gotten awful comments about this because this is exactly how it is! I was an oncology nurse for 4 years & would lay awake in bed the night before a shift dreading what I was about to walk into the next day. Nursing IS a fucking hard job! The people that say it’s not are lying. Everyone has thought all these things at one point and don’t let anyone make you feel badly about it! Nurses are people too, not bottomless pits for everyone else’s hangups. I got so sick of having no respect & people treating me like I didn’t know what I was talking about I left the profession. This stuff is not trivial! Thank you for having the guts to put this out there.

  21. Well said friend! Nursing is hard and in no way for sissies. God love you and all our other brother/sister nurses. I can relate and empathize on every level.

  22. I have had to search my hearts of heart before I responded. I am a nurse of 36 years and patient/nurse ratios can be problematic because your individual patients needs are constantly changing and you need to know when,who,how and what to ask for. It’s good to know how to ask for help even if you not familiar with your teammates. The nurses you work with have the solution. They will probably have an idea that can assist with your issues. Enjoy what you are doing and if not spend some quite time to reflect or have lunch or walk with a trusted co-worker and chat. Sometimes a change in different speciality can be a new beginning and you can take your past experience and add it to your new work experience. Nursing is so exciting because of all it’s endless possibilities. One does have to balance life…remember you have to give to yourself in order to give to others. There has to be a human connection to your patient,their family,your team,your supervisors,ancillary support to have mutual respect for one another. It is best to learn about patience,grace,humility ultimately love for yourself,others and your nursing career. Take care,

  23. You post is right on the dot. Thank you for posting and exposing the realities of nursing. I just got off an 8 hour shift on a med surg floor… And i am tired as hell. Believe it, someday you will get the gratitude and thank you for saving a life… But for the most part, you are controlled in a money greedy place where money, profit > patient care. I am an educated individual but due to profit incentive, i am a glorified maid / waitress. Example 1) when we have a sitter, the CNA is the sitter, the floor is left with zero help. No assistants. Leaving you to do 5 total cares, feeding, changing, all the coffee sugar pillow fluffing duties.
    2) customer service is so huge we get paid based on how well the customer service was. Survey says our food is cold, nurses are to blame. Survey says the nurse took too long to answer the same call light for the 500th time, guess whose to blame! All in the meanwhile you are dealing with cardiac events, respiratory failures… Lives of others.
    What im trying to say is, i am the best i can be. If my work is measured by how well your mother’s pillow is being positioned/ or how hot your food is and NOT by saving lives, catching critical values, i am burnt out.

  24. This article hit the head of the nail. I am a new grad six months. I have decided to pursue my MSN in Education because as much as I love nursing, I cant do it under these conditions much longer

  25. Wow! I just retired after working for 50 years. I am an RN. I gave everything I had to my patients. Yes, the original blog is correct. No- one can dispute that unless you have walked in this bloggers shoes. There is a difference, sometimes in shifts, because the powers that be, in heir wisdom believe that if they are sleeping then nothing is happening, so a minimum staff is needed. Time has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, that night time, holiday time and weekends is when most calamities happen and always there are less staff on. As to lunch breaks, I have never worked anywhere and found that there was enough time to go somewhere and eat while working nightshirt. There was always a light on and someone always needed something. Even those progressive hospitals who would supply relief for breaks did not help. The relief sat and did nothing while you gobbled down something and rushed back to do what still needed to be done. I could go on for ever relating incidents which were caused by too few staff, but suffice it to say that my heart goes out to all those angels of mercy who do their jobs, saving lives of patients and careers of doctors and reputations of hospitals, and get no thanks, only criticism. I too have cried rivers in my time, but when the next phone call came, asking me to come in because 3 nurses have called in sick and they can’t find anyone else, you drag yourself up and go because you know that there are patients depending on you.

  26. Wow! You clean up dirty bums?! I need to work at your hospital! I’ve never seen one of my nurse co-workers actually clean up a (literally) shitty patient. Kudos to you and I hope your techs realize how lucky they are.

