13 Qualities of People Who Should Not Be a Nurse

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A career in nursing is a calling that requires more than just a professional degree. The world of healthcare demands individuals with a unique blend of compassion, resilience, and a commitment to providing unwavering care to those in need. However, not everyone is cut out for the challenges and responsibilities that come along with being a nurse. In this blog, we will address the crucial question: “Who should not be a nurse?”

It’s not about excluding individuals but rather about acknowledging that the nursing profession calls for specific qualities that not everyone possesses. Additionally, we’ll shed light on the qualities that may not align with the demanding nature of nursing.

While diversity in backgrounds and experiences is welcomed in the healthcare sector, certain traits might make the journey of a nurse more challenging for some.

Whether you’re considering a career in nursing or simply just intrigued by the dynamics of this profession, this blog aims to provide valuable insights into the qualities that suggest perhaps, “This might not be the right fit for me.”

1. People Who Don’t Enjoy Customer Service

who should not be a nurse

Many people who go into nursing are surprised that they often feel like a server at a restaurant. If that is a profession you despise working in, you may need to reconsider becoming a bedside nurse.

While there are administration jobs in nursing, the vast majority of nurses have to start at the bedside to get the experience that is often required to get admin jobs.

Patients in the hospital are confined to their rooms. They are completely reliant on hospital staff to supply their everyday needs. Food, water, living supplies, etc.

They can’t flag you down in the hall, especially if they are immobile. So they have to use a call light button. If fetching things for people or helping them with their needs sounds annoying to you, you will probably dislike the nursing profession very much.

2. People Who Are Squeamish About the Human Body

Even if you plan on going into a nursing specialty that doesn’t deal with bodily fluids, you still have to get through two years of nursing school.

A big part of nursing school is your clinical rotations. You will essentially work as a nurse on various hospital floors, unpaid, for two years. There is no way around it. You are going to see and have to deal with blood and everything else that comes out of the human body.

If that is a no-go for you, you may need to reconsider this career path. As mentioned above, most nursing specialties away from the bedside require bedside nursing experience first.

3. People Who Are Only In It For the Money

For many, their interest in the nursing profession is peaked when they learn about the average salary of an RN. And its true. Nurses do make good money, and it is consistent work. Job security and opportunity are there.

However, many professions make just as good of money, if not better. People who go into nursing because they thought the money would be worth it alone are greatly disappointed. If you are hating what you do for work, no dollar amount is worth it. You will always feel underpaid.

If a lot of the qualities/characteristics on this list describe you, this does not mean you are a bad person. It simply means the nursing profession may not be for you. And that is more than okay.

Contrary to popular belief, nurses aren’t “angels” who should be allowed to be taken advantage of just because they are “compassionate” people. Nursing is a legitimate career path and should be treated as one.

4. People Who Don’t Like Working on Their Feet

Nursing is a very physically demanding job. As we have covered, you will most likely have to start at the bedside, which is 12-hour shifts, three days a week. It might not sound like a lot on paper, but I assure you, it is a hard adjustment for a lot of people.

When you do finally get a chance to sit down and chart, the risk for interruptions is constant. Even on the night shift on a moderately “quiet” unit in postpartum, I get on average 7,000+ steps a shift. When I worked on a med-surg unit, I easily got 10,000 steps or more per shift.

If you have physical disabilities that may prevent you from doing this, it’s important to be honest with yourself whether this is a realistic career path. Unfortunately, most sit-down nurse jobs require years of experience on the floor.

5. People Who Are Uncomfortable With Death and Illness

No matter what specialty you work in, you are going to face the reality of death and illness. And this starts right away in your nursing school clinicals.

I work on what’s known as one of the happiest floors in the hospital. Mother-Baby. However, things are not always perfect. We see fetal demise, stillbirth, and complications all the time for example.

We all have had personal experiences and past traumas as well. Some of us can cope with these things better than others. If you find yourself to be a person who is greatly triggered by death and illness, nursing may not be the best path for you.

If you want to avoid being faced with your past traumas on a practically daily basis, I would recommend going with a lighter professional choice. Otherwise, your career is going to do more harm than good in your life.

6. People Who Can’t Set Healthy Boundaries With People

There can be such a thing as having too much empathy, even in nursing.

Empathy is an important quality to have, but you have to know where to set your boundaries. I have seen nurses ugly cry because they feel so bad for their patients and they don’t know what to do. While this seems nice and compassionate, when you go this far into empathy, it actually makes it hard to be a good nurse.

In Merriam-Webster they define empathy as: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another”.

You can be empathetic without becoming helpless yourself. If you and your patient are both in a helpless state, then what good does that do for anyone? You have to know where the boundary is.

For me, I have to be able to remain in a state of problem-solving and following science. Therefore, I know I can’t give in anywhere close to the point of tears. I can go just far enough into empathy where I can secure my patient’s trust, genuinely. But it is a skill that has taken me a few years to learn.

Do Your Feelings Get Hurt Easily?

This can be a problem in the nursing career. Just know, you are going to get yelled at, complained to, and possibly even assaulted. Which is totally wrong and unacceptable by the way. But it happens. Especially with dementia and psych patients.

If this is a no-go for you, you may need to reconsider nursing for your mental health’s sake.

7. People Who Don’t Believe in Modern Science

The year 2020 brought many strange divides with it. One of those was the divide between the “stick to the science” people and the “science deniers”.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are holistic nurses out there. However, just know, that nursing is a science degree. It strictly adheres to critical thinking, following peer-reviewed evidence, and administering medications. These are a huge part of your job.

