August 3, 2011, 12:15 pm

So, You REALLY Want To Be A Nurse?

Editor Kitty is pretty funny!

Actually, I’ll be hanging out with a bunch of “Editor Kitties” tomorrow!

I’m giving a talk on “Getting Started in the Blogosphere” at the annual conference of the International Academy of Nurse Editors, held at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco.

Check out their initals: INANE! πŸ˜€ Something tells me this is a fun group of folks!

Wish me luck. My biggest fear is they will introduce me and I’ll stand there with my mouth open and nothing will come out for an hour! Or all they will hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher: wah wah wah-wah wah…. πŸ˜€


I have a new blog! I’m now blogging over at – my first post went up this week. The site just underwent a revamping as did the blog, and I’m looking forward to posting twice a week on nursing education and other nursing related topics. I’ll be earning my MSN eventually, so this was a perfect fit for me! Learning new html stuff, too! It was bound to find me! LOL!


And if it looks like my MacBookPro is smokin’, well, it’s because it is!

I’m in blog heaven!

Twice a month you can find me at, where I am writing about my recent experiences in the job market (and my hard-earned education in what NOT to do!).

The easiest way to find me is to subscribe to the newsletter.


You want to be a registered nurse?

Let’s cut through the B.S. and get real about it.

Put a hold on all this soft-focus “I live to care!” or “It gives my life meaning…”

Here’s the reality.


You will study your ass off.

Nursing science is based on biology, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology and philosophy. Yeah, every single one of them. You will incorporate those into every decision you make in your practice. It’s called critical thinking. You master it and become a professional, or you don’t and you become a robotic technician.

Bottom line.

Your choice.

Oh, and the studying doesn’t stop after you graduate. Nursing school is just the warm-up.


The work is physically exhausting and emotionally demanding.

Are you tiny, petite? No? Neither am I and neither are your patients. You will push, pull, lift, turn, transport and transfer loads you wouldn’t even consider attempting at a gym. The lightest patient is dead weight when bedridden.

You probably won’t get a chance to eat. Need to pee? Should have thought of that before you left.

Legs that weigh 500 pounds each, feet that throb, backs that ache – welcome home after your shift. Give that ibuprofen bottle a hug; it’s your best friend.

Patients die. You are tough; it doesn’t bother you. But on your way home it hits that someone’s mother won’t be making Christmas dinner next week or you remember the father collapsing in your arms when his daughter was pronounced…

And you cry.

It sucks.

You really want to deal with that?


You’re first in opinion polls and first on the firing line.

Oh yes, the public loves nurses.

Until you are the nurse.

Patients get pissed off. They are tired, in pain, hungry, cold, upset, frustrated, agitated, ticked off at the doctor, bad food, had to wait. Guess what. YOU get the brunt of it. Family members, too. Decades of emotional baggage and they have to show they care for the patient by yelling at the RN.

In twenty different languages!

YOU are the one through which all things come, and never fast enough! Including explanations for why every single department in the hospital is behind, late, inept. My favorite is fielding questions as to why Doctor Holy Mother hasn’t shown up yet.

And when she does, expect to be totally ignored.


Body fluids.

If the body produces it, you will handle it. Feces (insert your own euphemism here); vomit; blood; infectious exudate, aka “pus”; vaginal drainage of every sort; amniotic fluid; saliva in the form of spit directed at your person and whatever secretions a trachea is producing on a given day.

Each fluid comes complete with it’s own odor. None of them are pleasant. Often, when these body fluids occur in combination, their odors combine to produce a new and distinct aroma. When alcohol has been consumed and is in the process of being metabolized even more unique olfactory combinations ensue.

Some of these linger and will come home with you, as they seem to settle in your hair and skin, even without contact.

You will gag and most likely at one time or another you will vomit yourself.

Just keepin’ it real here, folks.

If you are lucky, you will be wearing protective gear when said handling occurs.

Other times, all you can do is duck and pray.



They come from various state and federal agencies. You can be sure of one thing: they will make your job as a registered nurse harder.


And if it shouldn’t, like nurse-patient ratios, the administration will find a way to turn it around and use it against you. That is a whole post in and of itself.