    Nurse techs are the true un-sung heroes, I’m afraid. Significantly more work and significantly less pay.

    • You must be a tech, Beth. I was an ED tech before I became an ED nurse. I worked hard and was exhausted at the end of each of my tech shifts. But you are fooling yourself if you really believe you work harder than nurses. Not only do nurses work hard, but they also bear tremendous responsibility and liability in the care of their patients. From medication administration, recognition of abnormal EKGs and vital signs, assessing and identifying other abnormalities that require intervention, and responding appropriately, knowing what needs to be escalated to the physician and what does not, when to call an RRT, etc.

      And your comment about nurses actually cleaning stool off their patients? I don’t know where you work, but we don’t have techs on the ICU step-down unit I work in now, so whatever needs to be cleaned gets cleaned by nurses. You sound like someone who needs to go to nursing school and become a nurse so that you truly understand the issues. And once you do, I hope you have the experience of listening to techs complain about how their jobs are harder than yours and how they are the true unsung heroes.

  27. GrimalkinRN, you are spot on. After a 43 year career as an RN, I retired from a profession I loved. I always said “I love my profession, but hate my job”. I left for many reasons: 1) Corporate healthcare treats nurses as if we are working on an assembly line, 2) patients and families have unreal expectations as well as think they know more than I do because they “googled” their illness, 3) the bottom line and “customer service” are more important than patient care. Anyone on this blog who criticizes you is either not a nurse or is uneducated on what Nurses really go through on a daily basis. The soul of a Nurse is totally dedicated to the patient even if that means sacrificing him/herself. Management banks on that.

    • SO very very true. Management sees us as cogs in the machinery, cares little or nothing about us trying to balance home / family / work. They put more and more expectations on our time – education / mandatory inservices that have to be done online. Be sure to check your work e- mail daily even if it is your day off. Staff meetings cancelled or re- scheduled with no thought to staff who have already re-arranged thier time to attend. The PRESSURE to return to school for BSN which gets you $25 more a week ??After almost 40 years in nursing and a long standing certification in my specialty ? I could go on and on. I love my patients but the stress to perform is taking a heavy toll.

  28. I fully appreciate your comments and complaints and over the years have thought, felt and expressed all of them. We do what we do best for as long as we can and then we find a way to continue nursing without getting beaten up day in and day out. That unfortunately takes us away from the bedside and the patients who need us most. We nurses need to find a way to direct our energy to improving our situation. I don’t know the answer. I’m afraid that the politics and the business of healthcare is bigger than all of us. There is no excuse, however, for any patient or family member to fail to notice just what and how much we do and how important to restoration of their health that nurses are. In the meantime I hope that expressing yourselves here helps and that you can find a way, you must, to take care of yourselves.

  29. Well said! Thank you!!

  30. Been there, done that. There are thankfully other venues of nursing besides hospitals if hospitals are no longer your thing. That’s what I love about nursing, lots of choices. After 2 years in an acute setting I quit and now work as an RN supervisor in home health. It’s less stressful, I get to spend time with my husband every weekend, I’m out in the community making a difference and I make good money! Best of all I’m not a zombie anymore from working nights and my life feels more balanced. Every nurse needs to find there place and a hospital may not be it.

    • Don’t know what home health you work in but our supervisor comes in on Sundays to assigns patients so that we can get out the door first thing on Monday. she also works 10-12 hour days five days/week to deal with insurance companies, MD Offices, sets up our admissions, discharges, etc for us to do, calls labs, and she is on call for us with patient questions , etc. We are in the trenches, dealing with wound vacs, severe wounds, hospice patients, not to mention all the computer time that it takes to chart all of this. most girls do’t charge their full hours that they spend charting and with patients because their productivity will come back to bite them. We also take call once a week during the week, and work one weekend/month. so you often times get call out to someones home for a crisis, then have to work your eight hour (really 10-12 hr) day the next day. we have very few full time nurses because of this grind. The gals spend their day off catching up charting , etc. And we are not paid any better then hospital nurses, since we are a hospital department. Tell me where you work and I will come apply tomorrow!!!!!

