Letter: Nursing more than meets the eye
by Jason MacLeod
Jason MacLeod is 36 and a fourth-year nursing student at Mount Royal College.
At the age of 32 I decided I wanted to become a paramedic. When I started talking to career paramedics I was told several times, “go be a nurse.” My first replies were, “I don’t want to spend my days emptying bedpans and changing bed linen.” I was assured there was much more to it than that.
So, I started to educate myself on what being a nurse means and found that it was not an easy question to answer. Would you like to work in the emergency department, operating room, a community health clinic, in a school, on a cruise ship, with the young, the old, or anything in between? I found out nursing covers an incredibly diverse range of disciplines and they don’t always involve dealing with sick people.
One of the great things about the field of nursing is the variety of work that can be done. You can get high energy and excitement in the emergency department or the smooth constant pace of the operating room. You could work in a medical clinic or hospital of a small town to slow things down further. Almost any lifestyle you want. If you are willing to travel, Canadian nurses can get a job practically anywhere. Would you like a year in Europe, Australia, or how about Dubai?
There is a shortage of nurses as well, which makes new nurses a hot commodity. It’s essentially a seller’s market — lots of work, not enough people to do it. This translates into opportunity and job security. As far as fresh-out-of-school pay goes, nursing has got to be one of the best wages going — Calgary weights in at over $50,000 to start.
Nurses are the lifeblood of the health care system. When you show up at emerg, the first person you talk to is a nurse, so is the person to do your assessment, then you see a doctor, and finally it will be a nurse who sends you on your way. The doctor might be in charge of overall patient care decisions, but it’s the nurse that does assessments, gives care, keeps watch, and makes things happen. Nurses are the ones who translate the doctor’s orders into actions — without good nurses, there is no good care.
One thing to keep in mind: nursing is a customer service industry so you have to like working with people. When you stop enjoying the job, you will need to change it or get out. There are lots of opportunities for changing the kind of nursing you do, but its still nursing. You will be dealing with people constantly, be it patients or other medical staff, so you have to be good with people.
Will you have to empty bedpans and change bed linen? Yes, you learn that while in school. After that it depends on what nursing path you choose, and there are many paths to choose. If you have a good heart and the desire to help people, you should check nursing out. It’s probably not what you think, and so much more.