Nurses Motivation

  1. Im wondering and curious how many nurses out there got into nursing out of a religious motivation,in part or in whole? What I mean is this,were you motivated in any way, by the ethic of any of the worlds religions to be helpful to others in need?

    I know that I was in part,I say that cause there were other factors that entered into my decision to be a nurse,but the religious ethic to help others played no small part in my decision and I was curious if any one else out there in cyber nursing land had the same impetus. Thanks.

    PS,this ethic to help others ,based on a religious foundation,is what many times keeps me going.

    Does any one else feel that way or am I the only "wacko"?
  2. Visit ohbet profile page

    About ohbet

    Joined: Jun '01; Posts: 430


  3. by   CareerRN
    I can honestly say I did not get into nursing as a religious or spiritual calling. I did know that I would have to help people and that it was something that I could do. In fact I am very good at it, but I do not feel the need to suffer because my patients are suffering. I do not feel the need to forsake the pleasures of life because others are not able to enjoy them. I can be very empathetic to my patients which is not the same as sympathetic. I actually chose nursing as a career and not a vocation.

    Ohbet, you are not a "wacko". But, I have to point out one important thing to you that you have let loose from your statement: "PS,this ethic to help others ,based on a religious foundation what many times keeps me going." With this statement if you are talking about being able to continue to face illness, suffering, and the death of our patients then that is one thing. If you find the resolve, determination, and courage from a higher power, then I can relate in some ways. We all have a bag of courage and resolve we have to dip into from time to time. But, if in fact you are talking about working under the conditions that are prevalent in our profession, then you are only feeding the beast. Instead of saying no, then you are in fact making change very difficult and actually impairing improvement. If you are so religious that you allow yourself to suffer in order to minister to the sick, then you are keeping the profession from changing. In other words, if you continue to allow yourself through your religious of spiritual idealism to be subjected to what continues to go on in nursing, then you will see nurse to patient ratios increase as more and more nurses flee the profession. I have found that arguing the need for improvement with highly religious nurses who keep saying this is a calling and it is part of the price we pay for our calling is futile. In fact, it is even fatal to the profession as a whole. Nursing is dying a slow death and unless you can find a million young people who want to suffer while they minister to the sick there will not be many nurses left in the future. The world is filled with other opportunities that pay better and these includes benefits, and have better hours, and working conditions. To survive you need nurses who come in as a career choice and not just a calling.

    Please do not take this as a personal slam. It is not intended to be.
  4. by   hoolahan
    I think I was too young to be influenced by religion. I was motivated by the fact that my dad was sick and dying in the hospital when I was 16. A nurse showed me compassion, and my aunt also told me as I swabbed my dad's mouth with a glycerin swab, that I would "make a good nurse." So, since I saw nothing but the good things nurses did for my dad, and thinking a great deal of my aunt Kitty's opinion, I went into nursing school.

    I think as I matured, and found my own spirituality, it has only enhanced my practice.

    Career RN, you said you did not mean what you said as a slam to anyone, but I am hard pressed not to read it that way. Not sure how to respond to that, gotta think on it.
  5. by   nur20
    I feel as though i was "called to be a nurse," in other words born to be in this profession. By that i mean my true nature is goodwill to others, not just my patients/clients/residents, but to everyone that i meet or deal with in my personal and everyday life. A lot of people feel that it is an act, but it really is my nature.I believe people feel this way because it is not easy to find an honest, trustworthy, kind person in this world, and they mistrust and suspicious of everyone. I have often been accused of being "too good to be true". I look at it as just a sign of the times. Don't get me wrong, i am not so compassonate that i will not stand up for my rights, or fight for the cause of nursing because i feel that it would hurt the profession and prevent much needed changes, however you might say that i act according to a religious belief " Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Happy Holidays
  6. by   CareerRN
    At the time I decided to pursue nursing as a career, all of the data and the present, at that time, conditions were an incitement. I actually saw a future in nursing. It was a very creditable option for someone who wanted to make a career choice. Then as we all know some thing happened and wages stagnated and working conditions degenerated to the point of today.

