As anyone who knows me knows, I love being a nurse. I really do. It’s what I’m meant to do and I can’t imagine what other career I would be in if I weren’t a nurse. But there is something about nursing that I don’t think the general public is aware of. It’s hard work. And I’m not complaining about that. I accept that fact as just part of the whole gig. But it is not a profession for the wimpy or lazy. I don’t mean just physically hard. I mean mentally draining at times, too. The physically hard part is the walking (or sometimes running) from room to room, lifting patients, transfering them out of bed and back into bed, repositioning them in bed, all of that. Then the mentally tiring part is the constant pressure to meet the needs of a group of usually five to six patients for eight hours straight. And frequently two or three or even the whole group may have needs to be met all at once. (Ok, so that part of nursing may not be so different than being a parent or a handful of other careers that I can think of.) Besides the needs of your patients you also have phone calls and new orders from physicians to act on. So you have to be very good at prioritizing. And then there are the family members… The majority of time, family members are just great and helpful and it’s nice to have them there. But once in a while you can have the family member or member(s) from hell. The ones who think their loved one is in a hotel, not a hospital. The demanding ones who want you to be at their beck and call every moment. I completely understand that it’s scary to have your loved one ill enough to have to be in the hospital. And I understand they’re maybe not at their best under that stress. But the other side of that coin is that as much as I would like to devote all of my attention to their loved one, I have four or five other patients to also care for and THEIR loved ones feel they deserve the same amount of attention. And I agree with them. So a good nurse is definitely a diplomat. Soothing ruffled feathers is just a part of the job. I know this may sound up to this point like I don’t actually like my job so much. But that’s really not true. I do. I had a shift one night that was just a disaster… one problem after another to deal with, crazy-busy, short staffed that night, just a Murphy’s Law kind of night. And I very clearly remember thinking “I still wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.” After almost eleven years of nursing I still get excited to go to work and learn new things every night. The fulfilling part is the happy stuff… The patient who had a stroke who calls you into their room at 4 am to show you how much better they can move the side that had been previously almost completely flaccid because they know you’ll be as happy about it as they are. Or the patient’s sister who thanks you for being with her sister while she took her last breath. Or just a simple “Thank you for being my nurse” from a patient. The reward to nursing is knowing you are making some degree of difference in the lives of your patients. Maybe not a huge, life altering difference, but some difference. To my way of thinking, that’s a pretty huge reward. And it’s what keeps me coming back night after night, year after year.