Interview with a Registered Nurse

What will a career as a registered nurse feel like? What kind of vacation and compensation will you get? How stressful as it and how satisfying? We talked with an RN to find out for you and here are the answers:

What is your job title and what industry do you work in?
My job title is registered nurse (RN) at Hope Villa Hospital in Temecula, California. I have, in total, 15 years of experience as an RN, and 18 as a healthcare professional (I served for 3 years as a nurse’s assistant at another hospital owned by the same organization before my promotion and transfer).

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
In a typical day: I take care of patients in various states of medical treatment, from those with deep cuts to those who slip in and out of comas. It is my job to make sure that everything is clean, all medicines are administered according to schedule, food is given at the right times and all allergies / inhibitors are followed, patients who cannot move are flipped so that they do not develop bed sores – the list goes on.

Basically, I am on the front lines of patient care, and all of the everyday elements of health that do not require the explicit permission of a doctor to perform are in my direct jurisdiction, for my patient pool.

A common misunderstanding to correct is that nurses only deal with basic needs. Nurses get better as they learn what patients need medically as well as administratively.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
I rate my job satisfaction at a resounding 10. I absolutely love helping people. The only way that I could unleash any more enthusiasm is to get rid of my own hunger and fatigue. That’s really the only thing that stops me from going even more than I do. I also don’t like taking my own personal problems out on patients. I always worry that I do that.

Does this job move your heart? Feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
This job definitely moves my heart. I have found my sweet spot. I did the Peace Corps right out of high school, but this is better because I don’t really like to travel. I’m a homebody. Here, as a nurse, I can really develop relationships with patients so that I can learn how to best help them emotionally as well as medically.

Well, a unique situation which affected my experiences and accomplishments in this field was my home life. I was the big sister at my house with 4 younger brothers growing up. Somehow I was always the one in charge, even though I was the only girl and smaller than all of them. I learned to lead with kindness.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I got started in this line of work by always volunteering in school, but I had to get out and make money eventually. I was like, how can I keep helping people and make money at it? Nursing was suggested to me by a friend I had taken care of. I gave it a shot and was hooked, but I didn’t think I was smart enough to make it through the schooling. That’s when I joined the Peace Corps. I don’t know what happened, exactly, but I got really brave after a year and just went for it. If I had to change anything, I would have gotten brave much earlier.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I learned the hard way that there’s a lot of technical information to learn in this job. I’m not really a left brained person. You have to remember and multitask. Can’t mix things up. The first time I mixed up a chart in the field I got yelled at by 4 different people, because of the seriousness of the mistake. Someone could have died. You always have to be on your p’s and q’s, every second.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
The single most important thing that I have learned outside of school is this: People are the most important thing, not academics. In any field. And no matter how powerful you think you are, everyone needs help. I have seen some really powerful people reduced to complete weakness, and they have all told me the same thing – that they would treat people better after their experience.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
The strangest thing that has happened to me in this job: the types of food that I have to bring pregnant women! Potato skins and pickle juice? Wow.

On a good day, when things are going well, what’s happening and what do you like about it?
I get up and go to work each day because I feel that people really need me. Like they appreciate me and that I am making a difference in this world. One example of something that has made me feel good: One person in particular who I really connected with who was a leader at a church told me to keep up the good work because I am helping people fulfill their missions in life. That made me incredibly proud and gave me a lot of perspective as to exactly why I had been called to do this line of work.

What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you really want to pull your hair out?
The biggest challenges I handle are keeping up with everybody’s schedule. And staying on schedule is hard for me for some reason. Having to be so precise with medication and foods definitely makes me tear my hair out on some occasions, but it is worth it!

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
Oh God, this job is stressful. I have people’s lives in my hands, or at least I think so! I can’t really maintain a healthy work-life balance because I go to bed with people’s problems on my mind! I have to be told to take vacations because I would just keep going. Momentum, I guess. One of Newton’s laws. But I love what I do, so hey.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
The salary one can expect for this job: At my level, an RN would make around $90,000 a year. I have others under my supervision, however, from 5 or 7 depending on the needs of the department. I feel like I am paid enough to live within my means, and I have more than enough to live like I want to, which is pretty frugally.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
For vacation, I take 2 week vacations a year. Everybody else says that it is not enough, but I enjoy the movement and the responsibility more than just sitting around doing nothing!

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
The education and skills that you need in this field: You need to go to school, but more than that, you need to love people. You have to love people.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
I would tell any friend considering this line of work that if you do not love people, stay out of this field. I see too many bad and mediocre nurses and people are being hurt because of it. More than anything, people need your emotional strength and happy energy to make it through whatever they are going through. Hospitals help, definitely, but people heal themselves.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
In five years, if I could write my own ticket, I would be doing exactly what I was doing, but I would have some doctor invent some pill or something so that I did not have to eat or sleep so that I would not get tired or hungry at all!