A nurse takes the pulse of a patient

5 Disadvantages of Being a Nurse

Nursing is a very noble profession. Many patients find more comfort, care, and explanations from their nurses than from doctors. But just like every profession, nursing has its drawbacks. Although it may seem glorious to picture yourself treating patients back to health, it’s important to remember the downsides of such a career as well.

Long Hours

While some positions, particularly those in a family doctor’s office setting, only require the normal working hours, not every job offers that. Emergency rooms and walk-in clinics can’t guarantee you hours that allow you to be home to pick up the kids from soccer practice or have dinner made when your spouse gets home – and the entirety of that time is going to be physically demanding. Patients have to be rolled over, picked up, and restrained. Nurses are on their feet for their entire shift and must be prepared to abuse their own bodies. Ten and 12-hour shifts are quite common, and if someone calls in sick, it isn’t a position that can be left unfilled. Occasionally, after finishing a shift 50% longer than the average worker, you’ll have to keep on going to fill in for someone else who’s called in sick.

Contagious Diseases

Speaking of calling in sick, nurses work around all kinds of spreadable illnesses: the flu, skin diseases, strep throat – you’ll have to deal with it all. Being around so many germs and sick people means nurses are at the front lines of the battle on all kinds of ailments, and therefore perfectly placed to contract them as well. If your immune system isn’t up to the task or you don’t fancy getting sneezed on by patients with the plague, it might be worth considering a different route to serving the public.

Gross Stuff

Nurses aren’t only around germs all day; they are around some really, really disgusting stuff. Snot, vomit, pus, spit, urine – if it comes out of the human body, chances are you’re going to get it on you sometime throughout the course of a day. Not only that – not every patient is going to be very hygienic. Nurses working in places like county health clinics that offer low-cost health care often have patients who don’t want or can’t afford to take very good care of themselves. Smelly oozing cuts, rashes in unfortunate crevices, and examining odiferous body parts are all part of the glory of being a nurse.

Angry Patients and Their Angry Families

In addition to the occasional unpleasant patients, nurses also have to handle some pretty unpleasant families and friends of patients. Some people, of course, are just downright rude, but some people are anxious, scared, and sick. They may not knowing what’s happening to them, and this can make them a little terse. Family members don’t always respond well when their loved ones fall ill, and doctors tend to have an aura of omniscience about them that tends to keep them shielded from patients’ and patient families’ displeasure. Unfortunately, this means all of that displeasure lands on the nurse. If you don’t have the most patient of dispositions, you may find yourself unpatient in return, which isn’t going to help anyone feel better.


Despite the fact that nurses are there to help people get better, the truth is that it isn’t possible to heal everyone all of the time. Death is a very prominent part of health care, regardless of the setting. Older patients in a clinic setting can fall ill or pass away from natural causes. Working in hospice care means you’re facing impending death every single day. Working in a hospital and/or emergency room takes a very strong-willed person who knows how to handle tension without letting it have an overwhelming effect on everyday life.

Last Updated: June 11, 2020