Debunking Myths About Nursing - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Debunking Myths About Nursing

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Nurses are some of the most important people in our society at all times, but perhaps especially now, when the health of the world is at risk. We need more nurses now than ever before, and many people are hearing the call and deciding that nursing is definitely something they want to do.

Others, however, who might be keen to get involved and to start studying nurse practitioner programs could be put off altogether because of some of the strange myths that have grown up around nursing. The problem is, the more these myths are told and re-told, the more they are believed, and this can do a huge disservice to the nursing profession as a whole and leave it lacking vital personnel. If you are interested in becoming a nurse but you’ve heard some stories that are making you think twice, it’s best to check those stories out thoroughly to determine whether they are really true or just a myth. We’ve listed some of them below, along with the reasons they’re just not true.

Nursing is Only About Technical Skills

For those who are interested in researching and joining nurse practitioner programs but who aren’t sure whether or not nursing will really allow them to help patients, this might be the myth that has given them that idea. The myth in question suggests that nursing is only about technical skills, meaning by extension that empathy, compassion, and any form of caring just aren’t as important.

The truth is as far removed from this idea as possible. It’s true that nursing does involve a reasonable amount of technical skill and knowledge, and this is what any kind of nursing degree program is going to be teaching you. This is obviously a very important part of nursing, and without this knowledge, it will be hard to care for patients in the right way, and understanding what is required when it comes to medication and procedures is crucial.

Yet there is more to nursing than this. Along with a good amount of technical knowledge and expertise – all of which can be taught on good nurse practitioner programs – it is also important to be a caring person. The best nurses absolutely know everything there is to know about nursing and how to be technical excellent, but they are also the nurses who the patients are most glad to see. They are the nurses who make the most significant impact and the biggest difference in people’s lives. Therefore, the myth about nursing only being about technical skills is completely wrong.

Nurses Just Take Orders

Another big myth that relates to the field of nursing is that nurses are merely there to take orders from doctors and other healthcare professionals. Although this may once have been the case and could be the reason for the phrase ‘doctor’s orders,’ today, things are very different, and nurses are often able to be much more independent and make their own decisions when it comes to treating patients.

There is always going to be an element of following instructions given by other people you happen to be working with; this is how a hospital works, in that someone works out how to treat a patient and others then carry out the treatment. However, there is much more of an air of shared responsibility, and it wouldn’t be out the realms of possibility for a nurse to make a diagnosis or make suggestions regarding treatment. After all, an experienced nurse may well have seen exactly this condition or injury before, and they will instantly know how to treat it.

Nurses Only Talk to Other Nurses

Nurses will certainly talk to other nurses; these are their colleagues and are the people they are going to be spending the most time with. Some nurses might even know one another from nurse practitioner programs or other workplaces. Plus, when you are a nurse and you make friends with other nurses, you will have the job in common. Since this is a stressful and sometimes difficult (both emotionally and physically) job to do, having someone around who understands just what you’re feeling is important.

Yet the myth that nurses only stay in their own small circle and never get to talk to anyone else or see other parts of the hospital is simply not true. A nurse can be seen as something of a facilitator, able to smooth the way between the patient, doctor, surgeon, healthcare team, family, and anyone else who needs information about what is happening. Nurses, therefore, need to be able to speak clearly and concisely to all kinds of different people, switching from speaking to medical professionals to speaking to lay people who won’t understand complicated medical terms.

If a nurse only ever spoke to other nurses and only stayed in that small circle, they would not be able to provide their patients with the best healthcare options, and they wouldn’t be able to bring comfort to families. Neither would they be able to go into detail about a patient’s condition, potentially saving their lives.

Shift Work Is Easy

This myth is a little different, in that it can be something people are quite keen on, only they complete their nurse practitioner programs to discover that shift work is not as straightforward or as helpful as they might have imagined it would be.

There is a myth about nursing that suggests nurses work three 12 hour shifts and then have four days off. This sounds wonderful and seems to offer a very good work-life balance. Three 12 hour shifts in a row, even if they are night shifts, doesn’t seem as though it would be overly difficult, especially if the promise of four whole days off is on the horizon.

Yet, in reality, shift work is not something everyone is able to deal well with. It can take a long time for the body clock to get into the right pattern, and this can lead to insomnia, missed meals, fatigue, and irritability, among other issues.