      • add to above a full day is considered 6 patients (or an admission and three) where we may have a 165 mile drive to cover them

  31. I love your post. When reading it and the responses I can say we nurses are like battle fatigued soldiers. I have been a nurse for 12 years now and I am TIRED! I tell my family that I use all my senses except tasting my patients. I am a labor and delivery nurse amd with everyone using epidurals I have injured myself 3 times. I commend nurses who have been on the floor for 30 years, I km ow my body won’t hold up for that. Our families don’t get it they say things like “yoi have so much time off” to which I reply I am so beat that ony day off I can barely get the kids to school. Or “why not work in an office so you can have regular hours”. My response to that is that as a single mother I can’t afford the almost 50% pay cut amd working the way I do allows me to attend field trips and most school programs. I love being a bedside nurse but my sad reality is thay I am going to have to leave it soon for self preservation.
    It is scary to see that the majority of people are very self centered amd care only of themselves. I have had a patient ask me if we could move a patient out of a room they wanted. I of course said no and reminded them that they wouldn’t wish to treated that way. I pray for the human race.

  32. Holly needs a new job! Yes. people need to be polite but many who are sick are not but its your job to over look it and show them your caring side. As for the guy with the stupid comments….umm he just hates life. If nurse walked out….people could die. There is no way to fill their shoes that quickly and thank God, nurses took a oath and would not do that. However, I say this and what about nurses who go on strike. I would never be a nurse under a union. I’ve worked with them and their are places to work where you do not have them.

  33. You said it well
    How sad we go into nursing to get “further education” to get away from nursing. The worst part is … Who will be taking care of us in a few years. RN now for 40 yrs.

  34. Thank you from one RN to another.

  35. Beautifully written and though I’m not a nurse I work in healthcare and see the wear and tear. It was my dream to become a nurse but after being an assistant and giving my all to my patients and staff..I found I had nothing left to give my family so I had to make a change. It takes a special breed GOD bless you and thanks for all you do!!

  36. I completely agree but i also wanted to add that personal support worker go threw all this to and more. Some things a psw cant do like give meds or stuff but the long hours the abuse the harassment we get all that too.

  37. Hats off to OKC nurses! I’ve been in hospitals quite a bit the last 2 years caring for my BFF battling Scleroderma, Lupus & RA. I was so blessed to be able to stay with her and give her that constant care. The nurses were amazing! They were very supportive of my caring for her. There is no way they can handle it all. Most times there were only 3-4 nurses for an entire floor!! Bring them food when u bring it to your loved one, they so appreciate it.

  38. I’m puzzled what you could have gotten so upset about. Seems to me your just one of the not very happy people in the world with nothing more to do then spread your rudeness on social media. After reading your comments it seems to me that you ARE one of the stupid people. Please butt out and leave good, intelligent people to their thought provoking conversation. People like you are why our world is in such terrible shape. Learn to discuss, share and learn. Even if you disagree do so with intelligent thoughtful insight, that is what will differentiate you from the stupid people you profess to hate. Instead, you showed yourself to be one of them.

  39. Thank you.

  40. Yes! Unionize! That would sure shock that greedy CEO! Has anyone investigated his salary? The one at my hospital makes OVER 4 million a year. That is sick and twisted. AND I work at a “non-profit” hospital. Yeah right – non- profit. Anyway – nursing has been like this forever. I graduated in 1985 and I remember being totally shocked at how we were treated then! One day in the report room they were all griping about it. I said, “Why in the world haven’t you all formed a union? Things aren’t going to improve until you do!” They looked at me sternly and told me I was never to say that word again. That was in Columbia, SC 28 years ago. Not one thing has improved since then. They were a bunch of scared, subservient women – unwilling to speak up and demand change.

