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'How do I explain that nursing isn't an "easy" job?'

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Can you advise this student nurse?

“I am incredibly angry.

”Many of my family, some of my friends (outside nursing of course), and even patients I have treated have all commented on a number of occasions that nursing is an ’easy job’ or a ’nice choice’.

“One patient even got into an argument with me about it and neither of my parents think I work as hard as I actually do.

”I don’t want to play on it for sympathy or anything but I have found myself saying ’I am exhausted’ and ’I had such a tough day’ only to get a reproachful look, a smile or a tilt of the head from people who are closest to me.

“I have seen and treated patients who were very ill and had complex care needs. I am on placement, writing essays and people just say to me words to the effect of ’well, once that’s done you’ll be on the gravy train’ or ’this will be the hardest bit, though’.

“I cannot explain what I do without potentially getting into an argument so now I just clench my fists when they joke and jest at a family occasion or a night out with friends. Of course some of it is lighthearted but I know some of them really do hold this view and I don’t know how best to challenge them on it. But for my own sanity - and respect for my profession - I feel I have to!

“Can anyone help?”

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