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The Real Poop

Give shots. Tie shock therapy patients to their beds. Load enema bags. Clean puke off the floor. Pop bedsore zits. Sounds like your typical Friday night, right?

Suppose you care about other people—you want to help them, administer medicine to them, tend to their wounds and rid them of their maladies - but you're not dead set on having the letters "PhD" after your name.

If that’s the case, then you may want to consider a career in nursing. As you learned from Meet the Parents, nurses can be men as well as women (but usually not both at the same time). What you may not realize is how diversified the career path actually is. You can specialize in ambulatory care, critical care, emergency/trauma, holistic care, hospice, surgical, or occupational health. Need we go on? Oh, we do need to go on? All right then - you can be a perianesthesia or perioperative nurse, a psychiatric/mental health nurse, a radiology nurse, a rehabilitation nurse or a transplant nurse. Convinced? Okay, we’ll stop.

The place of employment can also vary - nurses may work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, outpatient treatment facilities, schools, or nursing homes. Many work regular business hours, but if working in a 24-hour care facility, they are likely to be on call and may work very unusual hours (like 29 to 37 o’clock).

Nursing isn’t an easy job, so be forewarned. You’ll get along with many of the doctors, but many others will have egos the size of Alaska and will get off on bossing you around. You may also get attitude from senior nurses who don’t especially like the idea of you moving in on their territory. You’re going to have to deal with the emotional impact of seeing patients suffer, struggle and die - possibly even because of something you did or did not do. When truly awful things happen - there’s an earthquake, a bombing, mass floods or fires, etc. - you don’t get to go home and hug your family. It's times like this when your job gets really tough and you have to put in extra-long hours - tending to all of the hundreds of suddenly injured and dying. 

Even when things are not catastrophic, nursing is a career that requires you to give 100% of yourself 110% of the time (which is easiest to accomplish during a leap year). Some jobs leave you physically drained, some leave you mentally drained, and some leave you emotionally drained. Nursing takes care of all three. Yes - at the end of every day, you should be a shell of your former self. Then you'd better regrow a shell during your four hours of sleep, because you're getting deshelled again starting early tomorrow morning. 

Nurses go through all of the bad because it is more than balanced by all of the good. You know that, while countless others are sitting in cubicles across America, filling out spreadsheets and putting in the monthly order for more coffee filters, you are helping to save lives, to bring whatever joy and hope you can to those with little to be joyful or hopeful about, and to help some pass as peacefully and painlessly as possible into the next realm. It is an unbelievably important duty you have to fulfill, and you do so with love and pride in your heart. Because that is just the kind of person you are.

What a bad time to have to sneeze.

It is a difficult, demanding job, but one with great rewards, not the least of which includes discounted pairs of scrubs.