The Top 10 Things I Loved About Nursing
As a late-middle-aged RN who is newly retired from clinical nursing, I'd like to share a retrospective on a long and fruitful career that brought me a fair share of heartache, but also great joys. These are the things I loved about nursing. I hope that perhaps you'll see something of yourself in the paragraphs that follow and appreciate what your profession has given you.
As a nurse who has left the clinical side of the profession, I've had a little time recently to ponder both the good and bad aspects of the vocation I chose long ago. And although it got to be too much for me in the end, there was far more positive than negative. Here are the things I used to love about nursing:
10) I very much enjoyed working in the most comfortable clothing on the planet. What other field lets you work in what are basically pajamas with lots of pockets? And sneakers?
9) Variety! There are so many kinds of nursing that it would take several lifetimes to try them all. Just in my own career, I've worked LTC, med/surg, ICU, mother-baby, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. I've been a CNA, charge nurse, floor nurse, care manager, and director of nursing, and now I'm a long-term care surveyor. What else can you do with a two-year degree that offers so many different opportunities?
8) The chance to meet many types of people and see so many different situations. I've cared for politicians, doctors, local celebrities, priests, and hospital CEOs. I've also cared for people at the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum and found their stories just as compelling. I've seen lives begin, and I've seen many more of them end. I've known 100-year-olds who survived massive strokes and were still living full lives, and I've known 40-year-olds who gave up and died within weeks of receiving a cancer diagnosis.
7) A decent standard of living. Although wages have flattened out quite a bit in the past ten years or so, nursing still pays better than a lot of professions that require more education. I do believe that the BSN will eventually be the entry point for nurses; however, for some of us who were either super ambitious or simply really lucky, it's been possible to go pretty much anywhere and do anything we wanted with our ADNs.
6) OK, I'll admit it: I really did enjoy taking care of people and making them feel better. When I was young, I cared for my grandmother who had been a nurse during World War I, and I remember charting her medications and giving report to the doctor who came around to visit (yes, I'm old enough to recall when they made house calls). I carried those memories all the way through my nursing career, and nothing pleased me more than solving a patient's problem and being able to say, "Everything is all right. I fixed it."
5) Interesting co-workers. Nurses come in all sizes, colors, nationalities, and philosophies of life, and I've learned something from each and every one I've encountered.....even if it was only the way I DIDN'T want to work or live.
4) Learning about so many fascinating diseases and conditions. In school, I was the only one in my entire class who got to see a real, live case of necrotizing fasciitis as it progressed during my clinicals. And thanks to the curiosity ingrained in me during my days as a student, I've also become something of an expert on the chronic health issues which affect me, as well as several of the people I'm close to. I can't imagine dealing with these conditions without the knowledge base I have as a nurse.
3) Nursing has also given me some much-needed patience. As a child and even well into adulthood, I had a quick temper and a tendency to go off like a hand grenade at almost any provocation; now, when confused, combative, potty-mouthed Martha asks me for the tenth time in five minutes where the (rhymes with duck) she's supposed to go, I'm not even tempted to tell her.
2) Nurses are still the most-trusted professionals in America. Need I say more?
1) To paraphrase the old Peace Corps ad: Nursing is the toughest job you'll ever love. And I did love it, even though I sometimes went home dragging my aching bones like an old tired dog and swearing I wasn't going back. If life events and illness hadn't intervened to make it necessary for me to change course, I'd probably have stayed at or near the bedside until retirement age. Still, as I look back on almost two decades in healthcare, I'm satisfied that I made the right decision to get out before I had nothing left to give.
But you see, it's like this: you spend a good piece of your life holding the lives of patients in your heart and hands...and when you leave, you discover that it was really the other way around all the time.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 8, '14
About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN Guide
Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 26,806; Likes: 43,947
RN and blogger extraordinaire; from OR , US
Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psychJan 5, '14Very interesting read. Life experiences are the best schooling one can get
Sent via my iPhone using allnurses.com ❤️Jan 6, '14Nice reminders of why I started this journey, coming from a freezing cold first day back at work (some consolations of nursing education as a path...)Jan 6, '1427 years of nursing. Still love it for all 10 reasons you mentioned. Can't imagine NOT being a nurse!Jan 6, '14So very true....22years and still love what I do. Still love to fix someone and make em better. Reminds me of my 2 yo nephew "kiss it make it better"Jan 6, '14I started my career in health care as a candy striper (pinafore and all!), then CNA, and now RN. Although there are certain ups and downs to this profession, I couldn't see myself anywhere else. Thank you for the lovely article.Jan 6, '14I love your story, all the reasons you listed is why I wanted to be a nurse.. The way you describe your career and schooling sounds awesome.. Thanks for all your contribution...Jan 6, '14While I can't say that I've always wanted to be a Nurse, I can certainly say that I almost can't remember a time when I didn't want to be involved in healthcare, doing direct patient care. Sure, there are other fields that would allow me to do that, but when I looked at them, very few had the flexibility that Nursing does. Now that I'm knee-deep in RN School, I really can't see myself doing anything other than Nursing, at least full-time anyway.Jan 6, '14I really liked reading this. It's so wonderful that you can reflect on years of a career with satisfaction. Such a wonderful feeling.Jan 7, '14Viva, as another retired nurse I agree with all 10. Of course I am old enough to recall white uniforms, sensible white shoes, and caps.
I have not stopped being a nurse. I once said to a doctor that I was formerly a nurse. He looked me straight in the eye and informed me that I would always be a nurse, retirement does not change that fact. I agree.
One gift I find I appreciate is that I do not get upset by anything medical. Seize in front of me, be it a store or anyplace else, I will calmly get you safe and call 911. Blood shooting out, cover, hold and head to definitive care. I see others who dither and shrink and thank God and all those who helped me along the way to know what to do.
More than that. I think, is that nursing is being, not doing. Compassion cannot be taught. Empathy is more than a term on a test.
The art of nursing is alive and well, even if the practice of nursing is no longer in play.