This was indeed a good question, and it was very interesting for me to read all of the previous responses. In my personal encounters I have come across so many diverse personal reasons of why people chose nursing as there profession, since this is a topic that I am sure most nurses have discussed with their peers.
I have been a RN for 11+ years. I was always interested in the healthcare field, and seriously considered a Medical Degree(I am so glad that circumstances directed me toward nursing instead). I, like many others, wanted to be in a profession in which I was in close contact with people, and I could make a difference. But, I was also drawn to nursing at the time because it was viewed as a respected and secure profession, in which there was immense diversity of fields. There was a nursing shortage at the time, and I was certain that whereever I went, I would be ensured a position, and in I field that I was interested in at the time.
Yet, as most long-time nurses have experienced, the climate in nursing, and healthcare in general, has been ever-changing. Most nurses never thought that there would be reductions in workforce or atrition of positions, which would lead to working short staff, and sometimes unsafe conditions for delivering patient care.
As a whole, nursing has been a rewarding profession for me, mostly because of the diversity. I have been fortunate enough to deliver patient care in different arenas, be a department manager, and perform in administrative positions. Yet, it is so disappointing to me to see the low morale that has set in for many nurses--and it is contagious. It would be dishonest for me to say that I have not considered alternatives to the nursing profession in recent years.
Most disappointing to me is the lack of cohesiveness in the nursing profession. I have found that some of the more recent nurses have gone into nursing simply for the fact it only required two-years if education to gain a respectable salary. I may be idealistic, traditional, and old-fashioned, but I believe that nursing is a profession that you go into because you CARE about people and you believe that you can help them and make a difference. I believe that this has made a significantly negative impact on nursing. In my opinion, if the nursing profession is to continue to thrive, nursing needs to take a close look at our future, and those that may affect the outcome of the nursing profession.
I apologize if I went off on a tangent, but felt this was good forum for discussion.