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Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Nurse


Even the most prepared of nursing students face surprises once they make their way into those first days on the job.

Even the most prepared of nursing students face surprises once they make their way into those first days on the job. Putting theory into practice brings revelations about what nursing is actually like day in, day out — the challenges, the rewards, and everything in between. Here are a few things nobody tells you about becoming a nurse:

You will quickly become a pro at communication.

Nurses do a lot of communicating. They’re often the first person patients have a conversation with. They then translate and relay important details to the doctors they work with. They take notes and enter medical information into record-keeping systems. The list goes on. This involves a high level of practical knowledge as well as a wealth of emotional intelligence.

At first, nurses with a naturally quiet disposition can struggle with being the hub of information they’re expected to be. But communicating eventually becomes second-nature to seasoned nurses, a valuable skill that translates to nearly every other facet of life. You’ll learn when to communicate with patience and care, and when to deliver the core message as concisely as possible. Either way, great nurses manage to bring tactfulness to every type of interaction.

Related resource: Note-Taking Tips for Nurses

Nursing is more physically demanding than it looks.

Most nursing students realize that they will be spending lots of time on their feet. And while supportive footwear is a vital component to any nurse’s uniform, many of them often find that there are other challenges to overcome.

For example, many hospital environments have especially dry air due to facility specifications, leaving nurses with yet another reason to keep hydration at the top of the priority lists. Many nursing schedules also hinder regular sleep cycles. The art of sneaking a nap during precious downtime is one most nurses master in their first months on the job. Self-care is a must, and you’ll figure out what specific practices keep you in peak shape.

Related resource: Healthy Hacks for a Busy Lifestyle

Nurses often put their hearts into their work.

Nurses learn to distance themselves from patients’ stories in such a way that they can focus on the task at hand rather than become emotionally attached to patients, all the while maintaining the compassion and empathy patients need to feel well looked after. However, all nurses find themselves emotionally wrapped up in a patient’s outcome. It’s important to recognize when this happens and remember that it is a common occurrence.

After all, those drawn to nursing tend to have big hearts in the first place. Part of learning how to be an impeccable nurse is recognizing when you get attached to patients and discerning how you can skillfully navigate the situation for the betterment of everyone.

Related resource: Tips for Being Empathetic When Providing Care

Your social life and career will likely be enmeshed.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One aspect of nursing life that popular TV dramas like “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” got right is that nurses tend to form close bonds with their co-workers. Long hours and often high-stakes situations lead to a strong sense of camaraderie among the team. Expect to make lifelong friendships at work, and embrace the fact that your fellow nurses are in a unique position to really understand your experience because it will be so parallel to their own.

In any industry, individuals find that the demands of their careers also play a central role in shaping the way they spend their time away from the job, and nurses are definitely no exception. Some new nurses find creative ways to spend quality time with their children and spouses while keeping in touch with friends. Having a social life as a nurse with people who aren’t your co-workers isn’t impossible. Keeping close ties to your community is one of the best ways to stave off burnout and ensure sustainable success as a nurse.

Related resource: Parents in Nursing School Should Try These Study Tips

Nursing is even more rewarding than it looks.

Each nurse has his or her own reasons to keep striving for the next goal, but one thing they all have in common is enjoying the rewarding quality of their profession. Not everyone gets to devote their professional time to helping people quite as directly as nurses do, and their central role in the healthcare workplace means they are relied upon as helpers and leaders of a collaborative team.

Choosing a nursing career also means choosing a path of lifelong learning. Every day is different, and things rarely get dull. Many people become nurses because it is such an in-demand profession, only to find later that they’ve also realized their true passion and calling.

Related resource: The Journey of a Former Ameritech Student and Nurse Extraordinaire
There is much more to nursing than meets the eye, and Ameritech strives to set its students up for success by giving them all the tools they need to enter the job market as prepared as possible. To learn more about our nursing, RN–BSN, or other programs, visit our program pages or follow us on Facebook.