Things no one ever told me about what it is like to be a nurse:
Working in a hospital means 12 hour shifts, three days a week. But you will then spend another two days each week feeling hung over.
If you get a job caring for patients on a hospital floor, you won't need to understand anything you learned in chemistry. But learn why having too much TSH identifies hypothyroidism. It really is something you will probably need to understand, and be able to explain to your patients.
The better the hospital, the more shit the nurses themselves have to wipe off their patients' asses. The days of nurses' aides doing all the dirty work are over.
When you do cpr, there is no soundtrack playing like in "Grey's Anatomy." It isn't exciting. It is stressful and sad, partially because it usually doesn't work.
Pressure stockings are magic, for both you and your patients. You will eliminate hours of leg pain if you wear them. Just remember, if your patients are wearing them, take them off for an hour every day to take pressure off the skin. And when you peel them off your patient, cover your mouth and nose, because edema damages skin and it sheds off, and a lot of dry skin will fly through the air when you pull off those stockings. When you breathe in a chunk of that, you won't feel clean for days.
An LPN and an RN are different. LPNs usually work in nursing homes, and doctors' offices. Both places can be great jobs, but RNs make more money. RNs usually work in hospitals. The main difference between RNs and BSNs is...honestly, I'm still not sure. Don't worry about it, you can get a job with an RN associate's degree. Not everywhere, but a lot of good hospitals don't care. And the nursing care at the jankiest hospital should, and can, be exactly the same as the fanciest hospital, so take pride in your work and be nice to people, no matter where you work.
If you are nice to your patients, sometimes they will come back and bring you cake. And those hugs, while they are trying to balance some cake without dropping it as they hug you, have an energy that feels really good.
Never talk to geriatric patients like they are kids. Their mental processes may have declined, but they are still adults, and they understand more than they can communicate. Although it helps to slow down. Practice this with your friends: speak slowly, but not in a condescending way. It is really difficult to find the balance.
In job interviews, ask what your nurse-to-patient ratio should be. Then after the manager gives you an answer, ask again, what it is really. If you have more than 1:6, unless you are desperate for a job, it may be best to look for a job elsewhere. Hospital administrators will sacrifice providing nurses for patient care to save money, and then blame nurses when patients complain. FYI: Texas and Florida hospitals are notorious for giving nurses too many patients.
If your patient is in labor, give her an enema and then tell her to walk herself to the bathroom for a little while. It makes everything a lot more pleasant. The baby will not end up in the toilet.
Psych patients know they are crazy. You don't need to talk to them as if they don't know it. But patients with dementia or Alzheimer's Disease are not psych patients. It's quite different. For example, notice I separated "dementia" and "Alzheimer's Disease." Even those are not the same situation.
Family members of patients are far crazier than anyone in the psych ward.
If you learn how to read an ekg strip, you will make a lot more money than other hospital nurses. At least learn the three lethal rhythms.
There is no addiction stronger than an American's addiction to fast food. And those addicts somehow legitimize it by drinking a Diet Coke. Patients will be in a hospital bed, with heart failure, and they will still ask family members to bring them some fast food, with a Diet Coke. You will never get through to these people, so don't try. But document it as "Patient is non-compliant with diet." And let them see you documenting every hamburger wrapper and french fry container in the room. THAT will make them behave, a little.
Male nurses are usually expected to do more heavy lifting than female nurses. This is total bullshit. Equal pay means equal work. Correction: equal pay means equal effort. They have to at least try to help.
Two words: "travel nursing."
When you unplug a gastric feeding tube, bend the tube to kink it before you unplug it. Gas in the intestines often bubbles back up and you don't want one of those bubbles to pop out of the tube while you are leaning over it to attach a syringe or something. Gross.
Wounds can smell really bad. Like, so bad, you start to panic.
If you work on a hospital floor, you may be asked to hook up a bag of morphine to a patient's IV line, with the intention of killing the patient.
If you give someone a bed bath, you will probably use disposable cloths. But bring a tub of warm water and a washcloth and wash the patient's face and back with it, just because it feels good. And otherwise, the patient will tell everyone he/she never got bathed.
The respiratory therapists will be your favorite people in the hospital because they will suction the mucous out of your patients' trach tubes.
Narcotic pain medication is a wonderful tool to use, and we in America are lucky that we get to use it. A lot of countries do not. But a portion of your work day, as a nurse in America, will be spent giving those legalized narcotics to drug addicts who go to the E.R. with fabricated/exaggerated medical conditions just so they can get drugs for a few days. And those drug addicts are very selfish. They have no problem manipulating you for as long as it takes to get more drugs, which keeps you from taking care of your other patients who are actually in pain.
Be careful which coworkers you ask for help. Pay attention to the nurses who like sports. They comprehend the concept of "teamwork." And they won't talk shit about you behind your back. This is REASON NUMBER ONE that getting girls to play sports when they are young is beneficial.
If your charge nurse sucks, ignore him/her. If the doctor taking care of your patients sucks, quit immediately.
Alcohol detox is hideous. Learn the stages of alcohol withdrawl so you can chart them for your patients correctly. And never turn your back on a detox patient. You may end up with a plastic tooth.