Is Nursing Still a Good Profession?

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by RebeccaB RN BSN RebeccaB RN BSN (New)

Specializes in Case Management, Research, Med/Surg.

Is nursing still a good profession? Yes! Well...maybe? The thing about nursing is that it encompasses such a wide variety of work. I know a lot of nurses are leaving the field because of burn out. However, I would encourage them to contact a career advisor and to remember all the tears it took to get the license and degree before leaving for another field. There are some amazing opportunities in nursing that might take more effort to find but are worth the work.

Are you thinking about leaving the nursing profession?

Is Nursing Still a Good Profession?

In the Beginning

When I was growing up we had dinner together every night.  There are four of us kids, so six people sat around the dinner table.  One thing I remember my mom saying many, many times is that she did not care what we did but that we must go to college.  So I went to college, met the love of my life, and got a degree.  I loved every minute of that experience.  I loved the school, I loved living in a home with my best friends, and most of all I loved having my boyfriend visit every weekend.

Then I graduated with a degree, which will always be an advantage in the job market, but I still had no idea what I wanted to do for work.  And I started to question...how was I ever going to be able to retire?  Afford a house? Pay off a car?  So I started to research careers.  I asked my friends who had graduated around the same time I did about their careers.  I interviewed them and found out what they liked and did not like about their work.  And then I narrowed in on nursing.  The more research I did, the more it seemed like a fantastic idea!  You could make a good living, have job security, and do this all while helping people.  Best of all, I already had a ton of prerequisites since my first degree was in the science field.  

And Just Like That, I Was a Nurse

I decided to get my CNA and work in the hospital while going to nursing school.  After too many tears I graduated and continued to work in the same hospital.  I learned and learned and learned...  until I got burned out...  until I worked so many shifts, and did not feel like I enjoyed what I was doing anymore. 

Burnout

I hesitate to say this but most of the people on my floor, the dreaded med-surg floor, seemed to work there less than a year before moving on.  This is terrible for nurses!  I saw so many who went to school, had never worked in another field, and then decided there had to be something better than nursing out there.  If you are also burned out there is something different than bedside nursing out there, do not give up.  This is the primary reason why I say that nursing is still a great career choice.  

The Light

I decided I had enough and I wanted to see what else nursing had to offer.  I went to work in a research clinic, did a little home health, and now I work as a case manager.  I feel like this is the most amazing and wonderful field of nursing I could work in.  But you know what?  I have talked to many of my other nurse friends, tell them what I do, and they say, “Oh no, I could never, that sounds horrible!”  But that’s the great thing about nursing!  There are so many areas that you can work in.  Do you like fast-paced?  Go to the ED!  Do you like individual patient care and making your own schedule?  Go to home health nursing!  Do you get sick of the same work environment and want to travel?  Get a job as a travel nurse!  Are you burned out on patient care? You can be a utilization review nurse!  Or, like me, you may not function well in high-pressure areas like the hospital but still want to make a difference in other’s lives.  That’s why case management works for me. 

I realized I really do not do well in a high-stakes environment.  I don’t like emergencies at all, and I worry and worry and worry about people way too much. But that’s okay, I can work at an office-style job and still be a nurse.  And now I get to focus mainly on preventative care.  I get to ensure people are going to their doctor’s appointments, I get to find community resources, and I help make sure all areas of their health are being taken care of, not just the acute need. 

What About You?

I wanted to write this article as I see so many nurses get burned out, disliking their jobs, and that not only harms us it also harms the patient.  So please, research and network.  There are so many areas of nursing and I truly feel like there is a niche for everyone.  Most of all, I love that if I want to do something totally different in the future I don’t have to start from scratch.  I can still use my knowledge, skills, and abilities at my next nursing job. 

What do you think?  Are you happy in the field of nursing where you currently work?

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17 Comment(s)

Julie

Specializes in Sm Bus Mgmt, Operations, Planning, HR, Coaching. Has 40 years experience. 2 Articles; 135 Posts

Great perspective!

walkingon

walkingon, CNA, LPN

Specializes in LTC, Assisted Living, Surgical Clinic. Has 11 years experience. 108 Posts

I’m no longer happy at my job in AL memory care and haven’t been for awhile but not wanting to leave nursing because there are so many other opportunities out there.  I’m not a young woman, though, and only have nursing home experience. Not sure what route to go.  Only prerequisite is I have to have healthcare insurance.  Just want out of the nursing home and away from bedside, been there 10 years.  Any suggestions for this LPN?  