    • When CEO get>4million a year, there are a lot of adds i news papers: “RN needed”, but in reality none is hired and that is why the rest of RN overworked, abused, always feel like something is not finished and they could be fired for it, bad backs… Syndrome of abuse woman/man?!!!

  41. Thank you for your blog. Like the others, I can’t believe anyone would leave a negative comment but the world is full of haters.
    My husband recently underwent major surgery and was in ICU for five days. I watched in awe as his nurses, male and female, tended to his every need. When he unexpectedly took a bad turn, everyone went into high gear and knew exactly what to do.
    After I had been awake for 36 hours straight, one of his nurses looked me straight in the eye and told me to go home and get some rest. She reminded me that when he came through all of this he was going to need me and I had better be on top of my game. How right she was!
    I can’t thank the doctors and nurses enough for what they did for my husband and I will forever be in awe at the knowledge, competence, and courage they show day in and day out. God Bless you all.

  42. Well put my fellow nurse. I feel the same exact way. I too am very shocked that you got any negativity towards this blog. I would have thought that everybody would have agreed with you nurse or not cuz if they aren’t a nurse surely they know one or two or three. Anyway, I’m trying to hang in there for a long time but I still don’t know if I’ll retire in this profession. It’s getting worse and worse year after year. Next thing you know they’ll have the know- -it-all patients giving up our nursing degrees and renewing our licenses. Smh.

  43. Was a nurse for 46 years before I retired. I surely sympathize with everything you have to say. Been there, Done that. Saw so many changes in my years of work. Most good. Everything getting so hi-tech. Working 8 hr. shifts then being mandated to 12hr., working 12 hr. shifts being mandated to 16hrs. Noone should have to work those kind of hrs. Was a float nurse for 25 years and worked 12 hr. shifts. Some days you worked 4 hrs one floor, 4 hrs another and last 4 yet another. Try that people who don’t think nurses do much. 4 patients 4hrs to do care and all charting. Don’t get me wrong I loved my career and couldn’t imagine having done anything else, but what you say is so true. Had a nurse recently left after 16 hr. shift at midnight. SHe was found the next am in trees and bushes off the road, having fell asleep on way home. Powers that be don’t realize your 4 patients could all be serious heavy care patients not half easy or half hard. I know you know what I am talking about.

  44. sandy bessonette

    God Bless all the nurses and thank you for a sometimes thankless job.

  45. I have been a nurse for twenty years and it has got to the point that we cannot breath! We cant go to the bathroom or take a lunch because we don’t have enough time in our day to do it all.

    please just think! We are people too!

  46. Express yourself freely. That is what a blog is for. Do not apologize to people who do not get that. ❤

  47. Nursing can be a hard gig, but so are basically all jobs in the health and science field. Not to mention becoming a nurse actually isn’t that difficult, you can do the BSN route, but there are also tons of accelerated programs to get you there faster. The sacrificial alter of work isn’t just for nurses it’s the mentality of the entirely scientific community, at least nurses get some appreciation because they are seen by the public. Those of us designing your drugs and hunting for cures are basically forgotten entirely. We work hard too, giving up our sleep and our holidays knowing that extra hour of work could save lives.

    • Becoming a nurse is hell. Nursing school is awful. When I think if “would I do it again?” I’d be a nurse again, but not if I had to get through nursing school.

    • No. Not hard at all to become a nurse. You should try it. Obviously you are not a nurse or you wouldn’t have posted that nonsense.

  48. Ummm…does this blog apply to those RNs whom have been lucky enough to secure, and currently work in PRN positions whereby they need only work two days a week and a few holidays a year? Doesn’t sound all that stressful to me, especially when you have five solid days to decompress…

    • RNsPs, how someone else’s hours “sound” to you is irrelevant. Even two days a week can be stressful, especially if the nurse in question has a second job, or heavy commitments at home. As a manager (who practiced what she preached) once observeed to me, nursing always has been, and always will be, a job that requires you to give 110%. So, ,even at the best of times, it can be a difficult job–and what nurses here are describing is obviously not the best of times.

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