The Harsh Truths about being a Nurse and Nursing Student

The Harsh Truths about being a Nurse and Nursing Student

About the Harsh Truth Series

In life, you can’t control alot of things – this is the harshest truth about life. But there is one thing you can control and that is yourself and your reactions to the never ending challenges life will throw at you. The harsh truths is a bi-weekly interview showcasing the harshness embedded in different spheres of life and academics. Today’s edition focuses on the Nurse and Nursing Student.

The harsh Truth Series enables you embrace your own reality and realise that you alone can make you happy

An Interview with RN Egbu Precious about the Harsh Truths of being a Nurse and a Nursing Student

Hanat: Can we get to meet you?

The Harsh Truths

500L Nursing student of Babcock University.

Hanat:Why did you choose a career as a Nurse

Nurse Precious: This question has no specific answer…, but my inspiration was my Dad. As an elderly man, I always love(d) taking care of him, then I thought, why not generalize the care to others who might need it. Then, I decided to go into the caring profession and NURSING SCIENCE came to mind.

Hanat: What challenges have you’ve faced so far as a Nurse and Nursing Student?

Nurse Precious: So many, that I can’t even mention all…but, permit me to list them briefly;

1. Very bulky curriculum, having to read so many books, assignments, tests,notes, and exams. On top of that, we had a very broad syllabus.

2. Inferiority complex and unhealthy competition among Nurses and other Health personnel.

3. Poor communication channel and relationship amongst Nurses, student
Nurses and clinical instructors.

4. Little or no appreciation by clients and their significant others. Despite the fact that we care for health care consumers, we still get insulted and sometimes they even fight us, including the society atlarge.

5. The greatest challenge is having to endure everything that comes our way, including ill treatments by the public, and not doing anything but believing” PATIENTS HAVE RIGHT”. And so many other challenges.

Hanat: What do you find rewarding about the career?

Nurse Precious: The Respect and honour that comes with the Nursing profession.
The fact that Nursing can melt even the strongest hearts; the fact that Nursing grooms an individual and implants good morals; the fact that Nursing profession improves one’s CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS. These are just few of the rewards

Have you ever questioned your decision to be a Nurse and Nursing Student? Why or why not?

Nurse Precious: Yes, I have…
The reason(s) points back to the challenges already discussed, especially the curriculum and the fact that I can’t beat anyone that messes up in the clinical area (said jokingly). Most times, when I encounter some patients and their relatives, I just feel like giving them a beating but because of what the profession entails, I can’t do anything to hurt my patients. At times, I just ask myself “WHO EVEN SEND ME GO DO NURSING”??.

Same with when I remember I have a lot to read and accumulate, with little or no break and time for myself.

Another thing I considered was my temperament. It makes me question if I actually made the right decision to be a Nurse, if I’m really fit to be a Nurse.
But, I regard all these thoughts as mere “distractions” and then, I overlook them.

Hanat: How do you perform under pressure?

Nurse Precious: I see this as a tricky question. I feel every Human should have something that keeps them going.

Good ginger!! Then, I try to make lists of all I need to do whilst considering them based on priority and then, I carry out my duties based on the list.

But when the pressure is one that my list can’t handle, I talk to friends, engage in other extracurricular activities, sleep and then get back to work.

Hanat: What do you have to say about the Nigerian healthcare sector and the provisions they have to offer as a Nurse?

Nurse Precious: Hmmm…, We all know the answer to that. The Nigerian Healthcare Sector is close to 0.

This is because they give little or no incentives or even proper remuneration for Nurses who are actually the heart of the Healthcare Sector.

Nurses are not regarded as important individuals in health care, despite thefact that they are the mouth, eyes, feet and heart of the patients. That remain some of the reason every Nurse wants to leave the country to places where they are better appreciated.

I think there should be a modification and good change in Nigeria Healthcare Sector, as regards the way Nurses are being treated!!

Hanat: Do you see yourself practicing in Nigeria?

