Healthcare Career Advice: The Many Challenges of Becoming a Hospital NurseBy Patrick Jones, UniversityHerald Reporter
One of the fastest growing employment sectors in the United States is that of the healthcare industry. Each year, more and more people enter into careers centered around some aspect of healthcare, and this employment trend currently shows no signs of slowing down.
One of the largest fields of healthcare is nursing. A nurse does a majority of the work and predominantly all of the menial tasks associated with patient care. As such, nurses can earn an above average salary at most hospitals, provided they have the proper educational backgrounds and experience.
Being a nurse, however, does come with its challenges. In fact, there are several factors to consider prior to embarking on a nursing program or a career in nursing.
Here, we'll outline the challenges you'll face as a nurse and illustrate the issues that the average nurse might face on a daily basis.
Most nursing students are aware that they'll most likely be working long hours when they begin their studies. In fact, most nurses work an average shift of between 10 and 12 hours, and sometimes this is even longer, extending to 14 to 16 hours. Additionally, it's not uncommon for understaffed hospitals to have nurses on 24 hour rotations alongside physicians.
Long hours cause fatigue, and spending this amount of time indoors or without rest can cause a host of mental and physiological problems.
Physically Demanding Work
In addition to long hours (which in itself is physically demanding) nurses must also perform many physically demanding tasks.
These tasks may include moving heavy patients, helping patients walk, moving heavy equipment, etc. Most of the work can be physically exerting, and can cause health problems over time resulting in neck, back, and hip issues.
Student Loan Debt
In addition to putting up with a demanding schedule, most graduates from nursing school will incur thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Though a nurse's salary is considered above average in many hospitals, large debt can take years to pay off.
Allegations of Abuse
Nurses handle many patients in a given day, and each patient is different. Some patients may attempt to report abuse if they feel that they're being mistreated, neglected, or anything of the like. In fact, it's not uncommon for nurses to be the focus of lawsuits for nursing abuse.
Though many allegations of abuse occur within hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities, a nurse might also witness abuse and be pressured into keeping quiet, or feel that they could compromise their job by reporting abuse.
Most nurses don't have a set schedule when they first begin a nursing career. You're basically at the mercy of the totem pole system, and you'll most likely be stuck on the least desirable shift until you work your way up in seniority.
A nurse's schedule might include a combination of days, mid-day, and night shifts all in the same week. This combined with long hours and inconsistent off-days make it difficult to plan your life away from work, attend special events, or spend quality time with your children.
Everyone reacts to death differently. In fact, until you visually watch someone take their last breath, this is an experience that you won't be able to relate to.
During a nursing career, you will see patients die from time to time. And this can weigh heavily on the heart and mind of any person, regardless of training or experience. In fact, because of the common occurrence of death and witnessing death, occupational dissatisfaction among nurses is 4 times greater than most other professions.
In the world of nursing, there are also several positive aspects to list. You'll become a respected member of your community, be trained to perform a vital service, help save lives, and be able to make a difference in patient care.
But, you should never go into the nursing field unaware of the challenges, which can be a combination of determining factors going forward in any career.