On top of this, the nurse’s job may not be done as soon as 12 hours is up. If they are in the middle of helping a patient, or if they need to do a handover to other staff, this can easily add another one or two hours (maybe more) to their shift. You might even be asked if you can pick up some overtime due to sickness or vacation booked by other team members, and soon enough you could be working seven days a week, and working long, hard hours when you do so.

This is why you really need to want to be a nurse. The hours are long and hard, but the work is incredibly satisfying and will be the best thing you ever do, if you are suited to it.

You’ll Have to do Everything

The myth that a nurse has to do everything around the hospital is one that has a basis in truth. In the past, nurses really did have to do it all; they would have had to take care of patients, assist doctors, clean the hospital, make the bed, prepare food, bathe patients, and much more. Anything that was required in order to assist a patient was down to the nurses, apart from the initial diagnoses and any surgical procedures that might have to be done.

Today things are very different, and there is a big emphasis on specialization. Even in nurse practitioner programs, you will find that specialism are discussed, as nurses are encouraged to find a place within the hospital or clinic that suits their way of working best. There are different kinds of staff to do specific jobs, leaving the nurses to concentrate much more on treatment and patient care. This is an ideal situation, since not only does it open up more jobs within a healthcare environment so that those who don’t want to be doctors or nurses but who do want to work in a hospital can have a chance to do so, but it allows nurses to be much more focused on their patients, rather than being asked to do many different jobs that would take them away from this main task.

Although most nurses will certainly have good training in their nurse practitioner programs to be able to carry out many different jobs within the healthcare setting, it is best for them to find a specialty and work towards that, and this is what is encouraged for the most part.

You’ll Be Stuck With Your Career Choices

It takes a lot of hard work and study in good nurse practitioner programs in order to become a nurse, and once you have your RN, many nurses then go on to specialize further, as mentioned above. This can lead to the myth that once you have chosen your particular branch of nursing, whether it is helping seniors, pediatric medicine, the surgical areas of treatment, end of life care, or anything else, you need to stay doing that for the rest of your working life.

This will clearly be off-putting for some potentially brilliant nurses since they just don’t know what it is they want to do, and might be worried they will pick the wrong specialty and make a bad mistake. In the end, because they are afraid of choosing badly, they don’t go into nursing at all, and instead choose something else. This is a shame as it will mean the healthcare sector loses out on a good nurse, and the person themselves won’t be fulfilling their dreams.

The good news is this really is a myth, and the truth is you will never be ‘stuck’ in one department or specialty if you decide there is something else you would rather do. There are so many branches of nursing to think about, that trying to make anyone stick with a choice they then want to change would be incredibly unfair, and it would be reductive for the nursing profession as a whole. When you study for nurse practitioner programs you will gain an excellent understanding of the underpinning processes of nursing. If you want to specialize, you can then take further courses and learn about specific areas of nursing. These courses are always going to be open, and they will always be there for nurses who want to try something new, whether they really do want to switch specialties or they simply want to learn more about something different.

Learning and staying up to date with the changes that often occur within nursing is a good idea no matter what level you are at or which department you are working in, and no one is going to be disappointed if you want to look into different areas of what you do best.

You Have to Work in a Hospital or Clinic

Imagine desperately wanting to be a nurse but having an intense dislike or fear of hospitals or clinics. Imagine studying to become a nurse only to discover that you can’t work in a hospital because it makes you uncomfortable. Neither of these situations are going to be ideal, and they will mean that the nurse or potential nurse in question must find another career because, surely, nurses only work in hospitals or clinics.

Yet again, this is a myth. If someone wants to be a nurse but doesn’t want to work in a hospital for whatever reason, this is not going to be a problem. Of course, they can still study in nursing practitioner programs to gain their nursing qualifications, but they won’t be made to work in a hospital, and in fact, they will be free to choose any kind of career they want once they have been trained and are fully qualified.

Although the hospital is clearly the most commonplace for a nurse to work, alternatives include schools, large corporations, government organizations, health departments, think tanks, and plenty more besides. You could even work from home, or go out and visit patients in their own homes. If you love the idea of being a nurse, don’t let the thought that you’ll need to be in a hospital each and every day stop you from achieving your dream because this is not how it has to be at all.


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