Nurse Life: What it’s like to work as an RN

A nurse communicating good news to a patient
A nurse communicating good news to a patient

A career in nursing is respected and valued, and statistics continually reveal the nursing profession to be the most trusted profession in the United States. According to a recent Gallup poll on the ethics of people working in various professions, nursing maintained the highest rank. Approximately 78% of American adults believe nurses have high ethical standards and honesty.

Nursing is filled with patient and family interactions that can make a meaningful difference. One reason to choose nursing as a rewarding career is that nurses can positively impact others through their integrity and trustworthiness. This blog will discuss what a day in the life of a nurse is like, and highlight the many ways nurses commit to delivering quality and compassionate health care in their daily work.


Role and Responsibilities of a Registered Nurse

A day in the life of a nurse can vary depending on the primary setting or specialty area, but many general responsibilities are common in almost all settings where nurses work. For example, RNs engage in direct patient care activities that include:

  • Physical health assessment
  • Medication management
  • Patient education
  • Advocacy and interdisciplinary collaboration

At the same time, nurses are required to complete documentation, adhere to proper infection control protocols, provide emergency response interventions when needed, and develop themselves professionally through a commitment to continuous learning. 

Nursing can be an excellent second career because each individual's life experience and unique strengths can be assets for quality patient care. Nurses with diverse backgrounds can relate to different patients and families, fostering trust and openness that can enhance effective communication and promote excellent patient experiences. 


Hospital Nurse Stories

One of the most effective ways to understand the nursing profession is to hear directly from nurses who share their experiences of nurse life. Below are some quotations on different facets of nursing to consider.


Empathy for Others

Nurses put themselves in the place of others when they ask how their patients and families are feeling. This is not limited to physical health but also encompasses emotional and spiritual aspects of care. The call to be a nurse is summed up in this description by Ana Pamela, RN

“We leave our emotional baggage at the doorstep and we assume that there would be a person coming in who is in much bigger trouble and in much deeper pain than what we are in–our patients. We took an oath to take care of them and even underwent training just to therapeutically communicate with them. We ease their pain. We help to somehow lighten up the burden, and make things easier for a complete stranger.”


Difficult Decisions

There are times when nurses advocate on behalf of their patients, and other times when they must respect patient and family wishes during difficult decisions. One of those moments is during the signing of a “do not resuscitate” order, or in providing end-of-life care. 

The choice of death over life is a complex decision for families, and nurses are there as a supportive presence. Allowing a patient to pass away when the decision to terminate life support is enacted has been described by Sheena Maireen Saavedra, BSN, RN

“We are all at war for a miracle to happen in our reality, but what if we are waiting in vain? As nurses, we are closer to seeing the flat fact that life is a cycle. When there is death, there is life. When we choose death, we give way to life. All we can do is accept the fundamental truth that death is inevitable and that we agreed to choose death so that the life of the ones left behind can continue.”


Providing Care Where Needed

Nursing care extends beyond the ambulatory clinic or hospital unit. Sometimes nurses embark on medical mission trips, and other times they are tasked to care for homeless people in their local communities. Jean-Luc-St-Armour, a nurse clinician, describes his role in providing care on the streets during the COVID pandemic:

“That’s when I had the idea of walking around with a backpack (he still does this to this day) full of Band-Aids, blood sampling kits, gloves, gowns, disinfectant wipes, etc.” 

St-Armour and his team collaborated with organizations in the community to provide health-related services in tents that were set up for this purpose. They also distributed food and other needed resources.


Collaborative Teamwork

There are times when collaborative teamwork is essential to overcome a nursing or health-related situation for the greater good. Team building and servant leadership are helpful in these situations, exhibited and described by Ryan Bisessar, RN, MSN, of Mount Sinai Hospital

“ ‘I like to put others first and to think about, OK, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna set up my unit? What can I put in place?’ The head nurse even went so far as to buy eye protection for his team out of his own pocket. When you have good teamwork, it creates a positive environment, and that environment in turn promotes healthy teamwork.” 


Benefits of Nursing Education

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree benefits aspiring nurses who desire practice opportunities in various work settings. Nurses with a BSN are known for competency in skills such as:

  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Case management
  • Health promotion

BSN nursing careers are plentiful and include clinical and non-clinical positions. For example, the solid foundation of a bachelor’s in nursing prepares graduates for opportunities such as:

  • Telehealth 
  • Nursing administration
  • Nursing education
  • Public health 

A BSN can also be the foundation for attaining additional certifications in informatics or pursuing graduate nursing education, allowing you to progress further into advanced practice or faculty appointments within a college or university setting. Whatever your future nursing career aspirations, the BSN is a solid starting place that can open doors to various fulfilling jobs.


Pursue Your BSN Degree at Holy Family University

If you’re looking for a nursing education with values, Holy Family University is an outstanding option to pursue your BSN if you already hold a bachelor’s degree. An Accelerated BSN (ABSN) from Holy Family leverages your existing bachelor’s degree and helps you transition into the nursing workforce sooner than a traditional four-year nursing program. 

The Second Degree Distance Hybrid BSN program is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a program with:

  • Rigorous yet rewarding instruction
  • Affordability when compared to local programs
  • High NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Fewer prerequisite courses are required for admission (five at Holy Family University whereas other programs may require eight or nine)

Earn a high-quality and accredited ABSN degree at an outstanding value with Holy Family’s mission-driven curriculum. Experienced faculty will develop you as a holistically trained nurse, ready to serve patients. Plus, you’ll save time with the supportive clinical placement team that helps you find preceptors and clinical sites.

Download your program guide and speak with an admissions counselor to get started today.