Guest 1152923

Guest 1152923

301 Posts

Agree and disagree!  As a career nurse of almost thirty years (both of my parents are nurses also), I agree that nursing provides steady employment and many opportunities.  That being said, I can’t in good conscience recommend it as a career choice.  Consider CPA, engineers, IT analysts...; same approximate length of educational preparedness but much better working hours (no midnights, holidays, 3 AM call ins), no potential infectious body fluid exposure, no one dies based upon your actions/inaction.  Then there’s the matter of compensation-nurse’s salaries are totally out of step with the degree of liability inherent in nursing.  Just my opinion of course

Mzzeclipse

Specializes in ICU. Has 9 years experience. 1 Post

You have an amazing history in your nursing career!

Respiratory School

I went to school  for Respiratory Care back in 1989-1991, then started a full time job at our County hospital in May of 1991. I loved what I did, despite being mistreated at times by some staff and some patients. I kept that smile on my face, even at times when it was just too much to bear.

Then came 2009 and I was handed a very diverse assignment: 5 ventilated patients at the end of ICU, 2 ventilated patients and one open heart pending on a vent in the Cardiovascular ICU, and one sole pediatric patient in the Pediatric ICU that needed Albuterol treatments every two hours. This seemed like too much, but I did it, again, with that darn smile on my face. Then I was approached by three of my closest friends. They asked me the question I never knew I'd be asked, "Do you want to join us? We're going to apply for nursing school!"

Nursing School

Well, first of all I didn't know I would be required to take thirteen prerequisite classes to enter Nursing school for a Bachelor's degree in Nursing. I just kept a paper with all the classes listed and crossed them off as I finished them, always working towards an "A" so I could rank faster and better whenever time came for me to apply to Nursing school. I finally finished all my classes and ranked in March of 2012, five months before the first semester started in Nursing school!

Fast forward past graduation, after many arduous days and nights in school to receive my degree,the time I put in by working full time and going to school full time paid off.. I interviewed in the intensive care unit where I already worked and got hired. I started the month after graduation.

Preceptorship

Believe it or not, my time in preceptorship didn't kill me. I started on my own after a year of that. Yes, a year, that's what they required at the time, now it's eight months (I know, that is way more time than the standard three months but safer is better). I worked three years in the Trauma ICU, then they opened Neuroscience ICU a floor above us! I moved there immediately.

Neuro ICU becomes Covid ICU

I loved my team, the type of patients, my management, and yes, the doctors. The doctors were so unlike the Trauma/Surgical ICU team, these guys actually respected us and taught us! Plus they used Nurse Practitioners who would save us every single day when the night shift residents ignored us. The culture was so wonderful, then Covid hit. Our unit became the Covid ICU. That was the beginning of the end.

I worked Covid ICU twice before my Endocrinologist sent a letter saying she did not want me up there. Thinking about it, you were safer up there since they have the appropriate PPE. Trauma ICU, where those of us that didn't work Covid ICU were normally placed to work, had their lion's share of the "Surprise, your patient that was supposedly negative for Covid, turns out was actually positive." While our PPE was a surgical mask...not the N95. Most of us bought N95's, and I personally used mine daily, only taking it off to eat.

Infection

One shift, I was so busy that I got to eat at 5:45pm (shift ended at 7pm). I thought to myself, I better eat light since my husband, who is retired, will be making us dinner and will be hurt if I don't eat it. I saw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I took it out of the baggie it was in and reached for a cup into which I was going to pour my milk. When I sat back down, I forgot where I was, apparently how old I was as well. I saw a smear of peanut butter and jelly on the uncleaned table (I forgot to wipe my place down before eating on it)and I scooped it up on my finger and licked it...The feeling of dread came over me. I know they say Covid enters the respiratory tract, and that mucus membranes should be protected to avoid infection. Well, I am 100% certain I got it from that unfortunate lick.

Three days later, I spiked a fever, 101.9 but my saturation was still 94%, so I didn't do anything about it. That night I spiked at 102.8, and my saturation was 92%, but since I'm asthmatic, again, I didn't really worry too much, but I was sure I had Covid. I called my manager, and she said to sit tight until Monday if I could and get tested that morning. Tuesday after I had tested I got that dreaded phone call. By Wednesday, I spiked at 102. 5, and my saturation was 85%...off to the hospital, where I spent a total of 23 days: 7 of those in Covid ICU and another 7 sharing a room with my husband who couldn't breathe at home so we sent EMS for him and he was hospitalized and placed on high flow oxygen.

