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Coffee Conversations: 5 Things I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Becoming A Nurse

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse.

I had an aunt who was a nurse, and she would share the most amazing, cooky stories with me.  She was such an interesting person, and I loved being around her.  I knew I wanted to grow up and be a nurse just like her.

I muddled my way through college, eventually making it into a nursing school program. Nursing School was probably the most stressful time in my life.  Between exams, clinicals, care plans, and so on I felt like I barely had time to breathe, let alone eat or sleep.

I remember leaving the campus for one last time after my final exam, and just crying all the way to my car.  The relief was immeasurable.  I couldn’t believe I’d finished nursing school.

I thought the hardest part of my nursing career was behind me.  And, boy was I wrong.

In honor of Nurses Week, and to all the many wonderful nurses I’ve had the privilege to work alongside, I’m sure you will agree with me that being a nurse is a calling.  It is a work of heart, that is not to be taken lightly.

Here are 5 Things I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Becoming A Nurse….

5 Things I Wish I Would've Known Before I Became a Nurse...

You Have To Know What The Doctors Know

I don’t say this to belittle the doctors knowledge, because clearly they go through a lot of training and schooling as well.  But, nurses are expected to know what the doctors know.  Meaning, nurses are the middle man, the ultimate planners of our patient’s care.

We anticipate what the doctor will order as far as medications, tests, labs, and so on.  We understand what the plan of care looks like for our patients.  And, because of that, we are able to take the absolute best care of our patients.

I remember thinking in nursing school, “well, if I had to know what the doctor was going to do anyways, than I should’ve gone to med school”.   I’m sure most nurses have thought that at some time or another.

What sets a good nurse apart from an excellent nurse, is his/her ability to anticipate the doctors next move.  Excellent nurses are able to explain tests, medications, labs, and procedures to the patients in ways that make sense and ease their minds.

It takes a while to become an excellent nurse.  It requires working alongside other excellent nurses, learning their ways, their habits, their knowledge base.

I thought I had learned everything I needed to know to be an amazing nurse in school, and then when I entered the hospital for my first shift as a registered nurse, I quickly figured out I knew very little.

You Will Meet The Most Amazing People & Make Some Best Friends

Nurses work alongside each other for long shifts, often times during holidays and weekends when most other people are at home enjoying time with their families.  We experience life and death together.  We see beautiful times in people’s lives, and we see horrific times.

Nurses become family.

I never thought I would meet such beautiful, humble, hard-working people.  It is an honor to work alongside these gentle souls day in and day out.

We spend our days and nights away from our families to take care of yours.  And, until you’re in need of a nurse’s care, you don’t really realize how special our “job” is.

There Will Be Days When You Feel Like A Failure

No person ever goes into the field of nursing thinking that one day something may go horribly wrong.  It is never a nurse’s intent to harm somebody’s loved one.  In fact, we can be so incredibly hard on ourselves.

There have been days when I’ve left the hospital feeling like a complete failure.  Days when I’ve questioned why I ever decided to become a nurse.

With so much responsibility also comes the probability of making an unintentional mistake, or missing something that could have saved a patient from hurt or harm.

You see, nursing is a job like no other. It’s not the same as going to an office, or working retail, or spending your days teaching little ones…not that those aren’t important jobs.

But, when nurses makes a mistake, it can be an error that may cost someone their life.  We have an incredible responsibility that we carry with those two initials after our name, “R.N.”!

Every day I hope and pray that I am diligent enough to catch the small stuff, & gracious enough to deal with the difficulties I’ll face.

You Will Connect With Strangers In Ways You Never Thought Possible

One of the many beautiful things about being a nurse, is that we have the opportunity to connect with strangers in ways that other people don’t understand.

We are there, holding their hand and talking them through some of the scariest moments of their life.

We are there during life, and we are there during death.  It is an honor to be able to help others in such a way.

And, I know many nurses who can attest to this, that when you bond with a patient and their family and are able to assist them in a pivotal moment in their life, it is one of the most rewarding experiences.  It’s what we live and breathe for.  It’s why we chose nursing.

You Will Be Remembered 

Just recently I’ve started experiencing patients I’ve taken care of with their first babies, coming back to the hospital to have their second.  Sometimes they look familiar and sometimes they don’t.  But, it is always extremely special when they look up at me with a tear in their eye and say, “you took care of us when we had our first baby”.

How rewarding is that?!

I always question them, whether it was a good experience or a bad one. 🙂 You never know!

But, those are the moments that make being a nurse so extremely rare and special.

Long after we’ve sent them home, and we go about living our regular lives, we are remembered.  We play a special role in other’s lives, and the significance of that role we sometimes don’t even comprehend.

5 Things I Wish I Would've Known Before Becoming A Nurse...

The Calling: By Edwin C. Hofert

“Do you sometime wonder?

Why you do the job you do?

Did you choose your career?

Or did you job choose you?

Why back before you were born,

God knew there was a need.

So He picked your fertile heart,

And planted a caring seed.

Then He waited and He watched.

Knowing before too long.

The desire in you to help others,

Would continue to grow strong.

He guided you throughout life,

Through the courses that you took.

Because you are a chosen one.

You are written in His book.

The caring heart He put in you,

As you put others first.

Leaving only one path to take,

In you there was a thirst.

Not seeking fame or fortune.

Born with a tender touch.

You are who you’re meant to be,

That’s why you care so much.

Because caring don’t take practice.

It’s not something you rehearse.

You answered a special calling,

When you became a nurse.”


So, nurses everywhere, Happy Nurses Week!  You are special and loved, needed and valued.

Below is a special Printable for all of you this Nurses Week…

{Click Here To Download Your FREE Printable}

Free Printable for Nurses...


  • I’m not a nurse, but I appreciate all nurses so much. My dad was in the hospital for months battling lung cancer and the nurses made me feel so comfortable and “at home”, which is something I never thought I’d experience at a hospital. I spent hours and hours for months at the hospital, that I actually started getting happy and excited to go to the hospital! All because of nurses. So thank you so much for what you do!

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Alexis. I’m sorry to hear about you dad, though. How tough for a daughter to deal with that. So thankful you felt at home and as comfortable as possible during that difficult time.

  • I really enjoyed reading this! I’ve never wanted to be a nurse but I have nothing up the upmost respect for nurses! I wouldn’t be able to handle have the things you go through!

    • Thank you so much, Ashley! That means so much to me! 🙂


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