How Nurses Are Often Undervalued

There are really two parts to helping and healing a patient when at any hospital. The first, and often considered the most important part, are the doctors. They examine, diagnose, and declare with a breath of confidence that they will do everything in their power to fix you. However, standing all day next to the shining and determined doctor is the second part of hospitalization treatment; the often times overlooked part which is otherwise known as, the nurse.

Feeling At Ease

While the doctor is preparing for surgery, the warm and comforting nurse is there to make sure you mentally and emotionally feel better and relaxed. They treat you with a sincerity and concern that often goes beyond that of the doctor, and at the end of the whole ordeal, you have them to equally thank for making the experience less scary and intense than it could have been.

Education And Experience

In the United States alone, nursing fills up over 2.6 million jobs, and that number is growing every year. However, the increase of registered nurses isn’t solely due to the vast amount of people who go into the profession with determination and an honest goal to want to help and comfort patients. Rather, a number of nurses the country gains or drops have become a sort of supply and demand system with figures and stats to reel in or cut out nursing staff. Education has appeared in the form of advertised online courses, making the whole process seem like an investment opportunity to simply qualify a nurse and move on. In reality, there is so much more to the learning process than that. When more are needed, the education system seeks to “produce” nurses, rather than cultivate, inspire, and motivate them to pursue this very career. So, on top of all the other challenges and ordeals, nurses go through every day, many of them are left finding time to further their education in their own time, attending orientations and classes so they can become a better and more qualified nurse.

The Easy Life? Not Quite

From time to time you may come across a nurse who isn’t as motivated to connect with you or make sure you are fine before a procedure, but in no way does that mean all or even most of them are the same. In fact, that particular nurse might be one of the most sincere and motivated as can be, but you only get to see what they go through when they are treating you as an individual. So, let’s step back and see just how much nurses often deal with. First of all, the insanely lengthy shifts. People don’t need medical attention from just 9 to 5; accidents happen every hour, of every day, of every week. To cater for this need, nurses often work 14 hour shifts or even more; can you imagine 14-hour shifts? That's about the average person's sleep and working shift combined to make one nurse's single shift. Not forgetting, anything can happen in that time at work. The day of a nurse cannot be solidly planned, for example, one minute that longed for scheduled break is imminent, but then all of a sudden emergency calls and they need to be elsewhere asap, throwing everything else on the back burner. Therefore it’s almost a relief when a nurse gets to work through a whole shift where all they had to do was check on the scheduled patients, and even that is a large amount of work. These long shifts don't consist of simply sitting at a desk. They often have to stand and walk for almost the entire time. Because of this, they often need to wear the best shoes for nurses available, otherwise, those 14 hours can be more work than it already has to be. As one can imagine, working long shifts has it’s major inconveniences and difficulties that affect one's health. One of the most frequent problems nurses face is their lack of exercise and poor diets. In a busy working day or night, nurses often only have time to eat a snack out of convenience rather than to sit down and have a properly enjoyable meal. Pair that with no time to get a short workout, even a small jog, and many nurses have periods of unhealthy lifestyles, not by choice, but by inability and lack of time. Along with that is the lack of sleep that some choose to live with. A power nap here or there might be all they get in a days work, and that is hardly enough for a nurse to properly do their job.

Wait. What About Nursing Salary?

Above all this is the nurse's salary. According to payscale.com the average salary of a nurse in the United States is $58,000. Although this may be a high figure to comprehend for some, compared to the hours and effort, it isn't a great deal of money. On the higher end, a registered nursing salary can be upwards of $80,000 - $90,000 per year, but that is a low percentage and is often in metro areas such as New York or San Francisco, where the living cost is extremely high. Going down to the lower end of the scale which differs across states, nurse salaries can be somewhere between $40,000 - $50,000 thousand a year, which is not great considering colleagues elsewhere earn much more for the same job specification. Some even work for as low as $30,000 thousand a year, so they don’t exactly do this for the money.

So, Why National Nurses Week Then?

So next time you are in a hospital, keep in mind that although the doctor is the one who will ultimately try to heal you, your hardworking registered nurse deserves just as much thanks. To celebrate their irreplaceable role in health care by recognizing events such as national nurses week is only fair. They possess many qualities we can only wish for, and go through a lot on a daily basis, much more than most of us can handle and yet they are still often underrated and undervalued. Appreciation for nurses needs to improve because they are the backbone of hospitals and medical facilities not only in the US but across the globe. So, what's not to love about nurses?

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