With thousands of amazing nurses all around the world, it’s impossible to recognize them all. And though each and every working nurse deserves that recognition (along with winning the lottery, having great health, and finding the love of their life), instead we will take the time to recognize some of the incredible things that nurses do on a daily basis. After all, there’s no other profession quite like nursing, and there’s no other profession where you will see such a large amount of people every day without complaint.
Being a great nurse is, well, hard. It’s not enough to know the information. You also need to know how and when to apply it to everyday instances and have excellent critical thinking skills. Here are just a few things that great nurses do regularly:
- Make life and death decisions for other people.
Yeah, this is definitely one of the hardest parts about being a nurse. It’s an astoundingly difficult thing to do, even if you’re making those decisions for a patient you’ve been working with for a while. It gets even harder when you have to make those decisions for multiple people just based on a short shift report!
- Apologize for that one small mistake, even when you’ve done everything else right.
It feels like there are a million things that nurses are responsible for in any given shift. And for the most part, we’re on top of it! We get to all of our patients, double- and triple-check medication orders, chat with family members, etc. But there’s always going to be that one thing, that one lost signature or misplaced chart that someone is going to call us out for it. And we just have to apologize and correct it, and never mind the fact that we don’t get praise for remembering the other 999,999 things on our to-do list!
- Play middleman to physicians and patients.
As nurses, we have some authority, but not all of it. That means that while we are responsible for giving treatment and working closely with patients, we still have to get a physician’s order to administer an aspirin to a patient. We also have to know how to navigate patients’ questions and demands while not making any promises that a doctor can’t (or won’t ) keep.
- Memorize thousands of medications.
We wait for the physician’s orders for medication and then just hand it over to the patient, right? Not exactly! If you’re a nurse, you need to know pretty much everything about nearly twenty thousand different medications. From contraindications to dosages and side effects, a nurse is responsible for making sure the patient receives the right amount and type of medication, without causing undue problems.
- Act as coordinator for specialists and patients.
Think you just have to worry about treating patients as a nurse? Absolutely not! Instead, great nurses have to act as a coordinator between tons of different specialists each day. Phone calls and in-person conversations with physical therapists, dieticians, social services, surgeons, and more are just a small part of the work that needs to be done each day to ensure care.
- Live in scrubs.
This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but nurses live in scrubs. Multiple 12-hour shifts mean that it’s kind of pointless to even own non-nursing clothes. Sounds comfy, but this can be damaging to nurse’s sense of individuality and style, lowering confidence. Not to mention, every single pair of scrubs will be covered in stains from a variety of bodily fluids.
- Be on your feet and walking all day and still be overweight.
Think nurses are all thin and fit because they’re walking all day? We wish! Sure, we are on our feet and moving constantly, with hardly even a 30-minute break to rest our feet, but does that count as exercise? Apparently not! And with all of our energy zapped during work, it’s not that we have a ton of time or motivation to work out after work. Sacrificing our own health for that of our patients is one mark of a great nurse.
- Learn under pressure.
With the current nursing shortage, more and more nurses are being shifted to different departments during any given shift, meaning they have to learn a whole lot in a very short amount of time. They may even find themselves taking over for a nurse who has specialized in that department for years and have to figure it all out on the go. Talk about pressure!
- Know when to call the doctor and when not to.
Nurses have a lot more contact with patients and they are more aware of their health status minute to minute. This means it is up to the nurse to decide whether a new development in the patient’s condition merits a call to the doctor or not. No physician wants to be dragged to the hospital at 3 am just because a nurse was worried, so you really have to be sure about it!
- Live with constant guilt.
A nurse’s work is never done, and yet we have to go home sometime. Saying goodbye to patients at the end of the shift is a hard thing to do and you will definitely worry about them for the rest of the night. Even taking a short 30-minute lunch break when you have patients counting on you can be guilt-inducing.
These are just a few of the things a great nurse does each day. And we have to admit, a hospital or other healthcare facility would be in ruins without these amazing nurses. So to all you nurses out there, thank you for your hard work and keep doing what you do – there are people who rely on your sacrifices!