Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Why Do We Do What We Do?

...or why get into nursing in the first place?
I was reading Julie's blog over @ Life in the NHS. there she was innocently talking about a conference and mixing wines. When it all got semi-hijacked in the comments...
I would like your honest opinion. I am registered to begin a PgDip in Adult Nursing. It seems fairly random to ask your advice but when I put in ‘life in the nhs’, ‘nurse’ and ‘mother’ into google this site comes up! I have some concerns about nursing and would like the opinion of an experienced nurse. I am concerned about how nursing fits into family life, but also general career prospects and job satisfaction. I have to say, I read the 2005 RCN report into conditions for nurses and it made sobering reading! My family are concerned about work-life balance and want me to think very carefully, but I’m finding it difficult to get the advice I need. Please help!
Many thanks,

Oh see I have to stick my oar in now....
Hi Amy,
I think you are wise to think carefully before embarking on a career like nursing. This is an exciting but volatile and changing time to be starting on this particular career pathway. Nursing can be a rewarding and exciting career. There has never been a better time to push the boundaries of what nursing is about, but at the same time many (including nurses) believe this puts pressure on the ability of nurses to perform the basic and fundamental skills of nursing. The most important aspect of these are caring, listening, communicating and providing care. There are jobs available in many areas of work which means that it is possible to work full time, part time, to work at night or during the daytime. Acute care has become more stressful and demanding, work in the community more dynamic and acute focused since people stay in hospital for less of else don’t go there at all. There is also lots of work within prevention and health promotion - this will be increasingly important.
I don’t think nursing conditions are bad. Jobs are pretty secure, but the patient in some way or other needs care over the 24 hour period. We have to be there for the good of our patients not for ourselves. Pension is good, there are good holiday entitlements, paid holiday and sickness - you can do worse and reasonable pay. But it isn’t for everyone, we don’t always make good colleagues for each other and there are good and bad nurses around. I wouldn’t change anything about my career, but then I no longer work at the sharp end.
Hope this ramble helps. I might write a post about some of these points.

Julie's reply is essentially brilliant, it covers all the bases, so why am I sticking my oar in? Well I was commenting anyway.
Hi Amy
I’m about a month from the end of my course and it’s been a real eye opener. I wasn’t clear on what the course was really about when I started. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world but that didn’t stop it being difficult and heartbreaking at times.
However few jobs in this life are as varied and ever changing as nursing. There are hundreds of specialities, different ways of progressing, multiple travel opportunities… There really is a niche for everyone.
If you decide to go for it then you will never regret it and will become evangelical about the benefits. But the sharp end conditions are as they seem. We are stressed and pushed and jaded. While at the same time the greatest voice for our patients and with fight to the death to protect it.
For family life… just remember to leave your work behind when you leave. It’s all too easy to take it home. A lesson I learned only after getting pushed.
Think long and hard. But if it’s your dream go for it!

I do really believe in that. If it's what you've always wanted to do then you should just go for it. Sod the reports, the press, the horror stories. Just do what you want to. So many of us dreamed of being nurses so we're doing what we wanted to do.
Of course there's a lot of people who fell into it but that doesn't make them bad nurses. There are people who dreamed of being nurses but are just not good at it.
It's the hardest training and most stressful in the world but it's also the most rewarding job and it definitely seems to make you a stronger person.

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