Living the Nursing Life


Published: 07 August 2018

Let’s face the facts: nurses’ lives just aren’t necessarily like the lives of other people.

Nurses work odd hours, clean up bodily fluids, stick people with needles, and do a lot of other things that most normal human beings would think were either gross, inadvisable, or just not okay.

Are nurses amenable to living lives so different from their friends and family? Most would reply in the affirmative.

Blood and Guts Galore

Many nurses work in areas of practice that may frequently involve blood, guts, gore, mucus, vomit, faeces, urine, and all manner of nasty substances.

The average worker doesn’t usually encounter such things in the course of their work – with the exception of farmers, law enforcement, various and sundry medical personnel, slaughterhouse workers, fire fighters, first responders, and other people who share certain commonalities with nurses.

We all likely know a nurse who says, “I don’t do sputum” or “I just can’t tolerate the smell of urine” – it takes all kinds, and they can usually find ways to be ‘nursey’ and avoid sputum and pee.

In the end, when you do a job that entails human beings and their orifices, the unpleasant contents of those orifices aren’t very far away.

The Hours

Well, a certain percentage of nurses work night shift, and some like it that way.

Some nurses swear by working the graveyard shift and sleeping during the day – some of us are just more cut out to be vampires than others.

Then there are the nurses who work multiple 12-hour shifts until they’re dead on their feet, as well as those who do flight nursing in a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, those who sign up for crazy emergency shifts, and others who land cushy nine to five jobs.

Like firefighters, police officers, and other public servants and workers, some nurses tend to frequently miss birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other special occasions.

Whether they work days or nights or something in between, nurses are always needed. Whether it’s the weekend, Christmas, or Hanukah – there’s just no time during the year when a nurse won’t be necessary to have on hand.

The Shoes and the Clothes

If we don’t choose nursing for the high salaries, then we probably choose the profession for the fabulous shoes and outfits…

Shapeless scrubs make us look like we’re wearing pyjamas, and our running shoes or other footwear usually won’t win any fashion contests.

Having said that, some nurses appreciate not having to fuss over their clothes before a shift – you just throw on some scrubs and sneakers and you’re good to go. Working in an office or another type of job, so much more has to go into getting dressed and ready for work.

For those nurses who work in office situations, they may sometimes wish for a good old-fashioned set of scrubs once in a while. Casual Fridays, anyone?

Beyond the Blood and Bandages

When asked, most nurses will tell you that they went into nursing because they wanted to help people. “It’s a calling” is a common refrain you’ll hear when discussing how a nurse chose nursing in the first place.

The nursing life may be about blood and guts, long hours, and less than fashionable clothes, but when it comes right down to it, it’s truly about people.

Nursing can be highly relational and more often than not involves conversation, touch, connection, and communication. Even if a nurse is about to do something invasive or uncomfortable, that procedure can be made more bearable when the nurse goes about his or her work in a way that sets the patient’s mind at ease and assuages their fears.

Nurses may appear to be night-dwelling vampires who enjoy cleaning up vomit and dressing festering wounds, but they are actually real human beings whose jobs also frequently involve being super-heroes.

Nurses’ hearts are where the rubber meets the road. Beyond the blood and the bandages are the relationships, the conversations, and the small and big moments that make a nurse’s life worth living.