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    People would often say that being a nurse is more than a mere profession. In fact, every nurses would attest to this true-life statement, because their role is not only limited to their job description. Being a nurse means being ready to serve whole heartedly for it would necessitate them to endure different challenges to help save a life. The struggles of a nurse are not a compilation of complaints, instead it is a throng of facts experienced by most nurses which are not delineated in textbooks. These struggles also demarcate the sacrifices which nurses have been doing every shift of their nursing career, with the intention of serving their patient’s best interest.

nurse struggles-of-saving-life

1. Nurses have the strongest and possibly biggest bladder among all human beings.

A bladder can only tolerate an average of 500 ml urine. However, nurses must have developed a special kind of super power which probably allows them to hold more than 2,500 ml of urine, for they can tolerate not peeing for 12 hours. Yes, nurses have a super power which allows them to continuously work, especially during toxic hours, and hold their urine for half a day. It is very ironic that nurses often worry too much when their patients have not peed for 8 hours, when they themselves have not peed even a drop in half a day. This special kind of super power only proves how hardworking nurses are and how focused they are in attending all their patients’ needs.

2. Some nurses experience finishing their day’s shift without getting the chance to start their meal.

Nurses work in shifting schedules, and encapsulated in this shifting schedules is sometimes working for 12 to 16 hours straight. When the load of work or census of patients is detrimentally high, there would be instances wherein nurses tend to skip their meal. They end up forgetting to have their break not because they wanted to finish their work faster and earlier but simply because of load of work. Sometimes, they only get to realize it as they arrive home.

3. Nurses need to underscore that they are not patient’s personal servant but make sure not to offend their patients.

It is nurse’s fundamental responsibility to address their patients’ needs, however, it must also be clear that nurses do not work as the patient’s servant. There is a fine line in delineating the difference between a personal servant and a professional nurse. First, nurses are responsible in attending all the patient’s nursing needs. This implies that it may range from the simple ADLs to the intricate nursing procedures. However, it is also integral to underscore that there are nursing tasks which can be delegated to nurse aide in order for nurses to attend on other patients. Nurse aide are trained to be equipped in providing personal care, monitoring vital signs (particularly in first world countries), and some states in America allows them to provide certain medications ordered by the physician. Second, nurses are no longer responsible to attend on certain personal needs which could be done by themselves. For example, some patients press on the call light every now then, and merely ask nurses to get something for them inside the room which can be easily done by themselves. Some patients may ask nurse to pick something for them in the cafeteria or other things which is not related to their care. It is important to also consider that nurses attend to several patients, and not only 2 to 3 patients per shift. In addition to this, they also need to complete other tasks such as documenting, endorsing, and coordinating with other health care team about the patient’s care.         

4. Nurses have the toughest stomach which can endure a wide variety of ghastly and nauseating occurrences in the hospital

Blood, unexpected vomit, and inevitable diarrhea are few of the dreadful occurrences that are very common for nurses. In fact, other experiences such as draining abscess, amputation of diabetic limb, and other stomach-churning procedures are things that nurses need to tolerate. Novice nurses may need more exposure to such kind of events in order to develop a stronger stomach for gruesome procedures that they are about to witness. Operating room and emergency room would be the best training ground for this for they encapsulate the finest patient stories.

5. Nurses also agonize the pain of their patients.

Pain is not only for patients. Nurses also somehow feels the burden of their patients regardless if this is physical, mental, or emotional pain. They know how a simple insertion of IV is painful, which is why they are trying to be as delicate as possible. They also know how painful it is to think about the disease per se, plus the financial cost of their medical treatment. Finally, nurses also feels the emotional pain of going through the process and not clearly knowing if the patient would be able to make it or not, or even just thinking if they would be able to fully recover and get back to their normal lives. These pain are beyond the nurse’s control, but they still make ways to make the experience less stressful, even on trivial things such as throwing humors or having a quick chit-chat with them.

6. Nurses don’t usually, or maybe always, get out of work on time.

Getting out of work on time, would be the best thing that could happen in a nurse’s life because this seldom or maybe (for some) never happens. Nurses do not only attend on the needs of the patients but they also need to document, and endorse patient information and updates to their health care team. Furthermore, they would also need to corroborate with other medical staff especially if there are any remarkable changes or development transpired among their patients. Thus, get out on time is also most very impossible in nursing career.

7. Nurses do not get to have the perks of holiday rest days or even just a fixed rest days.

Nurses have long hours of work and shifting schedule, but it does not end there, because they also do not have fixed rest days and even holiday rest day. While every business is closed during Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, nurses on the other hand are in full gear in preparation to work. Other business holidays do not apply to nurses as long as they are scheduled to work on that specific day. The only chance that they get to have a holiday rest day during business holidays is when they are lucky enough to have their rest day fall on those holidays.

8. Nurses care for other people, but sometimes fail to look after the people they care the most.

Caring patients is one of the nurse’s main responsibility, but there would be instances in which nurses are able to effectively take care of other people, but sometimes compromise their own family (the people whom they really care about). As mentioned earlier, being a nurse is more than a profession, because it is a calling. There are certain aspects in this career that require the full commitment that may compromise personal matters in their life. For instance, long work hours is often one of the common dilemma of nurses and the time that is supposed to be allotted to their family is diminished. Moreover, once home, a profound amount of rest is needed after the day’s work. Great concern also affects nurses who have kids for they sometimes feel guilty of having less quality time with their children. Aside from this, nurses do not have a fixed rest day aside from having a shifting schedule, which also means that they cannot always guarantee if they would be able to attend their children’s school program or at last be on time for birthday celebration or even holidays.

9. Nurses also needs some nursing

After all the long work hours and stress, it is often expected that nurses still have the endurance to do other non-medical or nursing related activities. Well, it is true, it’s not like they loss a limb after a 12 or 16 hour shift, but it could have been better if they will be the one to be catered after work. Nurses are humans, just humans who also needs other people’s care simply because their energy also wears off.

10. Nurses in certain countries are undercompensated

This is a fact that certain nurses are experiencing, especially in third world countries. Such problem affects nurses profoundly because their physical stress and dedication are not valued appropriately. Compensation is very important to tackle because nurses’ work is very strenuous and requires tough attitude in order to manage the complexity of their tasks effectively. Unfortunately, not everyone get to enjoy the incentives of their hard labor.

Being a nurse is a very adventurous and knowledge nurturing experience, but there are certain factors that an individual needs to be equip and aware of prior opting this. This is the rationale why people would say nursing is a calling, not a profession. Besides, the mere act of nursing means to genuinely take care of someone, regardless of the situation. Therefore it should be expected that great challenges will lie ahead, but nurses still needs to be dedicated and true on what they’ve promised the minute they articulated the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

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Danica is a Registered Nurse in the Philippines who used to work as an Occupational Health Nurse in a pharmaceutical company. She opted to devote and exemplify her profession through writing. She is an Academic Writer for more than three years. A mother of adorable 5 year old girl and an entrepreneur who started designing and making customized and originally crafted bags.