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29th Sep 2016

A nurse has shared her heartbreaking account of being underappreciated and overworked

"Today, yet again like so many other times, I have broken down crying wondering why the hell I bothered pursuing a degree in nursing."

A harsh reality.

Nurses are the unsung heroes of hospitals. They deal with patients personally, get to know their names and help them in many ways beyond checking bloods and handing out medication.

There is so much involved in being a nurse which many people do not realise. While it may be rewarding for some, a huge number of nurses are now sharing their stories of being under appreciated and overworked in Irish hospitals.

On a Facebook page called Support for Nurses, Midwives and Frontline Staff in Ireland, hospital staff are sending anonymous stories to be shared on the platform to highlight the struggles they encounter.

The page has garnered a lot of discussion and support as of late and one post, added to the page sums up the harsh reality of being a student nurse.

“Today, yet again like so many other times, I have broken down crying wondering why the hell I bothered pursuing a degree in nursing.” The annonymous mental health student nurse said.

They explain that they woke up feeling ill but decided to go in as they knew the hospital was short staffed.

“Off I drove, rushing to try get my daughter to school (I am a lone parent) in a car I can’t afford, wondering how I am going to pay for petrol as I am already nearly out, AGAIN. Also worrying about how I am going to pay for food for the rest of the week as I only have €25 and need to buy petrol.”

They go on to explain that when they got to work the only other nurse on duty called in sick, which meant her own workload would be far heavier. They talk about how they do not have time to eat or drink or even go to the toilet as they are too busy.

“Words cannot express how miserable I was today and have been on so many occasions in the past. If anyone asked me advice on pursuing a career in nursing I would strongly advise against it. It is by far the worst decision I ever made. The HSE is shockingly understaffed and over worked.” They said.

They add that they feel it is unfair that the bus drivers go on strike and that is it not an option for nurses because people’s lives are in jeopardy.

“It really hurts to know that bus drivers spend 4-6 weeks training and get paid more than a nurse after doing a grueling 4 year degree. We are so unbelievably undervalued and we find it difficult to strike in numbers because people may actually die if we do strike as we are so short of staff. Who the hell else is going to look after the dying patients if we strike????
I did not get paid a penny for the work I did today as I am not even in my internship. Zilch. Even when I finally qualify I get paid buttons for the work I do, just like all the other nurses when they qualify.”

They then talk about the financial difficulties they face working as a student nurse and their fears for their daughter.

“I can barely feed my daughter and I cannot pay my car tax/insurance, my electricity, I often stay freezing cold in the winter because I can’t afford to put the heating on. I don’t buy myself any clothes, my socks are full of holes (no joke), I have a non-existent social life because I simply can’t afford to go anywhere (no exaggeration). I am due to pay €270 for my daughter’s school books and I don’t bloody have it! I don’t get proper sleep every night because I am so anxious about money and work and so pissed off about my not so promising career choice. I am depressed, run down and so bloody angry right now. I cried the whole way home in the car today that I could barely see the road.”

“My daughter shouldn’t have had to comfort me when I walked in the door from work crying my eyes out, it should be me comforting her in times of need. She made me tea and wrote on the cup with chalk “It will be okay, I love you”. I am crying now even writing this. So many times she has had to see me in this state. I have just had enough.” They said.

The nurse adds that even when they are qualified it is unlikely to get much better.

“When I qualify I will still be struggling and getting paid fuck all! It’s not fair that the only option that will see me and my daughter have the quality of life we are entitled to and deserve, is to leave my own bloody country. It makes no sense whatsoever. It makes my blood boil. If I stay here my own mental health will be effected and I won’t be available to look after anyone else’s mental health. If I go I must leave my family, my friends and my home, my culture and take my daughter away from her school, her friends, her life and the things she loves. I am at the end of my tether. I am broken, defeated, deflated and soul destroyed. I am a former shadow of my happy, bright eyed, social self. I am lost.

She finished by saying:

“How are we as nurses expected to look after others if we cannot look after ourselves? Why does the government not care about us? Why are we so undervalued?
From a really wore out student nurse on the brink of giving up. “

You can read the full post here.