    Nursing wages in most of the country have not even kept up with inflation. While the other career options and their salaries have soared even within other areas of health care.

    I have heard the arguments about nursing being a great career because of so much that is open to a nurse to move onto such as management, administration, teaching, law, research, sales, information technology, etc. The hard cold fact is that I could have focused on any one of these career options without going into nursing in the first place. I could have chosen any one of these other careers in the traditional way as a career. Nursing was my primary focus as a career choice and not a secondary choice to get into a different career objective.

    Now you can either take my word for it or you can research just about any thread/post about nursing and a "calling" or anyone with the focus of encouraging nursing, you will see a statement of how money is not a concern. You will also see a statement made about putting up with or tolerating the working conditions because of some religious or spiritual doctrine. If this is not the same as enduring personal suffering and sacrifice in order to minister to the sick, then what is it? There was even a recent comment on another post made by a nurse, "this is the price we pay for our calling?"

    You can say that nursing as a profession is not hindered by this view. I can say it is. I can only imagine a young person coming across these statements trying to decide a career choice that would serve them well in the future. I can see them thinking about things like nice cars, homes, and providing for a future family and saying, why should I have to suffer in a profession when I have so many other options? If nursing is made up with individuals who will allow themselves to suffer and tolerate their conditions, then maybe I need to find another career choice. This last statement has probably been made by thousands of nurses who have left or are planning on leaving soon, including me. This is what I meant by nursing is a slowly dying profession.

    Now if the nurses who have this view of nursing as a religious or spiritual endeavor want to push back nursing 200 years to a time where nuns or other religious orders were at the bedside, then they are on the right track. If they want to purge nursing of those of us who saw nursing as a career choice, then again they are on the right track. If they want to see nurse to patient ratios continue to climb and enrollment in nursing programs continue to decline, then again they are on the right track. As long as there are a group of people who believe or feel the need to personally suffer and who are willing to tolerate the conditions in this profession while at the same time allowing this continue and make statements like these, then other considering nursing as career choice will go some where else and other nurses will leave. If anyone thinks that they can find enough highly spiritual or religious individuals that will step into nursing as it stands now to suffer and tolerate the working conditions, then maybe they need to look around and see how many nuns are still at the bedside.

    One last thing, if anyone thinks they are fooling young people with all the career options open to nurses, think again. It only takes a microsecond to figure out that many of the career options open to nurse to ascend to, do not need a background in nursing to achieve in the first place. We all know that many of these options were escape paths developed by past nurses in order to flee the bedside, because they could not tolerate the atmosphere any longer.
  7. by   canoehead
    My choice for nursing didn't have anything to do with religion, but more with genetics. All the women on my mother's side are nurses so I was not likely to escape. As a matter of fact, all the women on my mother's side also suffer from clinical depression (I'm serious) and I wonder if that has anything to do with the choices they made. A need to relate to other's suffering there perhaps?

    I don't know, but it would be interesting to find out if there is a relationship.
  8. by   hoolahan
    Interesting canoehead. I once read a book called Adult Children of Alcoholics. It discussed that many ACoA seek helping professions like nursing or teaching. Mayeb there is a connection to depression in there as well. ??

    CareerRN, I guess some people see nursing as more than a career, like nur20 said, it is a calling for many. You can criticize people for saying money isn't everything, but for some it truly isn't. Like you said, if someone wants career ladders and money, let them go do something else. I don't want a nurse taking care of me who is resentlful that he/she could have been a senator or whatever! That doesn't mean I don't want/need raises like everyone else for heavens sake!

    There are many "careers" that people go into for the joy it gives them. For example, my friends went to school for horticulture, when they graduated, they worked in a floral shop, for way less than a nurse, about $8/hr. Why? They LOVE designing flowers and dealing with plants. They love helping a bride pick flowers for her wedding or giving solace to the grieving with assisting with flowers for a funeral. Clergy also do not usually get rich, but I hesitate to use that example, too religious for you maybe. What about teachers? They only recently starting to get good money. Why would someone have entered that profession before? Just to work 9 months out of the year? Not if you wanted to support yourself. They did it b/c they wanted to be an influence on young minds.

