Eight common misconceptions about nurses

Thinking about becoming a nurse but put off by some of the things you’ve heard? Here are eight common misconceptions about the nursing profession.

Nursing is a demanding but rewarding profession that attracts talented, ambitious men and women. However, it can often get a bad rap. Thanks often to ignorance or misconceptions it’s overlooked as a career choice by people who would love the work and make excellent nurses.

So to help eliminate any worries if you’re considering a career in nursing, here are eight common misconceptions about nurses.

1) Only women choose to become nurses

While it’s true that overall there are more women than men, nursing is a dynamic profession where both men and women are working in the field. And according to a 2017 report by the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, the numbers of male nurses are rising.

The data shows that the total number of male registered nurses (RNs) continues to increase, reaching over 350,000 full time equivalent (FTE) male nurses.

The report also discovered that since the early 1980s, the percentage of male registered nurses working in hospitals has been greater than the percentage of male registered nurses. It noted that in 2015, nearly 70% of male RNs worked in hospitals, compared to 61% of female RNs.

This could be explained by the fact that male nurses might be more attracted to the type of nursing that is performed in hospitals. For example, nursing in emergency departments and critical care units.

2) You need to go back to school and get a degree to become a nurse

One thing that puts many people off pursuing a career change as a nurse is the belief that, in order to advance your nursing career, you need to go back to school full time. But this isn’t true. There are many routes for you to choose to continue your education.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to get your Doctor of Nursing Practice. If so, you can join online DNP programs and enroll in a program that suits you. There are many different courses for you to choose from, including a mixture of full-time or part-time degrees.

So you won’t have to sacrifice a good job to continue your schooling. You can continue working and find an online degree that fits your lifestyle.

3) You need to work in a hospital if you are a nurse

Nurses work in numerous healthcare settings. Indeed, as we’ve already learned, in 2015 only 61% of female RNs worked in hospitals. Today you can find nurses working in state, local or private hospitals. But you’ll also find them in old people’s homes, schools and even working for NGOs.

Nursing can be an exciting career with many different options and types of workplace. Your nursing career depends on where you want to work and what you want to accomplish in it.

At the same time, as a nurse you don’t have to treat patients. Nurses also occupy different roles. As a nurse, you can work in customer service, staff management, and even in teaching. The basics of going into these careers are the same, however you may need additional certifications on the side before you pursue a job outside of nursing. But these are easy to obtain, such as getting a certificate in teaching before teaching nurses.

4) Nursing requires you to work long hours

Nursing can be a demanding profession with the need to pull extra shifts often. But this doesn’t have to be the case. As we’ve just covered, there are many different types of roles you can work in nursing, and many different types of workplace.

The hours you work depend on the role you choose and where you work. If you work in a private hospital, your working hours may be about 10 to 12 hours. There are also variations to the number of days you need to work. If you work in administration, your schedule will be completely different. You may not need to put in long hours if you’re working for an administrative position. Some hospitals are also more flexible, and accommodating you to your needs.

5) All nurses want to be doctors

Nurses care about their profession just as much as doctors care about theirs. And nursing is a rewarding career in itself, so to imply that all nurses want to be doctors is, quite simply, false.

Nurses have a different set of training and skills compared to doctors. They care about providing holistic care to patients and not diagnosing patients. Nurses also work closely with patients. They make sure that the patient is comfortable and receives proper care during their stay at the hospital.

Both doctors and nurses have their ways of dealing with patients, and it’s incorrect to suggest otherwise. No one is trying to be like the other; both are highly respected professions. Nurses can also be highly qualified and experienced. After becoming a registered nurse, you can pursue advanced degrees, which will open more opportunities up for you. 

6) Nursing is unhygienic

Nursing is not a dirty job; cleaning up after a patient doesn’t make you unclean. The medical profession has high hygiene standards, and even when nurses are cleaning patients, they’re still clean and hygienic.

The medical sector is all about patient care, so it’s only natural to care for every need of a patient. (It’s also worth noting that doctors also have to deal with body fluids.) Nurses may need to bathe patients with a sponge, bandage their wounds and even clean their bedpan. These tasks come with the occupation – unless of course you choose to go down an administrative or teaching route in your nursing career.

Nurses also work in teams, so there are medical professionals who will help nurses take care of patients as they’re recovering. 

7) Due to a nursing shortage getting a job as a nurse is easy

Just because there’s a shortage of nurses, it doesn’t mean that anyone can just walk into a nursing job. However, it does mean that it’s a great time to apply if it’s something you are passionate about and think you have the right skills and temperament for.

Nursing is a selective profession. So if you want to get a job as a nurse, you need to create a profile that makes you a suitable applicant. Work hard and get a solid educational background. You should also get experiences such as internships and even work in small-scale clinics.

Don’t labor under the assumption that you’ll get a job as a nurse right away with minimal experience and no education. A job shortage doesn’t mean hospitals and clinics are willing to hire anyone who applies. The medical profession deals with human lives, and you will need to live up to the administration’s expectations if you want to apply. So if you are serious about becoming a nurse, consider studying for an advanced degree after you become a registered nurse. 

8) Nurses don’t know much about medicine

Nurses have a good understanding of medicine. They know enough when it comes to stabilizing a patient, and they know enough to prescribe medicines for a routine checkup.

While nurses don’t diagnose patients, they help in administering medicines. They also check on a patient after the patient comes out of surgery. A nurse’s training also includes administering patient injections and putting them on an IV. Some nurses also work in the ICU.

A floor nurse knows more about medicine than an average intern. A nurse practitioner is also trained enough to deliver a child and check older patients. There is a reason they work shoulder to shoulder with doctors. When you become a nurse, you will go through intense training and check numerous patients daily. 

Could nursing be the right career for you?

There are many misconceptions about the nursing sector. These stem from lack of knowledge and incorrect assumptions, and can be very damaging for the nursing sector. Nursing is a respectable profession. These healthcare experts work with doctors to take care of patients, and their important role was highlighted even more during the pandemic.

If you’re interested in nursing, you should look into your opportunities in the profession, and routes into it. There is nothing wrong with becoming a nurse. You’ll unlock opportunities and experiences for yourself that will help you grow, while earning money in a rewarding, challenging career with the potential for exciting prospects if you wish to pursue them.