Seeing people at their worst can be very emotionally draining, and it is definitely not for everyone. I work in a Neuro Trauma ICU right now, and a lot of the patients I take care of will never be the person that they once were. I do my best to give the highest quality care I can so I know that I helped my patient and their family through the difficult time even if the outcome isn't the one they hope for. Most days, I do feel like I truly make a difference. I cope with the stress by trying to separate my work life from my personal life and trying to not take work home with me. I do compartmentalize at times and try to view some situations as tasks I need to accomplish versus overanalyzing while I am in the situation. I am also lucky to have some great coworkers that I can laugh with at work to lighten up the shifts. There are patients that will always stick with you, but I am very lucky to have a supportive family that is willing to listen on the days when work does come home. I also try to destress after days at work by watching a funny movie or show to decompress.
Nursing, critical care or otherwise, isn't for everyone and that's okay. I think it's important to listen to yourself and put yourself first. If you decide to pursue critical care nursing and it isn't a fit, there are plenty of other specialities that might be!
Seeing people at their worst can be emotionally challenging and stressful for nurses, especially those working in critical care units. They regularly deal with life-and-death situations and see patients and families in distress. The amount of stress can vary depending on the individual nurse's coping mechanisms, support system, and personal resilience.
2. Is it hard to separate those emotions in your everyday life?
Many nurses find it challenging to leave their work-related stress and emotions at work. It can be hard to detach completely, especially after particularly tough shifts or heartbreaking cases. However, nurses develop various coping mechanisms over time, such as compartmentalization, mindfulness techniques, self-care practices, and seeking support from colleagues and family.
Becoming a nurse is a noble pursuit, but it's important to be aware of the emotional demands of the job. Self-care, mental health support, and work-life balance are key in managing the stresses of this profession. If you are interested in this career, you might want to connect with practicing critical care nurses for more firsthand insights and advice.