- The job requires you to be resilient, said mcscotty. “It can be a real tough job. My mother is a nurse. She spent most of her career in the ICU. Her daily routine included cleaning burn victims, colostomy bags, and tracheotomy tubes. Not pleasant work and the money is average. A lot better ways to earn a living. Plus, shifts take a toll on the body.”
- Liz2010 had quite a lot to say: “There are things about nursing you have to know. There’s a lot of disgusting work that nurses do and they put themselves at risk all the time of getting viruses. My mother was an RN and she used to come home and tell me that people with AIDs would spit at her and throw their bed pans full of feces and urine at the nurses. She had to deal with bitter people with hepatitis trying to scratch her for trying to set up an IV. You deal with a lot of disgusting things like gangrene and infections that you can smell. If you can’t stomach the smells of rotting flesh, seeing blood, gore, and helping people with viruses that could kill you, then don’t become a nurse. They earn their money for sure. They are always on their feet and hardly get a chance to sit down. When other nurses call in sick, they have to handle 42 patients in 12 hours. They have no time because of budget cuts and lack of nursing staff. In the 1970s, nurses only had to deal with 10 patients and now they have to deal with 40 patients per nurse. In Alberta, new nurses are not getting the help on the job and the stress is too much, so they quit. Thirty per cent of new nurses quit in Alberta.”
The opportunities the profession affords was cited a few times as well.
- Dewey8 is also a nurse and gave this account: “I have been in the nursing profession for the last 39 years. If you want a career in nursing you have to enjoy working with people from all walks of life. The greatest rewards for a nurse are those that make a difference, no matter how small, to the lives of the clients he/she works with. Notice I didn’t say ‘serve.’ Nursing is a lifelong learning commitment in a fascinating field that is ever changing. Not a day goes by where you don’t learn something new! Nursing is also very team orientated involving collaboration with other disciplines. Nursing also has diverse opportunities. In addition, it is a very portable profession. Certainly, it is not without the challenges of shift work or difficult tasks. If you are considering nursing as a career, you need to establish whether you are “cut out” for the work by exposing yourself to the health care setting. Certainly, it’s not for the ‘faint at heart.’”
- If you want to be a nurse, keep up your education in order to take advantage of the other opportunities the profession has, advised Reg Boulette. “If you join the nursing profession, as some of my relatives have done, keep up with your education in the field. This will result in opportunities in nurse practitioner, flight nursing, health program development – positions outside what you would consider the ‘usual’ hospital environment. This tactic will also keep you employed. As in any bureaucracy, when it comes to cutting budgets, useless administrators will keep their jobs at hospitals, while nurses will be laid off or cut to part time to save having to pay them benefits. Jobs outside hospitals, such as with family clinics, or specialized health outlets, can be more stable.”
While most readers felt nurses earned a good living, they determined it shouldn’t be a driving force for entering the field.
- On the Globe’s website, m77m7 wrote: “If you’re in it for the money, it’s not the profession for you.”
- That garnered this response from M. Lyons, a nurse: “Agreed, you won’t survive if that is why you are a nurse.”
- Crownline suggested: “$42 an hour in Alberta. Come west.”
Ultimately, readers had great things to say about nurses and the series.
- Passerby wrote: “I like this series. I hope a lot of teachers will point out these articles to their students.”
- Thunderbold32 wrote: “Nursing is an honourable profession and a difficult one with an aging population and government’s cutting budgets. Nurses out there, you have my respect and continue doing the best you can during these difficult times. You are appreciated!”
- Many readers said nurses deserved more money, as JimmieB wrote: “Whatever they earn, it’s not enough. They do all the work that overworked and/or snooty doctors don’t.”
- Bart21 wrote: “I witnessed the good work nurses do first hand when my mother was sick several years ago and I have a lot of respect for this profession. They are worth every penny.”
- BeANurseCa sent a link to videos about being a nurse.
Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Go to tgam.ca/salaries