A sort of “us” vs. “them” mentality takes hold when nurses from these two different employment settings takes place. Each feels they have the better of both worlds, but is one setting really more desirable than the other? Some very important and some lighthearted benefits apply to both places:
The hospital is a 24/7 world of patient care where you hope the cafeteria has something good available at the 2:00 a.m. grazing time. The private office may have a microwave and a refrigerator where you are actually able to sit down and eat, but then again the pizza place across the street makes a wicked Caesar salad. The hospital, if you don’t get your break, may offer a vending machine with trail mix or cold Pop-tarts.
In private practice, you don’t routinely have patients “go bad” on you. At the hospital, well, check with ICU or stepdown on that one. Bedpans, incentive spirometers, full urinals are rarely hurled at nurses in private practice. In the hospital, the words “can I have a sleeping pill?” usually means a good night for the nurse.
In private practice, CEUs are hard to come by. In the hospital, CEUs are often paid for, provided and nurses are frequently encouraged, to go to national conferences. In the hospital mandatory in-services also keep nurses up-to-date on the latest equipment and procedures.
In hospitals, teamwork is essential and intrinsic to positive patient outcomes. In private practice, the nurse may be working alone. In private practice, the working day ends, and the nurse can go home and enjoy dinner with her family or fall into a bubble bath. In the hospital, the nurse may be mandated to work over (but be given a free meal ticket as a “thank you” for staying).
In whatever setting you choose to work, know that you are a very valued member of a well-regarded profession and that the patients are glad that you are there. Just keep in mind for yourself, however, that if you are thinking about making a change and going to the “other side,” the shade of the grass may depend on the angle from which you’re looking at it.