Should I Be a Nurse? 5 Things to Think About

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    This article offers some of the pros and cons of nursing as a profession.

    Should I Be a Nurse? 5 Things to Think About

    Should I Be a Nurse? 5 Things to Think About

    Trevor stopped me in the hall at church. "I'm thinking about going to nursing school. I know you have been a nurse a long time. Do you think I should be a nurse?"

    Wow. I had to stop and focus. Thinking quickly, I answered, "If you are asking whether I would do it again, the answer is an unequivocal, ‘Yes!' I love being a nurse, and it has been the right fit for my life. But, if we are going to talk about you going to nursing school, then let's meet for coffee and give it a more thorough conversation." We set up a time that week, and I started to think about what to say to him.

    What are some things that people who are considering nursing as a career need to think about?

    1. It's hard work.
    Depending on the setting, it can be very physical-lots of walking, bending, lifting, long hours, inconvenient shifts. Sometimes this aspect of nursing is minimized on television shows. It can also be invisible to the average person who sees a nurse at work, whether in the ER, doctor's office, health department or surgical suite. Until you put on those shoes and do the walking yourself, the reality of the physical nature of providing nursing care can be elusive.

    2. Nursing is a flexible profession.
    This is one of the best things about having a nursing degree. A prospective nursing student can look forward to employment in a variety of settings: inpatient, outpatient, insurance, travel-the list is long. It is also possible to start out with a basic degree and add on education, beginning with an LPN and moving to an associate degree RN to a BSN, to a nurse practitioner, MSN or even as far as a PhD. When it comes to education, the sky is the limit with nursing. While some nurses pick an area and become specialists there, it is also possible to shift direction multiple times over the course of a career, pursuing a variety of areas of interest within the profession. Sometimes interests can vary along with life stages. In my career, I started out in Pediatrics, moved to Geriatrics and then to Home Health before settling into Parish Nursing and Hospice. In my twenties, I might not have been interested in hospice, but after losing a beloved family member, I saw what those nurses did and thought to myself, "I really want to do that!"

    3. Be prepared to start out with an entry-level job.
    After working hard in school and even excelling, it can feel like a set back to find out that the only available jobs are on the night shift in an area of nursing that is not your dream job. As with most careers, it takes time to get experience and there is simply no shortcut to good experience when it comes to nursing care. This can be an adjustment for some nurses who are trying to break into the career. It is probably worth going over this with a person who is considering going to nursing school. Additionally, nursing is like any other career: it helps to network, to be nice, to have a good work ethic, to be responsible, to be honest and to realize that the patient is always right. Having these goals in mind from the outset can help save many new nurses from disappointment.

    4. Beware of taking on too much debt to get the degree.
    Nurses make decent money but if the ratio of debt to earnings is off, the stress can become unmanageable. So before making any decisions about loans, talk to an expert to find out exactly how much this loan will cost per month and when you would start paying. It is worth considering ways to work through school and pay as you go. This can also help if the profession doesn't turn out to be a good fit for you. Being trapped is no fun.

    5. Have an open mind as you go into nursing.
    Sometimes people have narrow focus as they launch into nursing. This can create problems along the way. For example, if their dream is to be an ER nurse, then anything else can feel like a "less-than" job, just marking time until they are able to get to the place they really want to be. It can be truly career changing to view each position with respect and humility. We all have lots to learn, no matter where we work or how long we work there. While having a goal is a worthwhile endeavor, it should not be an obstruction as a nurse moves along a sometimes winding path toward the destination or dream job.


    When Trevor and I talked, he was enthusiastic about moving forward. I tried to be encouraging and realistic, sharing some of the pluses and minuses of this career that I love. What about you? What would you tell someone who is thinking about nursing as a career?

    Joy Eastridge
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Nov 28
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    About jeastridge

    Joy Eastridge, RN, BSN, CHPN, has been a nurse for 30+ years with experience in a variety of fields. She currently works as a Faith Community Nurse at her local church.

    Joined Jan '15; Posts: 289; Likes: 934.

