HELP - Why did you decide to be a nurse?


I’m hoping for feedback about why / how people decided to get into the nursing field. ** How did you learn what it really means to be a nurse versus simply a mental picture of what the job is like?

My thoughts for now are to volunteer / job shadow at a hospital and to talk to nurses about their experiences. I personally want to help people and have a positive impact on others lives but what other ideas would help me better understand the day-in-the-life of a nurse. The pros and cons / ups and downs.

A brief personal summery. I’m a 34 male and have worked in banking / finance for 6-7 years. I cannot imagine making this industry my “life’s work” and have not been happy for some time (even before the current economic woos). Over the past 2 years I have worked hard at personal introspection and trying to uncover what motivates me and provides contentment. After talking to consolers, professionals in many different fields and college career center reps, I decided that a career in healthcare and nursing is likely to be a good fit. I’m currently finishing up pre-recs and plan to apply to a nursing program in late 2009. However, I’m looking for a bit more advice before turning my live completely upside-down.


Purple_Scrubs, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 1,978 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

My mom was a nurse (has been for 40+ years), but I never had any desire to go into nursing until my husband was hospitalized and later had surgery. The nurses that cared for him (and me) inspired me to consider the field. I left my office job and got a second bachelors in nursing from an accelerated BSN program. I am still a relatively new grad working as a school nurse and I love it!

If you want to get a real good idea about the field, try finding work as a nurse assistant or patient care tech, or even a unit secretary. You will get to see nurses in action and get a good idea if it is for you (but remember you don't have to love being US or PCT, you just have to see if you think you would love being a nurse, the jobs are very different.)

Specializes in Urgent Care NP, Emergency Nursing, Camp Nursing. Has 12 years experience.

I'm a failed premed who's now in a DE-MSN program. I'd done volunteering on a med-surg floor previously to try to help my med skool application - didn't see a lot of the docs, but saw what the nurses did and I figured I could do that after I get my RN and while I'm working on my NP.


2 Posts

I'm a soon-to-be nursing student, and the decision to become one didn't come easy. I have a BS in Computer Science, which I've never, ever applied for varying reasons: having to sit in front of a computer all day to type codes being one of them. Anyway, it took me years and a very understanding and supportive husband to learn my "calling." I've always wanted to help people, but didn't really know how without sacrificing the family's needs (money + time) and my own personal needs (for growth, etc.). I just thought that nursing was the perfect choice for everything that I wanted to do in life: have a career as a floor nurse or a clinical instructor (or whatever, endless possibilities here), make and save money, maintain a balanced life with (future) kids and husband, go on medical missions, learn new things, etc. and still have time to pursue other interests.

Volunteering/shadowing in the healthcare setting is a great idea! I had a volunteer experience back in college and I'm planning to look for volunteer work again, this time in a hospital setting, to get some more experience with patients before school actually starts. I agree with Purple, you may want to look into a CNA class to learn the basic skills and to get some clinical exposure, however short it may be. I took one and knew even before then that an RN's duties will not be exactly like those of a CNA, but it helped to learn and do them anyway.

I am glad you are weighing this decision very carefully. I can't tell you the number of people I've encountered who wanted to become nurses ONLY because they knew there was more money in it than in their current job. Now, more money's not a bad thing (who doesn't like more $$?), but personally, if that's the ONLY thing that's motivating people to become nurses, boy, I wouldn't want to be sick and cared for by any of them.

If you're fascinated by the human body, great. If you're determined to leave a legacy in this world through your work, even greater! I guess what I'm saying is, it takes both heart and mind to decide to become a nurse (a good one). So many lives, after all, rest in your hands. Good luck!


109 Posts

I, too, am finishing up my pre-req's...I should be done by May/June in time to apply for fall. I knew from career day in 1st grade that I wanted to be a nurse when one of the kids grandmother came in in her nurses' uniform (I'm talking mid-70's here..old school w/cap and whole9).

Life went on...I joined the Army, met my husband, started a family. Ffwd to '97 and a close cousin had premature twins. Went to see them and that cemented my dream and set the wheels in motion.

I'm 37 now, and with Army life and 4 kids, it's been slow going but I'm almost there.

I think nursing is something that you have to have a heart and yet a strong backbone. People come into the nursing field all the time...some like me to fulfill a lifelong goal/dream, others just for the $$ or job stability.

I think shadowing/volunteering is a great idea. It will give you some direct insight to see if nursing is for you.

Best wishes!

Sand_Dollar, BSN

1,130 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Clinical Documentation Specialist. Has 5 years experience.

I was 16 and came upon an single vehicle accident - a band bus had rolled. I jumped out and got into the thick of things, helping people and even sqeezing my way into the bus to find a guy unconscious. I wasn't the only one at the accident, however there were a bunch of people just walking around doing nothing. I could not believe it! It took a number of years and I started to learn about myself, what I would actually enjoy or be good at. I'm 40 now, homeschool my kids and realized I needed more challenges in my life to be really happy. I had been researching careers for my daughter and came across nursing, it seemed like something I would really enjoy. However it took an older friend who started MA school and asked me to do it with her to get me to take the leap. I didn't want to be an MA but I wanted my BSN. So... here I am taking my pre-reqs and loving every minute of it. I am hoping to get into ER or Trauma nursing.

KathyRN2B - my son spent 2 months in NICU. I could never work in that dept myself but those nurses were SO wonderful.


233 Posts

my mother was a nurse and could see i had the aptitude and compassion. she always encouraged me to go into nursing, because it was a stable field and it offered huge opportunities. my mother focused on occupational health and safety and became a vp in an insurance company - but was also able to go back to staff nurse, if extra money was needed in the family.

my mil and sil are also nurses, and with such encouragement, i've finally decided to take the plunge!


3 Posts

Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like job shadowing is a good way to see more of what a "day-in-the-life" is like. For now... it's back to studying microbio!!! :bugeyes:


19 Posts

I think everyone has their own reason...I didn't think about the money and the 'helping people' aspect of this profession. I guess it's just the subject that interests me. As a nurse you'll have to know alot about your body (anatomy, physiology), your beliefs, what values to you, cultures, diets.....a little bit of everything...I think i can take better care of my family...time to work is's a profession about life and living? what can be better than being a nurse?^^

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