The Pros and Cons of Nursing (page 4)

Updated on Dec 8, 2010

Salary Ceilings

The starting salaries are excellent, but seasoned nurses often hit a ceiling where the only salary increase they receive is a cost-of-living raise.

Long Hours

Working just two or three days a week sounds fantastic, but 12-hour shifts can take their toll. Eight-hour shifts can grow into 10 or 12 with overtime, which may help financially but can be exhausting physically, especially if the overtime is mandated.

The pros and cons of nursing extend into the student experience. The life of a nursing student is quite different from most other majors. Time is at a premium, and practicum experiences can be life-changing, for both client and student.

Nursing Notes

Content with Compromise, by Isabel Roitman

I live in a house filled with 23 girls. Of the 23, 22 of them are not nursing students. To say the least, I am a minority. My life is a little different than theirs.

When the other girls wake up to the noise of pans clattering and the toaster ticking, they remember it's just me, making breakfast at 6:30 A.M. before my clinical rotation at the nursing home. They go back to sleep; I shove my half-cooked egg sandwich into my mouth and run out the door. I start my car, pick up my friend Rachel, another nursing student, and we make our way to the nursing home, rushing to make it in the sliding doors by 7:00 A.M. We meet our patient and by 9:00 A.M., my partner and I have given our patient a complete bed bath and fed her breakfast. By 10:00 A.M. we have dressed our patient. By 11:00 A.M., all the students meet in the conference room of the nursing home to debrief with our instructor. We share funny stories, sad stories, and shocking stories from the day; we reflect on our actions; and we give each other support. We say good-bye to our patients, leave the facility, and head over to campus for our next class that begins at 1:00 P.M. Although we'd all love to go back and curl up in our warm, comfortable beds, we continue our day. But then I remember that jumping on the college life bandwagon and skipping a class is not an option for a student prepping for the nursing field. It's not an option because what I learn today will save a life tomorrow.

There are times when I wake up and wish I could sleep in or wish I could stay up later chatting and laughing with my friends about nonsense. Sometimes I even wish I could forget the painful cries I've heard at the nursing home. Yet it never seems to escape me the grateful smile my patient had as we repositioned her helpless body, or the smile one of my friends had after I cleaned a cut of his, stopped the bleeding, and bandaged it. I also then remember why I decided to join this crazy life in the first place. Like the well-known poet and musician, Niccolo Machiavelli, once wrote, "the end justifies the means." I realize that my journey to become a nurse, although a great compromise at times, will eventually lead me to my dream.

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