    And what about EMT's, firemen, and police? These are notorioous for low pay, yet people go into these professions for the personal satisfaction it gives them.

    There IS more to wanting to be a nurse or entering the field of nursing than money or moving into management. Why have some nurses chosen to stay at the bedside for so many years and probably will never leave it? Because they want to break their backs? No, they enjoy it, so who is anyone else to judge what is best for someone else?

    I think the bottom line is, when many people make their first choice for a career, as a young HS grad, they have not experienced enough of life to know, in some cases, for sure that the first choice they made was the right one for them. Sure on my bad days I curse myself for entering this field, but I forget it as quickly. I think that sometimes what you think you want turns out to be a dissappointment. It seems like that is the case for you CareerRN, and I am sorry for you. It sounds as though you are very unhappy being a nurse right now. Maybe you need a change, a new work environment perhaps, something to give you a new perspective. But then again, it's easy for me to say, I have changed jobs as often as we change seasons, with no regrets or shame. I will keep searching if I have to until I find the perfect fit. ONe thing I do know, I will always stay "at the bedside" even though that is in Home health, b/c if I leave that, I always end up going back again.

    I hope you can find peace CareerRN.
  9. by   donmurray
    Canoehead, I dimly remember once being told as a student that nurses' need to nurse stems from their sublimating the desire to be cared for and nurtured themselves. Whilst I'm not entirely comfortable with that pseudo-psychology, It seems to me less obstructive to the furthering of the cause of nursing than having a "calling"would do, since, as CareerRN puts it "I don't see the need to suffer because my patients are suffering"
    This setting up of oneself in the "victim" role has been the main frustrating factor in nurses attempts toward betterment of their lot, and not just in terms of salary.
  10. by   ohbet
    CareerRn,the ethic Im refereing to is the "love of neighbor",which I think is exemplified in all the major world religions as ,"do unto others..."

    I hope a bite of theological rambling wont be reported to the moderator but I cant help myself.
    Im speaking from a person out of the religion of Christianity,which understood correctly , does not seek suffering,does not endure it passively,but fights suffering and will not tolerate unjust institutions that hamper the help for the sick,suffering and dying.Christianity does not imply passivity.As a christian it is my duty to fight against any forces or powers that hinder the maximal care to patients.
    I guess I went off like this because I have also encountered this attitude of passivity of some christians,christian nurses,and I think it is a great distortion of what the religion,or I should say,the representative of that religion,exemplified. Thanks for allowing my rant,I feel good now.
  11. by   nurs4kids
    Honestly, I was motivated by the desire to make a fairly decent living..haha, boy was I fooled I guess deep down, probably religion and parental persuasion played a big part. Whatever the reason, I don't regret it one bit.

    Hool, wonderful usual. I think I recall CareerRN posting, at another time, that she's athiest(i may be wrong). Perhaps that's the reason for her irritation over this thread? Either way, some of what she says IS true. Until we quit showing bosses and the public this "care passion" we have and start setting some demands, we will continue to hurt nursing. In 100 years, it won't matter if someone is "called" to nursing. If you can't put food on the table with it, they will wait on the next "call" to choose a field. You can EXPECT adequate pay and still be a good CARING nurse. You can be CALLED to nursing and still EXPECT adequate pay To have one, you don't have to sacrifice the other.
  12. by   CareerRN

    I never stated I was an atheist. I take care of my own religious and spiritual needs in other ways, but not at work.

    I view my job in the same light as almost every other person employed in other careers in health care. Health care is a business. Every other health career recognizes this. Everyone else in the other sectors of health care treat it as such. Nursing is the only sector which far in large does not.


    I really hope you feel that way. I really hope you do not want nurses like me or who share my philosophy in nursing. In fact, you need to continue to announce it loud and clear. You need to drive off as many young prospective nurses as possible who do not share in your belief of sacrifice for a religious or spiritual endeavor. When you get sick and need a nurse there will be one just like you with their other 15 or more other patients rushing to your bedside to help.