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    11 Comments

  3. by   Alicerose
    Great article
  4. by   drthomas
    Thanks nice to see an article with information that makes you feel like you still making the right choice in life.
  5. by   Froggybelly
    I agree that finances should be a major consideration when pursuing a nursing degree. I have met nurses who were nearly six figures in debt by graduation, and it's just not necessary.

    Regardless of what you end up doing down the line, if you are in nursing, people may still consider you a nurse. You are a Nurse executive, Nurse epidemiologist, Nurse midwife, Nurse practitioner, etc. For example, our head of surgery for multiple facilities is a nurse. Our anesthesiologists frequently refer our CRNAs as, "My Nurse," though many of them hold terminal degrees in anesthesiology. There's a wide divide between nursing and medicine. Make sure you're on the side you want to be on before attending nursing school.
  6. by   jeastridge
    Quote from Froggybelly
    I agree that finances should be a major consideration when pursuing a nursing degree. I have met nurses who were nearly six figures in debt by graduation, and it's just not necessary.

    Regardless of what you end up doing down the line, if you are in nursing, people may still consider you a nurse. You are a Nurse executive, Nurse epidemiologist, Nurse midwife, Nurse practitioner, etc. For example, our head of surgery for multiple facilities is a nurse. Our anesthesiologists frequently refer our CRNAs as, "My Nurse," though many of them hold terminal degrees in anesthesiology. There's a wide divide between nursing and medicine. Make sure you're on the side you want to be on before attending nursing school.
    Thank you for your comment. You make an excellent point. When I was preparing to enter nursing school after 2 years of college, several people tried to dissuade me, but I persisted--I told them that I wanted to be a nurse, not a doctor. It's good to seek clarity before proceeding. Joy
  7. by   dkn86
    jeastridge - When you say a wide divide, what do you mean? I will be entering nursing school soon and my five-year is to work then pursue my Masters/NP and specialize further from there. Is the divide merely in the way one is viewed because one is a nurse and not a doctor, despite being able to do most things doctors do (e.g. your head of surgery, nurse anesthetists, etc.)?
  8. by   jeastridge
    Quote from dkn86
    jeastridge - When you say a wide divide, what do you mean? I will be entering nursing school soon and my five-year is to work then pursue my Masters/NP and specialize further from there. Is the divide merely in the way one is viewed because one is a nurse and not a doctor, despite being able to do most things doctors do (e.g. your head of surgery, nurse anesthetists, etc.)?
    Hello dkn86! I was responding to a comment above that from "Froggybelly, BSN, RN." You might want to go back and respond to her regarding your question and need for clarification. Thank you for commenting. Joy
  9. by   dkn86
    Sorry yes I see that now. I looked at the wrong UN when commenting.
  10. by   dkn86
    When you say a wide divide, what do you mean? I will be entering nursing school soon and my five-year is to work then pursue my Masters/NP and specialize further from there. Is the divide merely in the way one is viewed because one is a nurse and not a doctor, despite being able to do most things doctors do (e.g. your head of surgery, nurse anesthetists, etc.)?
  11. by   NotAllWhoWandeRN
    Quote from dkn86
    When you say a wide divide, what do you mean? I will be entering nursing school soon and my five-year is to work then pursue my Masters/NP and specialize further from there. Is the divide merely in the way one is viewed because one is a nurse and not a doctor, despite being able to do most things doctors do (e.g. your head of surgery, nurse anesthetists, etc.)?
    Using the quote button will help with clarity so people can read what you're responding to.
  12. by   S7ud3n7_Nur53
    I really love that you pointed out having an open mind. It seems most of my nursing school cohort has already decided they department they want to work in, but I think I'll stay undecided for a while still.
  13. by   jeastridge
    Quote from S7ud3n7_Nur53
    I really love that you pointed out having an open mind. It seems most of my nursing school cohort has already decided they department they want to work in, but I think I'll stay undecided for a while still.
    There is so much opportunity in being open minded. I'm betting you are going to be an awesome nurse! Joy

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