Gently as I can, while he simultaneously belches into my face and emits noxious gas into the air around us, I guide a 76-year-old man’s penis into a urine bottle. And after he has missed it for the third time, I think to myself: ‘I love my job. I love my job, I LOVE MY FUCKING AWFUL JOB.’
In all honesty, it isn’t even a job. The definition of a job is doing something for monetary reward. But since I am only ‘training’ to be a nurse, I don’t get paid. I don’t get paid to empty catheter bags while my friends get wasted at Glastonbury, nor to macerate faeces while others have swanky three-hour ‘working’ lunches in the City. At almost 28 years old, I can honestly say that my choice to become the Florence Nightingale of the 21st Century was probably one of the dumbest decisions anyone has ever made.
I’m pretty rare among my colleagues though; most of them love nursing. They love the adrenaline rush of pounding on some poor bugger’s chest as he slides swiftly into cardiac arrest, they love analysing foul-smelling urine for infection markers, and the love filling in an incident form (particularly when someone else is to blame for the cock-up). SO MUCH FUN.
Most of my colleagues fill their Facebook feeds with memes that essentially illustrate how great they all are, or how the government, the media, and society at large doesn’t understand what huge sacrifices they have to make every day just to keep YOU alive. And they’re right – most people don’t understand that nurses routinely work five to seven hours without a bathroom break or even a drink of water.
But what gets me about nurses, particularly my generation, is the sheer self-righteousness. The unbelievably arrogant belief that they alone are on a crusade to save the lives of the world and his wife. Doctors are cavalier wank stains with illegible handwriting; healthcare assistants are lazy, useless fuckwits who’d rather play Candy Crush Saga than hold an old lady’s hand while she has her necrotic leg ulcers cleaned.
Having ranted about my colleagues, the real saving grace of the ‘job’ is the patients. Nursing is a great job for anyone intrigued by the nature of the human soul, because when people are tired, in pain, or generally under the weather, they reveal themselves to you in a way that most well people never would. There was the cheeky chappie on the cardiac ward who would pinch my arse whenever I took his blood pressure and ask me if I fancied joining him in the linen closet “for a quickie”. Given that the poor sod wasn’t far off 80, this jolly insouciance was a welcome breath of fresh air. On the urology ward, the Polish fella with severe urinary retention who screamed, every 20 minutes on the dot, “VEN VILL I BE HABLE TO HAFF A FUCKING PISS?!” brightened the incredible monotony of my day no end.
It’s no coincidence that my favourite patients are men, because men are simply better at dealing with pain than women – who, in the vast majority of cases, develop what I have come to name HAP, or Hospital Acquired Paraplegia. Meaning that, though they quite happily wandered off to the loo unaided in the middle of the night, by morning they couldn’t possibly wash themselves without the assistance of two nurses and a raft of incontinence supplies.
There hasn’t been a single day in all of my training when I haven’t pined for the clock to move a little faster, when I haven’t gasped down a fag as I jubilantly sauntered out the front of the hospital after a long day, or busted out I Will Survive in the shower at 5.15am as I prepared for my third 12-hour shift in as many days. So I tell you youngsters: are you thinking about saving the world, one excoriated moisture lesion at a time? Turn back now, choose a career that won’t fuck up your knees, back and moral fibre in one fell swoop. Choose something well-paid and enjoyable. Something, anything, remotely creative.
Do not give your life’s work to people who will whine for pain meds 20 minutes after a dose of morphine that could level a donkey. Don’t spend your life getting up at an ungodly hour to wipe arses and feed the demented. If there is any doubt in your mind that you can project a sunny and understanding disposition for 12 straight hours, for the love of GOD, don’t become a nurse.
Omg this is brilliant. I’m in nursing school now and worked really hard to get into this university because it was supposed to be amazing…it’s not. I literally feel like my want to help has just been zapped away and my will just sucked out. The lecturers are unhelpful and just dismiss you with well this is what you signed up for. It’s terrible because I’m a nice person but this course has started to drain my will to keep smiling through the frustration. I think I need to quit nursing school, your article was brilliant!
Tried to get into nursing school. Couldn’t even get pass my prerequisites. You know what? That’s O.K. After reading this and knowing there are far more enjoyable ways to earn an income, why fret? Plus, I know people who ditched the medical field to pursue less stressful jobs and they’re happier.
Congratulations on telling the truth there is only one thing that is lower than a nurse,that is a. Mental health nurse,”lazy,idle,must be mad to work there,not real nurses,Actual quotes from other nurses in the USA 2008 study that found psychiatry/mental health was the lowest regarded area of nursing.
I did 32 years in this field but I saw the light and work at the sewage farm Instead
I retired last year after 40 years of nursing. It sapped the life out of me physically and mentally. Nursing ruined my family and took away every bit of creativity I had. After I got divorced I had no choice but continue nursing to support my kids. Never had time for myself so now I’m at home nursing my knees and trying to recover. I’m told I was an excellent nurse. I gave it my all. I would never encourage a young person to go into this profession. Do Anything Else!
That,sounds exactly how I feel.
I feel better about my life. Thank you!
Nowadays, families are setting up cameras everywhere trying to catch nurses. You know how ugly it can look with a combative patient. Add to this, a patient can beat the krap out of you and then claim the koo koo defense. Easy to get blackballed. Plus, millions of H1 nurses pouring into the country. Nurses, a dime a dozen.
Ok ok ok calm down Imorgen (Imogel) the Gang, you’re telling me to lift my damn fucking leg, no I can’t! Imorgen, I need extra dose of that stuff, what do you call it? Morphine, to start my day. Don’t you know Imorgen that patients are always right Imorgen? Now, it’s time to wheel me to that tepid shower as I sing “Wake me up when you go g..(no..when I go )go go”. Remember that I need a damn hot hoister to swing me, hoister with blood veins with a temperature of 38 degrees not lower not higher. And since I felt this Mr Tourette visited (why just my hands and legs?) is in town, I wanna be in my best pant! But first, get that food slow and nice into my mouth, don’t you have experience with babies! Ok ok Imogen, that’s why you went to that damn class for four years, remember? Now be good baby, there’s always poop and pudding, get your thinking in order and arrange privacy in that loong loo. But before that, can you examine my itching neck..closely please? Or is the problem related to my loin that has been bothering me for years?…
I agree with everything in this article-
I have been an Emergency Nurse for over 34 years
I do not recommend Nursing for anyone
It is a demeaning and thankless job
Consider a job with lower pay and less stress
-demanding rude patients ,family members eventually will wear you out,;so will arrogant and indifferent doctors and managers
slowly,;cumulatively the stress of nursing,the confrontations;;,illness ,lack of support from management will zap energy and life from you until you,like me;will retire ,running away like escaping from a prison sentence
This is hilarious!!!