Nurse Precious: No, I donʼt. I tell myself “Nigeria is an insult to your Brain” and I am working with this.
Actually, Nigeria will be a stepping stone for me, but not my place of practice and focus.

Hanat: For you personally what would be the most difficult aspect of being a Nurse and Nursing Student?

Nurse Precious: Long working hours with no solid time for self and family.

Hanat: Describe a time when you were willing to help a patient who refused help and how did you handle it?

Nurse Precious: My experience with a patient in male surgical ward. He was scheduled for prostatectomy, and as a Nurse I was supposed to prepare him fully for the surgical procedure. I was in my 3rd year.

I did all that was required because he was my patient for that week, but when it got to shaving him..!! He disagreed saying ” You are too small to look at my private part, let alone touch cannot shave me”.

“E better make I no go surgery than say u shave me, small pikin like last born is much older than you are”.

Gosh!! I felt so embarrassed but that didn’t disturb me. What mattered was he was the 3rd of 6 patients for surgery that day, and I didn’t want his surgery postponed. So, what I did was document in his folder “patient refused care for reasons of insecurity” and then I handed over to the Staff Nurse on duty and she continued from there.

Hanat: What is your opinion on universal healthcare?

Nurse Precious: Universal health care should be made accessible, available and affordable to all and sundry as embedded in the definition of PHC. Healthcare should be based on scientific rationale , made available and accessible to everyone and at a cost they can afford throughout the period of their development. Healthcare should not be based on preferences or eye service or connect. It should be offered at maximum level and standard form to everyone that is in need of it.

Hanat: Describe a time when you helped someone make an important health- related decision?

Nurse Precious: There was this schizophrenic patient I met in Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro in Abeokuta… He had been there for 4years before our arrival. I was assigned to care for him for a week, which I was doing until a particular day when he called my attention to his bedside.

Then, I realized he was crying and I asked to know what was wrong with him. The response I got was “This voices I keep hearing are annoying, these people wouldn’t let me have my peace and it’s sofrustrating. I just want to end it as soon as possible and I’ll stop taking these medications because they are too much”. Then I realized that such display referred to suicidal thought(s), I became confused and made sure I was tactical in my response. Then, I asked him ” Why do u want to stop the medications”? He said they were too many.

I smiled and asked again” Did you always hear the voices when u took the medications”? And he said no.

That was it,the response I was thinking of…
Finally, I said ” If u didn’t hear the voices when you took the medications, don’t you think those people are scared of the medications and that’s a very good way to drive them off”??

He was quiet for some minutes and shouted ” YOU ARE SO SMART, NURSE” I’ll take this medications and make sure I get more when I exhaust them, so that those people will stop disturbing me”

I smiled at him and said, you got it!!
Funny right??

Hanat: As an aspiring nurse, are you prepared for inevitably losing patients? If yes, why and if not, how will you prepare yourself?

Nurse Precious: Yes, I am prepared.
Even though death is painful, it doesn’t annul the fact that it is inevitable!!

In preparation for these inevitable event, I have resolved to be so competent at disposing my duties and skills into nursing my patients to ” PEACEFUL DEATH” as instructed by our Mother VIRGINIA HENDERSON.

Hanat: Describe a time you were emotionally attached to a patient?

Nurse Precious: Ah…so many times especially on two occasions. First, with another of my patient in Aro. He naturally got so attracted to me and finally said ” I like you, I like the fact that you are a tomboy, I like your hairstyle and the way you walk”. we became friends (on a therapeutic level, though), we always played Ludo in the ward when there wasn’t much work to be done; he wouldn’t take his medications if I didn’t come to work…that I had to always check on him even when I was off duty.

It became so funny that the HOU observed and said I’ll be staying extra hours after my mates had left.
It was stressful but worth it, because I was so happy he was compliant with his medication because of me. And I never believed he cried on the last day of my posting there , I also couldnʼt help it, I cried in the hostel because I was really going to miss him.

