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It’s one of the most loaded questions you can ask me.  There is no answer that can fully encompass my feelings or accurately reflect the overwhelming response that swells when the words “nursing” or “work” are mentioned in the same sentence.  So how do you explain the complexity of nursing to people, especially when they ask such a non-assuming, simple questions such as, “How’s work?”

I’ve decided to say “eff it” to words and just hand them a chart instead:

Nursing Flowchart

As you can see, there are two sides of nursing: the hospital itself and the personal aspect.  Each one can be influenced by shared factors such as patient behavior/attitude, administration, management style, how deep HR’s tentacles slither into your day-to-day activities, the ever-ending ridiculous amount of documentation, doctors you are in contact with regularly, your team of nurses, level of anxiety/stress/pressure placed on you and around you on a consistent basis, nurse to patient ratio (or, staffing situation), pay versus energy expended (or, is it worth it?), personal stressors, amount of sleep, amount of support at home… shall I continue?


What’s most sad is knowing that if you do this job right, you will run yourself into the ground.  You can’t possibly provide continuously safe, compassionate care while simultaneously meeting all the bureaucratic requirements placed on you.  At some point, for your own sanity, you will have to sacrifice something.  What I have noticed nurse sacrifice first is their documentation.  They just flat out chart things they didn’t do.  This includes assessments, pain levels, or time frames in the chart.  For instance, if you forget to re-assess a patient’s pain level after pain med administration, you better add a time column and chart the patient “reports a lower pain level”  now (whether the patient reported that or not) otherwise management will call you in for missing documentation.

Nursing is hard because it constantly forces you to fight for your morality in a system that invites corruption under the guise of “patient satisfaction.”

I also notice nurses stop caring, and who can blame them.  It’s impossible to care all day, every day, especially when so many patients are disgusting, rude and downright annoying.  They act entitled, like the hospital is a hotel, and many of them put themselves where they are (uh, hello? you have heart disease cause you smoke, you idiot!)  It’s hard to care for someone you don’t think deserves it.

I can already feel these tendencies creeping up on me.  I do fight against it and there are some things I will not budge on, ever.  But I would be lying if I said I have never stared at those little boxes on the screen, weighing the importance of doing the right thing against what I know is required.

Can you please allow me to say it once?  Just once:

I really don’t like this job.