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What You'll Never Understand About Being a Nurse
The Deceit of Health Care
I was just like most other young adults at the age of 18 and I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life in the realm of career paths. It had been weighing on my mind for roughly two years and was starting to really worry me. My mother was the person who first turned me on to the idea of becoming a registered nurse. Some thirty-odd years prior she was a working registered nurse in a local hospital in New York by where she grew up in Yonkers. I can remember her telling me the many stories of the hospital and how filled with drama and excitement she'd get while acting out the stories that were a part of her life as a nurse on a 40 bed unit. I always found it interesting how, through her job she met my father, who was working at the post office and was stabbed with a screwdriver while trying to break up a fight (which is a whole other story in itself). The stories were always so light and cheerful, and there was always a positive ending that created an aura around the medical field that I had grown to love.
I made the decision. I was going to complete the Associates Degree Nursing program at Brevard Community College and begin my career from there. Nursing school was only as tough as the students made it. You'll hear a lot of people talk about how difficult and impossible at times the nursing program can be. I found that if you were able to manage your time with the plethora of assignments every week, that there was always time to enjoy life. On graduation day I was ready to take on the world. I knew that my schooling had just begun, but I was one step closer to beginning the career of my dreams.... right? I was so ready to hold c-spine while turning an accident victim, work hand-in-hand with the doctors at the bedside and end every day with a high-five and a "job well done!"
It took me only a few short months on my first medical/surgical orthopedic unit to realize that all of the glam and glitz of nursing could only be seen in the over-dramatized television series that portrayed sexy men and women rushing around the hospital from one case to the next as typical nurses. What I saw in the real world was mostly older, overweight and unenthusiastic individuals moving from room to room with pain medication and utilizing all of the rest of their time to chart so that they could cover their asses if there was ever a lawsuit. My mother hadn't told me about that. She didn't tell me that 80% of the day was spent in a medication room or sitting in front of a monitor charting the way that a judge would need to be able to understand in a courtroom.
I was angry. I felt as though I had wasted my time. This is NOT what I told the police officer I wanted to be at the age of 7 "when I grow up." I confronted my mother and asked her why she told me stories and filled my head with tales of people that cared for other individuals and people laying in hospital beds that were truly sick and actually wanted to get better. My mother told me that things had changed. It was clear as day, too. The patients that were laying in most of the beds weren't sick, but they definitely wanted pain medication. The nurses weren't at the bedside talking with their patients and getting to know their past, but sitting at desks charting information on patients that they had no idea about. What had happened in those years between that changed everything?
The technological boom that health care saw was extremely helpful in facilitating time management for nurses. It helped to not only make sure that a permanent copy of the patient's records were on file, but it made medication administration safer and allowed for entering large amounts of information about a patient right at the tip of your finger. The patient population from my mother's era to now has seemed to change as well. People went to the hospital when they were sick and needed help to get back to health, my mother had described to me. Nowadays patients show up to the emergency department with a stubbed toe and expect to be put in a hospital bed for several days and receive narcotics around the clock. I've seen patient's go so far as to set alarm clocks throughout the night to make sure that they received all of their "as needed" pain medication as soon as it's available.
Luckily, I never stopped going to school. I'm currently in the process of achieving my Master's Degree in Family Nurse Practitioner. Although, as a floor nurse, I do not have much time to converse with my clients and care for them the way I wish that I could, becoming an Advacned Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) will give me a platform so that I can live out my original goals and aspirations. I still believe that I can make a difference in my community and I'm going to keep working at it until I am.