1. You become a human Waze.
During your days as a student, you hated it when random people would approach you to ask for directions around the hospital. Because most of the time, you had NO CLUE where these places were, so you had to endure their judgmental stares. When you started working, however, it gradually became second nature to give accurate directions—even the most hidden doctor's clinic in the hospital. #LikeABoss
2. You're forced to live with uncolored hair.
In the strictest nursing schools, even dyeing your hair brown or getting blonde highlights isn't allowed. Some hospitals would also discourage hair coloring, so you've always sported your natural hair color. You also need to keep your hair neat by getting a bob or a pixie cut, and if you had bangs, you used headbands (also in black) or a ton of bobby pins to keep them off your face (you'll get demerits from your clinical instructor if you didn’t!). Prefer long hair? You're probably already a bun or braid expert!
3. Because of your pristine white uniform, rainy days are the absolute worst.
It has always been difficult AF to prevent muddy water from splashing onto your white skirt, white stockings, and white shoes every time you had hospital duty. The normally short walks from the gate to the hospital entrance seem to take forever and feel as if you’re going through an obstacle course.
4. You can go a whole shift without eating or going to the bathroom.
You can have 10 or more patients when your ward’s a "full house" (i.e. all of the beds are occupied), and you need to be on top of each patient’s health needs. You take vital signs (temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure—the works), give medications, turn and feed bedridden patients, and fill out piles of charts. Sometimes, you rarely get to sit down, too. Lunch breaks are limited to 30 minutes tops and pee breaks can be rare. You really do need to hold off all your humanly needs until your shift is over during the most toxic days. Who needs the gym when you're basically working out for eight or more hours?
5. When you do get a “toxic” shift, it’s probably because someone ate pansit or spaghetti.
Sure, during Pinoy birthdays, noodles or pasta represent long life, but for nurses, doctors, and other hospital employees, they’re an omen for a looong, stressful shift. Nobody can really point out how this superstition started and why it really happens across hospital wards, but whenever someone brings leftover pansit as a baon, you brace yourself. And when a patient offers you some otherwise irresistible Jollibee spaghetti as a “Thank You” for your hard work? You politely decline (and maybe just buy yourself takeout on your way home.)
6. There will be times when you have nothing to rely on other than your confidence.
Sometimes, you'll be asked to do a procedure that you have zero practical experience on. Sometimes, your patient will ask you to explain what a drug does and give him a crash course on human anatomy, pharmacology, and disease management. Sure, you saw how that procedure was done previously and you miraculously know most of the prescription drugs or health conditions by heart, but there will be times when you need to wing it and hope you don't screw up with your hands or your health teachings. You then read your textbook when you get home or Google it later on and find out you didn't, thank goodness.
7. Nothing much grosses you out, and NSFW topics don't really make you uncomfortable.
Talking about bloody surgeries, disease-afflicted organs, or disgusting bodily fluids over a meal is normal among nurses. It's just the usual kwento with your friends. NBD, really.
8. You virtually have no social life.
Unlike most of your friends, your off-days aren't fixed on weekends. Thankfully, some of your friends adjust outings and get-togethers to your schedule, so your social life doesn’t really vaporize into thin air. However, your decision to go on that lakad still largely depends on your shift that day or the next day (because you can't go on a night out if your shift is 6 a.m. the next day!) If your friends are planning an out-of-town trip, you also consider if you can pick your off-days (and go on straight five-day shifts afterward) or if you have vacation leave credits left. And when you're forced to take a 12-hour shift when you have dinner plans, there's a great chance that your meal will be siomai, rice, and a bad case of FOMO on the side na lang.
9. A doctor's handwriting can be as confusing as Hangeul or hieroglyphics.
Maybe because they're always pressed for time, so some doctors really can't help it if their notes and orders are not decipherable. That's why you always have that favorite doctor whose legible penmanship makes your life easier.
10. There's one thing that secretly turns you on aside from the sight of a cute doctor: the sight of clearly visible veins.
Because, damn, those veins would make it so easy to start an intravenous line (what people normally call "dextrose" even though not all IV lines deliver dextrose).
11. When the person before your shift is absent, you die a little inside.
If you're lucky, your ward can get a floater who can help out with some of the tasks. But in the worst cases, especially during calamities, you need to take a double shift. That's 16 hours (or more), possibly with relatives who think you're there at their every beck and call. FML.
12. The job's not as easy as how TV shows typically portray it, and no matter how much you study in college, it's waaay harder.
It's not just about taking temperatures, giving sponge baths, and assisting doctors. If that were the case, nurses wouldn't need to study for four years and take the boards! The job requires you to be conscientious in every way—you need to be knowledgeable about every nursing task, you need to be skilled in procedures you're licensed to do, and you need to be a critical thinker in times of life and death. On top of this, you need to show empathy, think proactively, and be extremely patient. It's a whole mix of physical, mental, and emotional stress (and most of the time with little sweldo to look forward to. *sigh*)
13. Being a nurse never stops.
You're every tita or tito's "taga-BP", and aside from this never-ending role to take blood pressure readings, you're also tasked to administer injections like flu shots or even glutathione injections. You're also a walking WebMD to your friends, who share all their symptoms with you, need your reassurance that they don't have cancer, and depend on you for health advice. The best reward, though, is the gratitude you get from former patients who take the time to reach out to you. Those instances really make you kilig and push you to go on—no matter how toxic the job gets!