When you enter a rewarding career in registered nursing, there is a vast amount of personal and professional knowledge you learn quickly on the job. You’ll have a distinct set of common experiences with other nurses that no one outside of the field will be able to fully grasp. Whether you’re still in nursing school, just entering the workforce or have been nursing for decades, here are the top ten things that only nurses will understand:
1. The satisfaction of a job well done
There’s nothing better than having a patient say thank you after you’ve put in a lot of long hours to ensure they receive the best care. Nursing is certainly a fast-paced and demanding profession, but the reward of knowing you’ve made a difference with your patients makes it all worthwhile.
2. Everything about their patients
According to a 2012 national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 96 percent of nurse practitioners provide direct patient care.1 Furthermore, this survey found that 76 percent of the nurse practitioner workforce holds a specialty certification in primary care. These high percentages highlight the profession-wide desire by nurses to interact with patients as much as possible and be a major part of their bedside care.
3. Balancing Act: Time Management
For nurses, efficiently and effectively providing care on every shift is just the beginning. Nurses often balance work, family, professional development and other obligations to make the most of every spare moment. Sure, other people live busy and hectic lifestyles too, but unless you’re a nurse, odds are you don’t have the same understanding of time management.
4. The difference four hours makes
There’s been a fair amount of research focusing on the average shift length for nurses. There’s a big difference between being on your feet for 12 or 16 hours, and these lengthy shifts have raised some concern over patient safety, and hence a call by many for institutional change. A 2012 study published in Health Affairs found that shifts 10 hours or more led nurses to burnout and less overall job satisfaction.2 Nurses know that they need to be cognizant of their hours and make sure that they are in top form to provide the best patient care when they are working.
5. The importance of comfortable shoes
There are numerous clogs and other styles of shoes specifically designed with nurses in mind. If you’re going to be on your feet for 12 hours or more, it’s imperative to have shoes that can stand up to the job. Of course, every nurse will have an individual shoe preference depending on factors such as foot shape and professional needs. Nurses need shoes that will provide proper support and comfort during long shifts, provide good traction and that can generally stand up to any clinical setting.
6. All of your friends’ and family members’ medical issues
Once you become a registered nurse you can pretty much expect that your friends and family will consider you an endless source of medical knowledge. If a loved one has an illness, injury or weird click in their knee, they’ll likely seek out your advice.
7. That it’s possible to get a lot done on little sleep
Nurses work demanding shifts, usually for 12-hour intervals. Those who work the night shift may be used to staying up for as long as 24 hours at a time. Nurses can get a lot done on no sleep; however, research shows that it’s important to develop a regular sleep cycle to prevent disrupting circadian rhythms.3
8. The strict silence required during charting
It has always been extremely important for nurses, physicians and other medical personnel to be able to accurately chart and code patient information. As more clinics and hospitals implement electronic health records, this task becomes increasingly imperative, considering that EHRs provide alerts and notifications to better the quality of patient care. Silence is golden when nurses are focusing on charting.
9. The many uses of Vick’s® VapoRub®
Nurses are prepared for smells of all varieties. Since the medical potpourri of a clinical setting isn’t always pleasant, lining a mask with Vick’s VapoRub can make all the difference.
10. There’s no McDreamy in the real world
While Patrick Dempsey looks great in a lab coat, you likely won’t find him sauntering around your place of work. After all, the man needs time to be a television actor, race car driver and Seattle coffee mogul.4
1 “National sample survey of nurse practitioners,” Department of Health and Human Services. http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/supplydemand/nursing/nursepractitionersurvey/
2 “The longer The shifts for hospital nurses, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction,” by Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, Douglas M. Sloane, and Linda H. Aiken, Health Affairs, November 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608421/
3 “Sleep strategy used by night nurses throws off their circadian clocks,” by David Salisbury, Research News at Vanderbilt, April 14, 2011. http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2011/04/nurse-sleep-circadian-clocks/
4 “Patrick Dempsey: Winning bid for coffee-shop chain ‘just felt right'” CNN, January 5, 2013. http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/04/showbiz/patrick-dempsey-coffee-chain/index.html?hpt=hp_t2