Before most students decide to attend nursing school they wonder how it will be working as a nurse (hours, difficulty, salary, schedule) and if it is a career that fits their personality. Becoming a registered nurse can be one of the most rewarding careers a person can choose. However, it is important the potential nurse researches what the career is like and if that is something they want to pursue. Here are some great questions submitted by a reader that are frequently asked questions about the nursing career.
1. Is Nursing a Difficult Job?
Some nurses think nursing is difficult while others do not. There are many fields of nursing a person can purse and some nursing jobs are a little bit easier than others. For example, there are positions for registered nurses where they work in a clinic setting giving injections all day (like the flu clinics at Walmart, Walgreen’s etc). This job to many nurse would be considered laid back and relatively easy. On the other hand, a nurse who works in a trauma I emergency room in Los Angelous, California, probably finds their job a lot more difficult than the nurse who gives injections all day. However, all of this depends on how the individual perceives difficult.
Every new nurse will at first perceive their first job as difficult but once they get comfortable it will become second nature to them. So to sum things up nursing has difficult aspects to it but it depends on what you perceive as difficult. I recommend finding out what you like and go with it. Your nursing clinicals will really help you in making this decision.
2. What are the Working Hour Conditions as a Nurse?
Since majority of nurses in the United States are employed in hospital settings they usually work 12 hours shifts. Nurses who work 12 hours shifts are usually considered bedside floor nurses. These nurses usually work 7a-7p or 7p-7a. The working conditions can be a little tedious especially if you are having a busy day. For example, sometimes it is hard getting in a lunch break for a whole 30 minutes or even taking your allowed 15 minutes breaks in between. Because bedside floor nursing can be an unpredictable environment you do not usually have a set time for breaks. So in reality you take breaks when you have the time. Not all days are chaotic and you can find the time to get a break. However, I can not speak for every hospital in the United States because some may be better than others with making sure their nurses get breaks on time.
Although most nurses work 12 hours shifts, there are many jobs where nurse work anywhere for 8-10 hour shifts. For example, if you work in an outpatient setting (ex: clinic, stress lab, wound care clinic, school nurse, doctor’s office, chemotherapy, etc) the hours are usually 8a-5p. The working conditions are a little bit better in these settings (I know from personal experience because I have worked in both type of setting) but as with anything the day can be unpredictable.
3. Do you Have a Certain Person you Work for?
Yes, you have a certain person you work for and this person is usually a nurse manager. Majority of nurses work under another nurse who is in a management position. Since majority of nurses work for hospitals they usually work for a health care system. These health care systems have nurse managers that hire nurse to work for their unit. However, sometimes nurses may work for doctors and this is in an office or clinic setting. Nurse who are travelling nurses work for travel agencies that are managed by nurses.
4. Does your Nursing Salary Increase with your Working Experience and/or How Much Nursing Education you Have Taken?
Absolutely! And if it does not you should consider getting another job at a different company. As with anything, this depends on what company you work for and how well they treat their nurses. If you work for a good company they will increase your salary based on your experience and education.
I work for a magnet hospital and at every yearly evaluation period nurses submit how long they have been a nurse, degree type (ex: ADN, BSN, MSN), continuing education, volunteer work etc. to their manager for review and this is factored into your salary increase. Sometimes you can get as high as a 6-8% increase plus whatever the company is automatically giving everyone. So you could get anywhere from a 6-12% raise every year. (By the way, a magnet hospital is a health care system that has been recognize by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in providing excellence in nursing. In addition, these health care systems have higher percentages of satisfied RNs, lower RN turnover and vacancy, improved clinical outcomes and improved patient satisfaction.)
5. Do you enjoy Nursing?
Yes! I love being a nurse. I love the fact I get to take care of people and watch them get better (in most cases) or I can help them make their illness more bearable. I have found being a nurse is not about the glamour or pay check, but it is about how you can impact others by being a positive, uplifting light in their hour of darkness.
If you ever start getting to the point (as I did at one point in my career) where you only come to work to get a pay check then it is time for a different career setting. I found myself feeling that way and now I have found a better setting that fits my personality. I now feel renewed and know that nursing is the career God created me to do. Always remember that nursing is a very versatile profession and it offers so many career paths. Here is a list of them: nursing career specialities
6. Do you Pick the Time and Hours you Want to Work as a Nurse?
This answer is not a yes or no. It is a “depends” type of answer. At my last job which was a beside floor nurse position, our schedule was made for us at first. I usually worked 12 hours shifts three days a week and every other weekend. But then our manager asked us if we wanted to make our own schedule and everyone voted yes. So we then got to choose the days we wanted to work. However, we had to follow the rules and work every other weekend and schedule yourself for 12 hours shifts. But if you are worried about working 12 hours shifts you could try to find someone that would break up the shift with you. Most nurse manager will work with you on this issue.
Now at my current job the schedule is made more me. I can easily request the days I need off or vacation time but everything else is made out. I do not have much input which is not an issue for me. So to sum up the answer this depends solely on your nurse manager and what the other staff want.
7. What is the Maximum Hours you Can Work as a Nurse?
Most nurses who work full-time are scheduled to work no more than 40 per week or 80 hour every two weeks UNLESS they choose to. One of the things you will see as a nurse is that there are ample opportunities for overtime. Again this depends on where you work and what your manager or company allows. You could probably work as much as you wanted as long as you were mentally and physically sound. However, quickly as a nurse you will learn that working overtime is not always worth the extra money.
8. What kind of things do you have to do as a Registered Nurse?
As a nurse you do a wide variety of tasks. I like to say I am a “jack of all trades”. Nurses must be able to perform a wide variety of nursing skills at their job. These nursing skills are usually learned while in nursing school. However, some more advanced nursing skills will be learned by the nurse while working at their job. Nursing school teaches the nursing student basic nursing skills such as starting an IV, inserting a Foley catheter, and putting on sterile gloves etc.
As a nurse you will be delegating care, assessing patients, calling doctors, giving medications, and assisting with procedures. The list could seriously go on and on. Again this depends on what career path you choose as a nurse. A labor and delivery nurse will perform different tasks compared to a cardiac intensive care unit nurse.
See this list of skills you will need to know as a nurse here: clinical nursing skills
9. In case you have a Personal/ Family Emergency on a Workday will they Excuse you for the Day?
Of course, they will because things happen. However, if you are always doing this then they may not be very happy with you. You will always need to provide documentation or proof why you were not able to come to work. This not only proves your case but it covers you. It is important to try to plan in advance and not to sign up for days to work you may not be able to. Most companies do have policies that if you call in so many days you will not be eligible for a yearly raise so check the call-in policies.
Thinking about going to Nursing School?
Are you contemplating going to nursing school, or are you actually in nursing school right now? Nursing school can be challenging, especially if you do not know what to expect. Here is a great guide by S. L. Page BSN, RN called “How to Pass Nursing School“. This book gives you detailed information about how to pass nursing school from beginning to end. S.L. Page, the creator of this website, complied all the information students what to know about nursing school into one easy to read guide. She gives in depth information on how to succeed in nursing school.
S.L. Page graduated from nursing school with honors and passed the NCLEX-RN on her first try. In this eBook, she reveals the strategies she used to help her succeed.
Here is what the book looks like: