Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interview: Registered Nurse

Are you considering a career in Nursing? Read On!!!

Triogenius spoke with Carrie, a Registered Nurse, about what it's like to complete nursing school and to be an RN.

Major and degree you earned: 
Major: Nursing. Degree earned: Baccalaureate in Science-Nursing
College you graduated from:
Winona State University
Occupation:  Registered Nurse
Job Title: Registered Nurse (Staff Nurse)
You work for a  A Large Metropolitan Hospital
How did you decide on your major or career?  
I was always interested in both science and psychology.  I knew that I definitely wanted to work with people, and that I wanted to work in a challenging, fast-paced environment.
What was the coursework like in college?
The college coursework was very difficult.  Earning a degree in nursing is extremely stressful, time consuming, and emotionally draining.  When you’re not at class, you’re studying.  When you’re not studying, you’re at clinicals.  When you are miraculously not doing any of the above, you’re preparing for the next class, presentation, clinical, written test, or going to open lab to practice the skills that you will be tested on.
What was your first job after college?  What path did you follow to get to the job you do now?
My first job after college was the one that I currently have.  I have been working in this job role for about 5 years.  Once you graduate from nursing school, you have to pass your Nursing Board Exam before you can start at most jobs.
What advice would you have for someone starting college in this major?
Nursing school is rough, and it will take everything you have.  The journey of getting through nursing school will force you to make sacrifices in your personal life.  Particularly in the last year of nursing school, many people find it difficult to hold a job in addition to their coursework, and there will be days, evenings and weekends when you have to complete clinicals, projects, and studying.  Make sure that your family and friends know that you are about to take on a huge challenge, and that they will have to be patient and understanding.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently in college?
Hindsight is always 20/20, but if I had to pick something, I would say that I wish I would have been more proactive in gaining as many nursing experiences as I could.  While I gained a lot of great experience in school, I see nursing students working on my unit who are very vocal and inquisitive about various patient care experiences and learning opportunities.  I was not shy, but also not overly vocal about requesting information and experience during my clinical time.  The more you see during school, the less lost you will feel once you’re at your first job.
What exactly do you do on a daily basis?
As a staff nurse working in a hospital, you can never predict how your day is going to go or what you’re going to do.  You never have 2 days that are the same.  Obviously I provide care to patients who are experiencing medical issues or who have had surgery.  Nursing involves a lot of critical thinking and assessment, patient and family education, technical skills, and managing the care of your patients.  This means advocating for your patients and often acting as a liaison between your patients and their families, the social workers, the physicians, the therapists, and anyone else who may be involved in the patient’s care.
Do you have any other roles you play at work?
Yes!!  As a nurse, you sometimes find yourself acting as if you’re a psychologist, a social worker, a waitress, a telephone answering service, a transportation assistant, a pharmacist, a mediator, and a whole list of other things.  It’s never boring!
What do you like most about the job you have?
I like that I meet new people every day.  There is nothing else like entering the life of someone you’ve never met, earning their trust, helping them through whatever their struggle may be, and sending them on their way.  Feeling like you’ve made a difference in someone’s life is the most rewarding part of being a nurse.
What do you like least, or is most frustrating?
For as many wonderful people that you meet, you meet your share of angry, ungrateful, unhappy people as well. Also, it is difficult to accept that even though you have spent a great deal of time advocating for and helping your patients, some of them will forget everything you’ve told them by the time they get home from the hospital.
Is this job stressful? Why?
Nursing is a very stressful job.  You will never feel like you have enough time to do everything you want to do for your patients.  In a typical day, I have 3-4 patients.  That means that not only do I have 3-4 patients to take care of, but I also have 3-4 families to take care of, and 3-4 sets of care teams to coordinate with.  If something is not going well or a mistake is made, it’s not just my job that is affected- it’s someone’s life.
What else can you do with a major or degree in Nursing? What are some other health care careers?
With a 2 or 4 year degree in nursing, you can work in most hospital inpatient settings as a staff (bedside) nurse.  Many nursing jobs other than bedside nursing jobs require that you have a 4 year degree.  With a 4 year degree, you have opportunities to work in Public Health, Home Care Nursing, and Occupational Health Nursing (going to workplaces and completing nursing assessments).  With a 4 year degree, you can also work towards being an assistant nurse manager, a care coordinator, a clinical nurse educator, a nurse case manager, or other leadership positions. 
What kind of person would be the most suitable for this career? The least?
To be successful at and enjoy nursing, the most suitable people would be those who are very flexible, both in lifestyle and in mindset.  Unless you wish to pursue a more leadership nursing position, you will likely work unconventional hours, including evenings, overnights, weekends, and holidays.  You have to be ok with the fact that at the start of your day, you will create a specific plan, and it may completely fall apart after 2 hours.  If you are a very rigidly organized person, nursing will be a challenge. 
Nursing is a suitable career for people who want to continue to learn throughout their career, and who are not afraid of the notion that you will never know everything.  Healthcare is ever-changing, and you have to be willing to keep up with the fast pace.

What is the job outlook for nursing right now?

Availability and demand are starting to meet up, but there are still more nurses than people are hiring. As this new health care reform begins to take place many people in the healthcare world think that RNs will be in higher demand, as they cost less to employ than advanced practice people.

Is there anything you want to tell students about this major and career?
Nursing school is not fun.  Being a nurse is very rewarding, but not without its price.  Being a nurse in real life has nothing in common with being a nurse on tv.

Thanks to Carrie for her insights!

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