Is Being a Nursing Rewarding?
It’s easy to be idealistic when first headed down your path to a career in nursing. While taking prerequisites and during your nursing program, you may believe that the best part of nursing will be how happy the patients will be to see you. In fact, many nursing students believe that they will be able to brighten every patient’s day, just by being their nurse. Sometimes, this is true.
During much of your nursing work, however, you’ll have to develop a thicker skin. In reality, patients often are so sick that they aren’t at their best. It may be true that they’d have yelled at or thrown that bedpan at anyone else who walked in at that time, but recognizing that won’t necessarily make you feel better that it happened to you. Add in the stress of working at an understaffed hospital, or on a unit with low morale or high conflict among the nursing staff, and you can certainly find yourself in some very stressful work situations that will make you say to yourself, “Is nursing rewarding? I’m not so sure!”
If you truly feel you are meant to be a nurse, none of this has to chase you out of the field or prevent you from entering it. The truth is you often can make a difference to that cranky patient. The field is full of stories of misbehaving patients who calmed down, fixed their attitudes, and even thanked nurses who were strong enough to put them in their places. Also, regardless of whether any patient behaves unpleasantly when they’re in pain or delirium, if you are meant to be a healer, then you will always have the satisfaction of feeling that you made a real effort for that patient, and that your efforts genuinely made a difference in their care.
Every experienced nurse has heartwarming and heroic stories, too. Besides having patients personally tell them how much their care meant, many nurses have experienced situations in which they were the only staff member to notice and handle a vital aspect of a patient’s treatment, single-handedly preventing an adverse outcome for that person. So when wondering to yourself whether nursing is rewarding, understand that if you are willing to put up with the hard labor, the workplace drama, and the myriad of details that go into the work, you will often have many days when you really, truly find yourself thinking that it is.