    I might add that there is nothing wrong with me and I will not allow you to try and blame or shame me. I have more intelligence, self-respect, and self esteem to allow those tactics to work. I know there is a problem with in our profession that directly contributes to the poor pay and overall working environment. Instead of hoping around continually looking for utopia, you should open your eyes and to at least acknowledge there is a problem. In other words, if you are content to suffer that is fine, but do not drag the rest of us down with you complacency.

    Have you ever considered volunteering all your time to a charitable organization. I know there are free clinics all over the country where you can do this. You could eliminate all your grief and guilt about making money off the sick. You are so motivated by your religious and spiritual views that I am sure you would be more than happy to do this. There is no time like the present to live by what you preach. As you have said, you did not go into nursing for the money, so unburden yourself. Show us all how good of a christian you really are.
    Last edit by CareerRN on Nov 23, '01
  13. by   Ariko
    As a male nurse I have been constantly amazed by how many of us have spent time in seminary or as a Jesuit, or some other monastic discipline. My totally off-handed survey suggests over a third, maybe more.
  14. by   hoolahan
    CareerRN, did I ever say anywhere there are no problems in healthcare?

    I am not trying to shame you into anything. I am simply explaining my perception of why I went into nursing, as it related to the original question. You were the one to lump anyone who is religious into a category of nurse maids who perpetuate the cycle oif nurse abuse. I simply read into what seemed to me like bitterness or dissatisfaction. I apologize if I was off base. After all, are these not your own words...

    "I can only imagine a young person coming across these statements trying to decide a career choice that would serve them well in the future. I can see them thinking about things like nice cars, homes, and providing for a future family and saying, why should I have to suffer in a profession when I have so many other options? If nursing is made up with individuals who will allow themselves to suffer and tolerate their conditions, then maybe I need to find another career choice."

    It seems clear to me like you feel you are suffering in this profession. I hate to see anyone suffer, so I suggested you make a change, I meant a change in nursing. I never said you should leave!

    What was radnurse's signature again? Take that stick out of your but or something to that effect? For crying out loud I even wished you peace!

    Since you seem OK with trying to shame me into donating time or money, fine. I do not have much time to donate, but I have taken people to the grocery store when they swore they missed the van due to the VNA missing an appt, and when I checked there was no food in the house. I have paid so they could get their food. I have also made countless trips to the pharmacy for clients, and on occassion paid for their scripts. The most recent was a client who switched pharmacies, she was out of her seizure meds, had recently had a seizure too, and the new pharm said it was too soon to reorder, but they would give her some to get over the weekend until they "worked things out." I called the pharm myself and pleaded with them. No can do they said. I took a deep sigh, and decided I would pay for the difference out of my pocket. But, and I believe this is God at work here, knowing what my plan was, when I got to the pharmacy, it had all been straightened out, and I was able to get the whole month's supply, no charge, all covered by client's insurance.

    I am not one to toot my own horn, but you asked. I hope that is worthy enough for you! I don't do it to be a good Christian, or a good nurse, or to make you proud of me, I do what I do because I try to be a decent human being, period. I can't help it if my decency and integrity interferes with your ideas of the perfect nursing philosophy, or solving all healthcare crises.

    Oh yes, I also created a nursing web site with an emphasis on recruitment to home health nursing, and I get regular mail from nurses around the country and abroiad who thank me for helping them to decided, one way or another, whether to go into home health nursing. A small contribution perhaps, but I get nothing in return for it besides my own personal satisfaction.

    And no, I am not interested in nursing polictics, guilty as charged. Maybe when my family is grown. My first priority is and always will be my family, then work. Howvere, I am sure that an intelligent and insightful individual such as yourself would be the perfect person to fight on behalf of all nurses for the betterment of nursing and working conditions.

    And for the record, I have no guilt whatsoever about drawing a salary to care for the sick. Note the word "care" here!

    I will not argue this point with you any longer. I respect the fact that we do not see things the same way. Maybe you can also respect my right to have an opinion of my own as well?