If I had a nickel for every time that someone has asked me what I do as a nurse, I could probably buy myself a plane ticket home to Alaska. There have honestly been sooo many times since I first started nursing school that people (and well-meaning people at that) have asked me what I could possibly do during a twelve hour shift at the hospital. I have had some people sincerely believe that I give my patients shots and pills, maybe start an occasional IV, and then just monitor my patients and fluff their pillows for them if they need it.
It's kind of hard to describe how crazy being a nurse can be (not to say that other jobs aren't super stressful/crazy as well). Being a nurse takes a lot out of you physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is why nurses usually only work 3-4 twelve hour shifts a week: it takes at least one day off to recover phycially before you can join the world again and have a life. I LOVE being a nurse, however I'm positive that the last year I spent as a nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center has aged me significantly.
So it's time to set the record straight on what a nurse does:
As a nurse I definitely give shots, pills, and start IVs. However, being a nurse also requires me to be a social worker, advocate, life-saver, crier, laugher, shouter, book-keeper, problem solver, secretary, educator, family meeting coordinator, patient care coordinator, physical therapist, expert at doing eight things NOW, shoulder to cry on, heavy weight-lifter, Spanish translator, computer technician, medical equipment repairman, moderator, speed-walker, and last but definitely not least, a bodily fluid wiper-upper. Sometimes I've been lucky enough to be all of them in one day. Like I said, LOVE my job, but definitely not a cushy job.
So I have to ask any of my nursing friends who follow this blog: was that pretty accurate?
I hope everyone out there is fortunate enough to have great nurses. Hopefully your nurses are nice, helpful, and good at IV starts. If they ever seem a little flustered, the above explanation is probably the reason, and most likely your nurse is trying REALLY hard to serve you as best as possible. It's just not an easy job!