1. A nurse must have the ability to call bullshit without making a Federal case out of it or getting into an argument.
This is a skill that's developed over time. Once, many moons ago, a resident berated me in the presence of a patient. Unfortunately for the resident, he not only flipped his lid, in a "you're going to kill this patient!!" sort of way, but he also was dead wrong.
What I would do now is take said resident out of the room and tell him once, firmly, that a) he's not to talk that way in front of a patient; b) he's not to talk that way to me again, ever; and c) he read the tubing wrong and was mistaken. Instead, what I did then was try to be a Good Nurse.
I didn't do it over the patient's head, but I tried to somehow make up for the resident's mistake by double-checking everything and then gently approaching him about his mistake. That trick never works with people who are willing to accuse you of incompetence in front of a patient. Calling bullshit immediately, calmly, and without room for argument would've been a much better decision.
2. A nurse must have an unlimited tolerance for management's good ideas.
Which, let's face it, are rarely good ideas. Take, for instance, our TEAM initiative, which I've not talked about much lately. I haven't talked about it much because, frankly, it was a flaming failure and a giant clusterfuck, and pretty much has sunk below the surface.
Anyway. TEAM is an acronym that stood for "Together Everyone Assmunches Management". Or something like that. I don't recall. The purpose of the TEAM initiative was to recognize Stellar Team Players in the Hospital System, especially as it related to Customer Service.
What actually happened was this: certain players solicited positive comments and notes and surveys (filled out in-house while the patient was still there) and so got good CS reviews regardless of their actual level of skill or competence. Other players made pacts with employees on their own and other floors to fill out surveys and send nice notes to Management whenever one of their bunch did something even vaguely out of the ordinary ("She didn't spit on me when I was lying in the ditch! What a doll!").
Management, being intelligent, took only a year and a half to notice that the same people who kept getting really, really crappy performance reviews were the ones who got stellar TEAM scores...and that the same people kept winning the TEAM Player awards over and over. So TEAM quietly went under after Management's attempt to clean it up failed.
3. A nurse must have a tin ear and no sense of smell.
This is becoming much more important as the focus on Customer Service increases. In an attempt to make hospitals less hospital-like, Muzak is now piped in to most patient care areas, all lobbies, and three-quarters of the cafeterias in hospitals across the country. If you think competing television shows at electronics stores are bad, try competing Muzak in the lobby/cafeteria area/outside patio at Sunnydale General. That stuff gets stuck in your right temporal lobe and replays until you want to take a DeWalt to your own head.
Also, in an attempt to make hospitals less hospital-like, a number of places, Sunnydale included, are laying carpet in the hallways and rooms of the acute-care floors. Now, I don't know about you, but my first instinct when it comes to places that people are likely to poop, bleed, barf, and pee unexpectedly is not to carpet it. Cover it with plastic, maybe, or tile, but not carpet. Besides the smell factor, the carpet will hold all the nasty bacteria that you can drop on it, and breed more--and make it nearly impossible to disinfect an isolation room.
Which means that we're now getting designated isolation rooms. See number two above.
4. A nurse must be unafraid of bladder rupture, megacolon, or severe dehydration.
Let's face it, people: as the economy continues its slow slide into chaos, even nursing will start being a non-growth career. As such, hospital managements will work out ways to get even more work out of fewer people. Some of my colleagues at other hospitals already have designated times for bathroom breaks and little tags on their IDs that allow them to be tracked (just in case they cheat and go pee early, I guess). Pretty soon, just having a big bladder won't be enough. You'll have to court infection and rupture with a devil-may-care attitude and a smile, all while attending to the Customer Service needs of your Guests.
5. A nurse must have a cast-iron stomach.
As the focus on budget increases and costs rise, what's one of the first things to go (besides staffing, supplies, and support)? Food. And not food service for patients--which is a good thing, as you kind of need to eat when you're recovering from surgery. Instead, food service for employees gets more expensive and less reliable. I recently paid seven dollars for a salad that was brown in spots and rotten in others. When I took it back to the cafeteria, I was told that I couldn't get a refund; instead, I could take my pick of other salads on the salad line.
I'm brown-bagging it from here on out.
So: Can you do it? Can you be a nurse? Do you have the skills, the balls, the brains, and the patience? Or would you rather go into accounting, or waste management, or hooking, or--worst of all--be a hospital manager?