Second one was a 200L student in my school, rushed into the male medical ward on account of VOC.
I met him while I was on afternoon shift and was assigned to care for him. I gave him a dose of pentazocine after which he said “i like your hand …please, be the only one injecting me”

I almost laughed…

But, when the Nurses realized he was rejecting the medications from them.They decided to make me his permanent Nurse.
After 3days with him on the ward, he said “Please, be my school mommy…I’ll let you meet my parents”. I liked him because he was so small, chubby and cute. I accepted his offer…but, he never lived to introduce me to his parents.

I lost my school son 2 months back and it took a long while for me to get over it.

Hanat: How would you differentiate between sympathy and empathy?

Nurse Precious: Sympathy is feeling compassion, pity and sorrow for other people’s hardship without necessarily understanding it or doing anything about it.

Empathy on the other hand, is understanding the feelings of others as if they were our feelings; and this sometimes lead to doing something to help.

What is your opinion on euthanasia?

Nurse Precious: The practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain or suffering otherwise known as MERCY-KILLING.

Hmm, I’ve had to answer similar question sometime last year, and permit me to give same response I gave. As a Nurse and Nursing Student, sometimes when I see patients with little or no pain threshold and long period of suffering and anguish, I feel so much pity for them and wish God could just take their lives and the pain would go.

I am a Seventh-Day Adventist and my Faith would not permit that I take Human life, either intentionally or unintentionally.
But, I still say if it is legalized that Euthanasia should be carried out in a Country and Health facility, then, it should be done ONLY FOR PATIENTS WITH CHRONIC DISEASES like cancer, CKD amongst others, that is if that’s the only help or solution to their ailment.

This should only be done after necessary steps must have been taken:

● Seek patient’s consent and make sure that’s what he/ she wants. Don’t do things out of your own feelings.

● Explore and note the opinion of patient’s significant others e.g family members, including children if any.

● Work on the hospital’s policy.e.t.c.

If all these are done, and I’m the one on duty, Iʼll simply report to the Hospital management and make known the reasons I would not be doing it, after which the work can be delegated.

Hanat: What does health literacy mean to you and what responsibility do you see nurses having in promoting it?

Nurse Precious: Health literacy is simply the ability to obtain, read, understand, and
use healthcare information in order to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment.
The sole responsibility of Nurses in ensuring this is “CONTINUING EDUCATION”.

● Nurses should be equipped with necessary information, skills and knowledge regarding health and wellness. The world is changing everyday. New things, New information, New practices e.t.c.

● Nurses should upgrade themselves with the latest information regarding healthcare, as healthcare is based on scientific principles these days.

● Nurses should leave the era of “THAT’S THE WAY WE DO IT, THAT’S THE WAY IT HAD ALWAYSBEEN”.

● Rituals!!!!! Nurses should act beyond rituals and equip themselves with advanced information daily.

● Nurses should know their onions from the cabbage (be good at what they do), and do it diligently.

should act with Confidence and not fidget at responsibilities.

Hanat: How do you maintain good mental health as a Nurse and Nursing Student?

Nurse Precious: Honestly, this is so difficult to do!!
But, what has helped me as a Nurse and Nursing Student are;

● I keep good and responsible friends that would add positively to my being, Friends that give me good vibes when I’m so down.

● I stay away any stress- provoking factor, such as social media trends, negative vibes from people and unnecessary arguments.

● I pray too. God is the ultimate source of Good health and Sound mind.

● I mind what I consume too.

● I make sure I get enough sleep.

The Harsh Truths


Hanat: Any advice to young and upcoming students?

Nurse Precious: Yes. Plan your life and activities, set realistic goals, prioritize your needs, keep good company, always involve God in all aspects of your
life,… keep a healthy lifestyle because PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE!!
Thank you.

Interviewer: Olalere Hanat Asake
Lagos State University, Nigeria

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Ephehx DhorCass

    Wow. This is really an eye opener. The part that made me tear up is about the boy with sickle cell anemia who had VOC.