Ostensibly they are all for patient safety, but in reality they exist because somewhere, someone does not want to reimburse for something and so ponderous regulatory hoops will be put into place before the money will flow, usually in the form of “documentation”. New forms, new regulations, more work, less patient care…

Makes ducking body fluids seem like a Disneyland “E” ticket….


So, you still here?


You must really want to be a nurse.

Okay, then.

Oh, and all that soft-focus stuff?

About living to care and giving life meaning?

It’s true.

We’ll talk about that in another post.

Just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page….


  • Candy

    August 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Well put! This is definitely (in a NASCAR reference, for your benefit) where the rubber meets the road. Good words — every would-be nurse should read this before applying to nursing school. If you scare them off, good for the profession — we need people who are clear-headed about what they’re doing, not those living in some fantasy about becoming the next Flo!

  • Rachel

    August 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Good luck tomorrow!

    (If only I’d seen this post before I went through with nursing pre-reqs a few years back…)

  • NPs Save Lives

    August 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Great post Kim!

  • […] Definitely worth reading if you’re thinking of becoming a nurse or are already there. Click here for the […]

  • Virginia

    August 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Well done with your description of nurses ADL’s in a hospital setting, and it does not matter what unit you are on. I worked in the Emergency Dept as Asst. Nurse Manager and you forgot the most important thing. They never have enough staff. Forget it if they have a disaster for example a fire. You must leave the building carrying a patient. I just finished my Master’s Degree in Nursing. My project focused on improving the Standards of Nursing Practice, and the CEO stated they will never institute this change in their facility. Why? She could not provide the staffing. Mean while the Board of Trustee’s approved it to go hospital wide. Could you imagine our own Nursing Leaders will not opt to help our nurses. Why? Most of these superviors, managers,CEO never worked long enough to know how hard nurses work all day. I still love nursing. It’s one of the most respected professions. I just wish that nursing adminstration would help us when making changes.

  • Ray J Ross

    August 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this and so, so true! I have been doing this since 1987 moving my way up the food chain from Orderly (old school), LPN and now RN. It has and still continues to be a wild ride, but begs the question, “When do I want to get off?”

  • Autumn

    August 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Great post! You forgot to mention the good stuff that makes all the crap worth it (and I’m not referring to the paychecks) tho….or maybe that’s the part that is coming in another blog?

  • Christine McIlmail

    August 5, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Loved your blog and laughed and cried. Still at it for 37 years , still love it but my kness are mad at me. Yes I am PROUD to call myself a NURSE.

  • Chris

    August 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Printed out and pasted to the mirror to be read daily…can’t say now I wasn’t warned… Thanks !

  • Rhonda

    August 12, 2011 at 7:11 am

    LOVE your blog πŸ™‚ I too am a 32 yr veteran of nursing, mostly ER and critical care………I can sooooo relate.

  • […] blog post was originally published at Emergiblog* Related […]

  • David

    August 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Great blog post! Reality check… real nurses deal with these things because they see the human picture. Thanks for your dedication! In your experience, have you worked PRN very much? Providers define PRN staff in so many ways, it confuses nurses. Any suggestions?

  • PRN Nurse

    August 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I work PRN regularly. Some providers use PRN it like on-call. PRN is typically as needed to supplement. I do a lot of Hospice Crisis Care because hospices can’t fill their Crisis needs with FT staff. And I have found that I can make a higher hourly rate if I contract directly with the Hospice or Facility versus going through a staffing agency. I found this site that helps me find jobs when I’m available. I maintain my resume there, and can send it to anyone, when a PRN job arises. Anyhow, I recommend it.

  • ErRanter

    September 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    will miss the posts. Someone had mentioned earlier about the good stuff. It is there, you just need to sift through the bad. It is still rewarding to me.

  • John Conway

    April 24, 2012 at 7:51 am

    As a new recruit in the military one of the lessons learned was to respect medical staff. It was at the height of the Viet Nam war and the possibility of suddenly finding yourself in close proximity to a nurse was pretty high. Luckily I avoided any major injury then and have been fortunate to avoid all but relatively minor ER visits so far in these 65 years of life. But every time I meet a nurse, it’s with a smile and not a little awe.

  • Haley Brosig

    September 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you so much! I am currently a freshman at college and this post helped me decide that nursing is the job for me πŸ™‚

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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