What it's really like being a Nurse...

In honour of International Nurses Day, I wanted to write a post about what it's really like to be a Nurse. I've been qualified since November 2016 and prior to this, I've worked in the NHS since 2015 doing various things such as a Health and Social care course, Nursing cadets and then as a student Nurse leading to where I am now, a qualified Staff Nurse. I love my job. There is no doubt about it, I love working with patients and with other devoted staff to bring the best healthcare possible to those who are in need. I never wanted to be a Nurse, I wanted to be a paramedic originally and got told all through school to aim to be a Doctor. I never fancied being a Doctor, the main reason I didn't want too was I thought I couldn't tell someone their loved one had passed away. How little I knew, this is mainly done by Nurses now. Something I still struggle to do.

I some how ended up choosing subjects at college and school to get me into either paramedic training or nurse training. Paramedic training was only available in London at the time, which would have meant moving away from family, and having to rent a flat. All of which was not on my list of plans at that stage of my life being a 16 year old. I was then told to train as a Nurse first, then go on from there. Now, here I am, in a Nursing job, and I wouldn't go back. All the experiences I had during my time training, some great, others, not so great, made me love my job more and more and made me realise, I could actually make a difference.

I always see things on Facebook and Instagram about 'what it's like to date a nurse' or 'perks of living with a Nurse' but never a post about what it is actually like to be a nurse through a nurses eyes. So here we go...

We think about your loved ones all the time.
I have met some superhuman nurses who manage to separate their work life and their home life and can go home and not think about their patients. Me and others however, we thing about them all the time. I go home after a shift and think about every details of your relative or loved ones care and make a list in my head of what I need to do tomorrow and I wonder how they are feeling or getting on in the next shift. My days off I wonder if you relative or loved one is improving. I think about them before I go to bed hoping they're well and how they must feel being in that hospital bed. I never stop thinking about them until they are home. 

We cry for your loved ones. 
Sometimes, we have 2 personas at work, the professional one where we give bad news and carry on with the rest of our shift. This is the one relatives and patients often see the most. Then we have our emotional one, where we go to the toilets at work and cry after giving your loved one or your family bad news. Sometimes we manage to hold it in until we get home from our shift, for me, I find I sometimes can not contain my emotional side and we cry with families, we cry in our clinical rooms, we cry in our cars before going home, we cry to our partners about our day. This makes us human. I used to look at nurses giving bad news who could just do it without letting their emotional side get the better of them and hope to be like that one day, now I'm glad to have that emotional side. It proves we are human and we do care. 

We sometimes don't see our family for weeks on end just to look after yours.
Working shifts that can last 13 hours can be testing on relationships and families as this can result in us not seeing our partners for days, our own mothers, fathers and other loved ones for days or even weeks. My days off are usually spent sleeping or catching up on  endless amounts of housework as days off might not marry up with other peoples days off so I can't visit. We sometimes see our patients coworkers more than our own families.  We just have to get used to it. Holidays we miss our on seeing our family too. Christmas and New Years Eve working isn't as bad as people think, but we do miss our families. 

We all have a dark sense of humour.
God forbid anyone who wasn't a nurse hears the way we cope with work by making quite dark jokes about our job, they'd be disgusted.  We can joke about anything at work and anyone who hears may be horrified however, this is how we cope. Some days, work is all doom and gloom and the only way to smile is to have a joke with your fellow nurses on shift. 

Our bodies HURT.
We ache all over by the end of our shift. Not just in one place normally, its normally a combination between our knees, our shoulders, our backs, just everywhere. Our bodies can age quickly as a result of this, we walk around with full bladders, rumbling tummies, on our feet for 10+ hours, helping patients up to their feet that are probably heavier than your should moving, it all adds up. Deep heat and heat packs become our best friends. 

We are underpaid. 
No one should enter nursing for the money. Because you will be let down. I have had students quiz me about our wages and I'm not shy about my pay, so I show them my pay slip and their faces soon drop. We don't come into this type of profession to get paid a million. We begin our journey because we care. Yes, being paid more would be lovely as we do face the public more than the normal job would and we go procedures and see things that most people would be horrified at but money isn't the incentive at all. We just want to care. 

As a favour from a Nurse, please tell a Nurse at any stage you come across one, whether its a friend or a relative, or if your loved one is unfortunate enough to be admitted into hospital, please just say thank you for their hard work. We work so hard to give the best care and we do try our very best. Sometimes, things happen and the best effort is not enough. But from a Nurse, we do try our very hardest every day at work to save your families life. Love our Nurses because we love our patients. To my fellow Nurses, we rock. This is our day. Thank you for all your hard work and let's keep doing what we are doing!


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