If this is not something you can do without feeling like you aren’t being true to yourself, I would go a different direction.

It’s like with anything. If you find yourself in a position of having to be fake and go against your personal values, you will have a hard time looking at yourself in the mirror.

Now I personally love science and modern medicine. So nursing is a great fit for me. But I also acknowledge we all have our own backgrounds and paths, and I respect your choice.

But patients come to the hospital to get scientifically proven care. That must be respected above all else.

8. People Who Can’t Separate Their Religious Beliefs From Their Job

The hospital is filled with diversity. From the patients to the staff. This includes many different religious and spiritual beliefs.

Nurses are entitled to their own religious beliefs, but they must have the maturity and wisdom to know that they can not force those beliefs onto their patients in the workplace. Additionally, nurses cannot discriminate against patients because of their differing beliefs and lifestyles.

Nurses are expected to follow the Nurses Code of Ethics. This includes respecting your patients’ autonomy (right to self-determination), beneficence (to do good), non-maleficence (to do no harm), and justice. As is stated in the above linked nurses.org article:

“Justice is that there should be an element of fairness in all medical and nursing decisions and care. Nurses must care for all patients with the same level of fairness despite the individual’s financial abilities, race, religion, gender, and/or sexual orientation.”

I have witnessed numerous healthcare professionals refusing assignments because they “don’t agree” with that patient’s lifestyle or beliefs. It is absolutely unacceptable, and not respectable whatsoever. You don’t have to like it or believe it, but you do need to be a fair nurse who operates on justice.

Patients come to the hospital in need of care. They come with trust for the healthcare providers. You don’t have the right to refuse that care based on personal beliefs. You have to be willing to be an adult and do your job.

Being a nurse means working with a diverse population. It’s either something you can do or not.

9. People Who Struggle with Being Judgemental

There are people out there who just can’t help but be judgemental about anyone and everyone who doesn’t behave and/or think exactly like them. People who struggle with this just don’t make good nurses.

Being a nurse, especially when working in the hospital, you are going to see many down-and-out people. Addiction is a real problem in this country, an epidemic even. If this is something that triggers you, or you immediately move toward the judgment of people who struggle with addiction, you should probably rethink nursing.

Additionally, you are going to come across many different personalities, social statuses, sexual orientations, living arrangements, religions, political ideologies, you name it.

Nurses have to be go-with-the-flow, non-judgemental people to do well in this work.

10. People Who Can’t Keep Their Political Values to Themselves

I started working in the hospital environment at the very beginning of 2020 on an IMCU floor. Every patient had a television in their room on that floor.

You can only imagine the comments I heard every time I went into a room where patients were watching the news. Political comments on both sides, every time I went in that room.

It is not your place as a nurse to join in or to debate patients on politics. They are dependent on you during your shift. You don’t want to ruin that relationship because of political opinions. You must remain professional and a neutral person they can trust.

Even if you think you agree, you might have variations in your beliefs. Just one comment could be enough for your patient to lose trust or even worse, feel unsafe with you.

11. People Who Are Very Shy

Now you can be shy and be a nurse, but just know it is going to be very exhausting for you at work. You are going to have to talk to “strangers” every single shift, including their families and friends.

If this doesn’t sound enjoyable to you, it is something to think very seriously about.

I consider myself to be introverted and many nurses are, but that is different from being shy. Being shy can be defined as being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people.

Now it’s not a make-or-break quality, you can still do the job. You may just possibly start to dislike going to work or have social anxiety every shift. I’m sure that would get old and exhausting very fast. So assess your shyness. Visualize meeting 4-6 new patients every shift and imagine each of them having 3-4 family members in their room each day.

12. Dishonest People

who should not be a nurse

A good first step in honesty is assessing if nursing is even right for you to begin with. So good job! You are more than likely not one of these people. You must be honest with yourself to be able to be honest with others.

This should go without saying, but dishonest people should not be nurses. People who are quick to lie, cheat, scheme, steal, manipulate, etc. It is an incredible abuse of the power you have as a nurse. Nurses are given access to scheduled pain medications, expensive medical equipment, and responsibility over real people’s lives.

Honesty is one of the most, if not the most, important qualities of a nurse.

13. People Who Don’t Like Working Long Hours

If you are someone who prefers the 8-5, or even part-time work, nursing may not be the best career path for you.

It is pretty rare to find a nursing job with 8-5 hours. Even many admin jobs fall into the 4-10’s category. The jobs are out there but remember, you will need to get experience in the hospital to qualify for these types of jobs. It is very rare for a new grad to be hired into an admin role.

So if you can’t see yourself working 7am to 7:30pm, or 7pm to 7:30am three days a week, every week, just know that is more than likely non-negotiable when first going into nursing.

People Who Should Not Be Nurses: Our Conclusion

who should not be a nurse

In conclusion, the nursing journey is a profound commitment, demanding a unique set of qualities. While many possess the compassion and resilience required, some may find this path unsuitable for them.

Again, identifying who should not be a nurse is not about exclusion but recognizing that certain traits may pose challenges in the healthcare landscape. By understanding these aspects, individuals can make informed decisions about their career paths.

Whether it’s the demanding nature of the profession or a misalignment of personal strengths, acknowledging these factors contributes to a healthcare environment where each nurse can thrive, ensuring the best possible care for those they serve.

Now if you went through this list and you believe that you are someone who should be a nurse, here is an article we wrote to answer the question, is nursing school worth it?

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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