My boyfriend is a cardiac nurse, working on his Master’s degree, and he loves his job. There are days, of course, when it’s a challenge, when he loses a patient or when his thesis seems overwhelming. It’s such an important profession, since nurses actually spend so much more time with patients than doctors do, and provide more personal care. So if you’re considering nursing as a profession, here’s some advice from my boyfriend, a nurse of 15 years… here are 7 pros and cons of becoming a nurse.
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Almost every day, my boyfriend comes home with stories of the patients he’s helped, and most of the time, he’s uplifted by their courage, and he’s so happy he could probably extend their lives by helping their very sick hearts. But on other days, he’s deeply saddened, usually because he’s lost one of them. That’s the emotional toll of being a nurse — inevitably, one of your patients will die, and it can be very sad. He says he keeps at it because for every patient he loses, he’s helped save a hundred or more, and they make it worthwhile.
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Being a nurse isn’t easy, especially if you choose a challenging field. But there is a lot of reward in excelling in one of these fields, even though it keeps you on our toes. Being a cardiac nurse, as opposed to a dermatology nurse, may be a little stressful, so if you don’t handle daily challenge or stress well, it’s best to choose a field that’s not as life-and-death every day, or consider that you may not be cut out for nursing at all.
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Society at large sees the value or nursing, and tends to hold nurses in the same everyday-hero regard as policemen, teachers, and firefighters more than doctors. But it’s still considered a bit odd for men to be nurses, and especially 15 years ago, when my boyfriend began practicing, people make jokes. Oh, well. He DOES look cute in scrubs!
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In general, nurses make good salaries, and have excellent benefits packages, but the cost of education to become a nurse can go well into the tens of thousands, maybe even more if you decide to do graduate work.
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If you’re a good nurse in a specialty field and practice you love, then chances are, you’ll stay at that hospital or practice for your entire career. But if all of these factors haven’t come together, the stresses may add up, and you, or some of your teammates, may leave… there is a very high turnover rate among nurses for exactly those reasons. In fact, even nursing administrators, who don’t typically work with patients, can feel burned out!
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Like other skilled professions, there’s a ladder of certification and degrees of nursing, and progressing through these is very rewarding, personally, professionally, and in terms of salary. But again, the cost of education to progress through these degrees is very expensive…
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For every specialty, there are a team of nurses who make it their life’s work. But it may be difficult to find a specialty you love, and can relate to, and once you do, it may be difficult to change from one specialty to another. Finding the specialty you love is hard enough, but switching once you’ve become known as, and have done most of your work as a particular type of work, is difficult. In other words, once you’ve started as cardiac or pediatric nurse, it may be difficult to become a geriatric or emergency-care nurse.
If you’re thinking that nursing may be the profession for you, please consider these things before you start down that expensive, but incredibly important and rewarding path. Or maybe you’ve read through these pros and cons and now you know for certain that you want to be a nurse! Or, even, are you a nurse, or a nursing student? Do you have any other pros and cons or considerations to share?
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