Scaring nursing students

Poor Chloe happened upon my post Cost of Nursing School and got creeped:

I just happened to luck upon your post and now I can say that you made me scared. I’m starting nursing school on Monday!

This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder whether to write things "how it is" or not. We need nurses on the floor, and I don't want to scare any of them off; however, nursing school does suck unbelievably, and I might have been better prepared had I known that. Might. I can't say. I also might have ignored everyone's advice and done what I wanted anyway.

This profession in general seems extremely, well, extreme. My bad times are very, very bad. Sob in the car bad. The good times are very, very good. Fist-pump good. I don't have a lot of shifts that are mediocre. Management changed some stuff at work lately that made it intolerable, but they seem to be working with us to change that, so I'm trying to keep an open mind and remember my favorite slogan (semper gumby, baby). It's hard. But there are still patients who need a nurse who cares about their welfare, and I'm one, so I'm trying to do what I do for any "situation" at work: focus on the patient and not blaming, fault-finding, and excuses. (Plus I'm a hopeless cardiology devotee.)

I have been terribly depressed and wondering if I made a terrible career decision, but I don't think so. Nursing has plunged me brute-force into the most raw and real triumphs and defeats of the human condition from which we modern folks are normally protected. I may sob with frustration and grief or cry with strange joy, neither of which I did much before I entered the health care field. I have now seen people come into this world and people leave it (in nursing school, btw, Chloe). I've shared the lowest and most painful moments of people's lives with them, and it's been a dignified honor and privilege. I've learned from patients how to handle adversity and pain (in theory, anyway) with grace and fortitude. You get the point. None of that is particularly a goal I had, and I don't have a masochistic desire to suffer along with people in order to reach nirvana or anything like that. But as a side effect of my chosen profession, I feel more real. Sometimes it backfires and numbs me up. Sometimes it makes me more raw. But it always changes me.

To the nursing students I'm scaring with my blog: toughen up. I am STILL developing the emotional maturity necessary to remain sane in this field, and much of that is simply toughening up. My dean told me to buck up when I wanted to quit school, and it pissed me off and then made me hysterical, but she pretty much had it right. You want to help people? That doesn't even SOUND easy, really, and it isn't. It's a hard job. A tough job. Nurses have to be kind, compassionate...and tough.