5 Truths about Nursing you Rarely Hear


2954679547_42c22afd44So you want to be a nurse? Well my first instinct is to say “No! Don’t do it!” Yet here I am still nursing after 34 years so that seems kind of paradoxical. There must be something to it after all. So perhaps the best advice I can give to anyone looking at nursing as a career is what I see as the truths about nursing.

5 Truths About Nursing.

Truth No. 1: Be prepared for a career full of mess! Yes – you will spend a lot of years studying and preparing to be a registered nurse, as well as extra study on post graduate specialist qualifications. So there you are full of knowledge and specialist expertise and yet on a daily basis your job mostly entails cleaning up patients mess, doctors’ mess and upper management mess!

The patient mess is the easiest mess of all and most nurses don’t begrudge that mess for a minute. The doctor and upper management mess is another matter altogether and this mess causes the greatest amount of  grumpiness and irritation to the consummate professional nurse. This mess cleaning is the absurd complexity of being a nurse and why our expertise is so underestimated. Most people don’t usually expect a highly qualified professional to clean up so much of everyone’s s***!

Truth No. 2: Nursing is always interesting. This is because you never know what ‘s going to happen next. No matter where you practice as a  nurse you can never ever predict what will happen while you’re at work. That’s because we work with people and people are notoriously tricky especially when they are sick. Doesn’t matter whether you’re in acute health care or community health care, you can come to work and know that sad, funny, annoying, delightful, exciting and mundane encounters await you. All nurses can recount a story in any genre including comedy (evidence the fart stories), drama, tragedy, crime (read your NMB mag), science fiction (evidence robo-nurse) even ecological (evidence the now endangered species Nursus Careous Muchas).

Truth No. 3: Yes – Doctors really secretly do think they are more important than nurses. I can only see one answer to this truth and this is that nurses must infiltrate undergraduate medical training programs and instruct student doctors on how to work in an integrated health team without trying to be the leader with the belief that they know better than everyone else. Nurse education must also include the learning of the such empowering phrases as “yes – you too can clean up your own mess, because I’m also doing some pretty important stuff over here as well”.

Truth No. 4: Nurses can indeed fix everthing. Yes, nurses really are the most handy-dandy members on the health team. A nurse is a whiz at scrounging and adapting limited health resources to fit any and all needs of the health team, finding everyone’s lost items, coming up with a reason or an answer for any question no matter how ridiculous, remembering everything about the last 625 patients that have passed them by, answering phones and writing notes at the same time and being able to find a replacement within 10 minutes for someone calling in sick.

Truth No. 5: Nurses are eternally optimistic that they can make a difference to people’s health as well as the health system – and that’s why with great good humour and perseverence nurses keeps on nursing.

What about you? What are your truths about nursing?

Image credit: Flickr


  1. Great Read Fran! Yes Fran I really enjoyed your article and all of your truths rang true for me as well especially #5 where we are as a profession a pretty optimistic bunch and that is what often keeps us going during difficult times.

    #6 for me would be that you get to work with a pretty amazing group of people who are your nursing workmates.


  2. I loved it! I totally agree with what you said Fran. The moment I stepped into nursing, I knew I’m in for a lot of mess and a lot of excitement also. I love the fact that nurses can adapt to change that quick.

  3. thanks Ruth and Rich – and I agree one of the best parts of nursing are the other nurses. I’ve been in multidisciplinary teams as the only nurse and it’s really lonely not to be able to speak “nurse-ise” with someone.

  4. #6 on weekends an public holidays, the title nurse becomes a bit hazy. you also take on the roles of physio, OT, and discharge planner so that high quality care is still given.

  5. I think that Rich is right we are a pretty optimistic bunch usually.I am very lucky to have a terrific group of colleagues .We support each other through all the ups and downs ,Only one problem they can all usually tell if I am up to mischief.

  6. Fran’s 5 truths I just loved this eloquent post that summed up nursing so well. Rich is right – nurses are just amazing people.


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