    Now that I know what nurses go through, I’m humbled. My heart and love goes out to every nurse out there who are struggling and fighting to give love to the world.

    Thank you for this❤️

  2. Mimi Nma

    Wow 😊😊❤…M so much motivated by this tonight infact it made my weekend 😊😊😊❤❤..Like m so engrossed in being a nurse.. Although it isn’t easy with me doing the reading but I believe I can scale through and get Wat I want… Most times I will read and read and be like ‘wetin carry my mind go nursing at firstt’😅 …Being a nurse isn’t easy I actually do see Dem as mini doctors,most doctors don’t even experience what nurses do.
    Thanks so much for this ❤❤❤❤❤😊

    1. Fela

      Nurses are not mini doctors
      Nursing is not a branch of medicine
      Nursing is not a profession for medicine dropouts
      Nurses are nurses and doctors are doctors
      We are professional colleagues……. and both professions compliment each other

      The fact that I have to conduct my own assessment after the doctors diagnosis as a nurse to rule out certain things or even make a different diagnosis so that the doctor doesn’t treat my patient for what is not there, I need to have an excellent knowledge of pharmacology so that I don’t make the mistake of administering wrongly prescribed medications or excess doses, it is my duty to maintain sterile field in the theatre so that the surgeons do not introduce microorganisms into my patient, it is my duty to call off a surgery when a position hungry surgeon wants to hold a surgery that my patient can’t tolerate, I have to be able to study all medical investigations to ensure that no detail is left behind and still I have to be by the bedside of my patient to reassure and provide emotional support, I have to nurse some patients to peaceful death……. sometimes last week I was on the ward where two patients had seizures at the same time, another one who was semi conscious was vomiting(in need of sunctioning to prevent aspiration) and one other patient who couldn’t ambulate was screaming for bedpan and we had an hypoxic patient whose spo2 we had to monitor all at the same time and their relatives were calling to us but there were only two nurses on duty….. as nurses we don’t have the luxury to call one patient into our office at a time and even while we’re trying our best nobody sees it
      It’s ok to appreciate doctors, but if you do not understand what nursing is about get an experienced nurse to explain to you
      Nigeria makes it look like nurses are inferior and that is why after studying hard no qualified nurse wants to stay in this country and deal with the arrogance of Nigerian medical doctors coupled with low income
      So to me, both professions are to check and balance each other and work together. I hope the new generation doctors would drop the arrogance and pride and the new generation of nurses would drop the inferiority complex and work effectively with other members of the healthcare team

    2. DOCTOR P

      Thanks for this comment…
      But,I wanna correct an impression.
      Nursing is a PROFESSION SUI GENERIS,meaning nursing is a sole profession on its own with it’s own regulating and governing body.Nursing is not under medicine,even though they are both Health Sciences.
      I understand if u wanted to register ur appreciation for Nurses by using the phrase “Mini Doctors” ,but Note that Nurses are not mini doctors so to say.
      Doctors are different feom Nurses,and both are seperate profession with different roles they play in health care.

  3. Stellicose

    Thank you for this. It is really informative. I have learnt from this experience for yours
    Being a healthcare practitioner involves a lot, emotionally, mentally and all. I would also like to take home the fact that planning is very important for success. Thank you

  4. usman kilo

    Wow very interested, salute to all nurses around the world

  5. Oyemhe

    Wow……this is really an eye opener and a great motivation to me……I have learnt a lot to help me through out my period of studies……I am grateful that I am part of a great community which renders too notch care to patients……I pray God sees me through it all…..
    Thanks a lot🤗🤗🤗

  6. Yusuff Badirat

    Wow,this is really interesting and informative. Salute to all nurses out there🥰

  7. jonatex3000

    Thanks nurse precious, have draw some energy from this , it is not just a course, I believe it is a call

  8. Iyinomen Favour

    Thank you so much for this expository interview. It is relaxing to know that you can graduate from nursing school with your mental health in check. Thank you.

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