Early Retirement

Believe it or not, I didn't really burn out. My hubby made me realize that I was endangering both him and myself by working at my home away from home. Fortunately, they have the rule of 75 here. Your age plus your time worked (served as some put it). I'm 52 and I had been there 29 years. Now I'm retired. Happily some days, and some days not so much since I remember how it used to be. People have left in droves since I left. Younger healthcare workers following the places that pay you what you actually deserve in other states.

Alternative Paths

I too am looking for alternative career paths in Nursing. I think I found one with Content writing, though I don't know how to start. I won't be going back to the hospital, those days are gone.

Sorry for the extremely long response, I thought you should know the background story ?

dareese, MSN, RN

Specializes in Health Writer, School Nurse, Nurse Practitioner. Has 19 years experience. 4 Articles; 32 Posts

I enjoyed Home Health Nursing very much.  In fact, in my 37 years as a nurse, I only worked for 4 years as a hospital nurse.  I have a very diverse nursing background but found all kinds of great opportunities as a nurse in the outpatient area.  I am now a nurse health content writer and am enjoying the FREEDOM of making my own schedule very much.  Thanks for the article.

OldEMTNurse, LPN, EMT-I

Specializes in LTC. Has 25 years experience. 51 Posts

I love your article. And although I got too ill to continue on with nursing, it has always been my desire. I was an EMT for 18 years so I was considering being an ER nurse while I was still in school. I also considered applying as an OR nurse because God made our bodies so perfectly with every site supporting others. For example, just think about the amazing liver. It provides several services to support other parts of our bodies. FASCINATING!?.

RebeccaB RN BSN

Specializes in Case Management, Research, Med/Surg. 1 Article; 4 Posts

On 5/20/2021 at 5:02 PM, walkingon said:

I’m no longer happy at my job in AL memory care and haven’t been for awhile but not wanting to leave nursing because there are so many other opportunities out there.  I’m not a young woman, though, and only have nursing home experience. Not sure what route to go.  Only prerequisite is I have to have healthcare insurance.  Just want out of the nursing home and away from bedside, been there 10 years.  Any suggestions for this LPN?  

It sounds like you have great experience and I definitely understand being unhappy in your job.  Clinical research actually has some pretty interesting jobs and the clinic I worked at hired nurses that had their RN or LPN and there wasn’t much distinction between the roles.  A lot of times we were screening patients for studies and it was pretty much like doing an admission in the hospital: collecting medical history, medications, etc.  

RebeccaB RN BSN

Specializes in Case Management, Research, Med/Surg. 1 Article; 4 Posts

23 hours ago, Mzzeclipse said:

You have an amazing history in your nursing career!

Respiratory School

I went to school  for Respiratory Care back in 1989-1991, then started a full time job at our County hospital in May of 1991. I loved what I did, despite being mistreated at times by some staff and some patients. I kept that smile on my face, even at times when it was just too much to bear.

Then came 2009 and I was handed a very diverse assignment: 5 ventilated patients at the end of ICU, 2 ventilated patients and one open heart pending on a vent in the Cardiovascular ICU, and one sole pediatric patient in the Pediatric ICU that needed Albuterol treatments every two hours. This seemed like too much, but I did it, again, with that darn smile on my face. Then I was approached by three of my closest friends. They asked me the question I never knew I'd be asked, "Do you want to join us? We're going to apply for nursing school!"

Nursing School

Well, first of all I didn't know I would be required to take thirteen prerequisite classes to enter Nursing school for a Bachelor's degree in Nursing. I just kept a paper with all the classes listed and crossed them off as I finished them, always working towards an "A" so I could rank faster and better whenever time came for me to apply to Nursing school. I finally finished all my classes and ranked in March of 2012, five months before the first semester started in Nursing school!

Fast forward past graduation, after many arduous days and nights in school to receive my degree,the time I put in by working full time and going to school full time paid off.. I interviewed in the intensive care unit where I already worked and got hired. I started the month after graduation.

Preceptorship

Believe it or not, my time in preceptorship didn't kill me. I started on my own after a year of that. Yes, a year, that's what they required at the time, now it's eight months (I know, that is way more time than the standard three months but safer is better). I worked three years in the Trauma ICU, then they opened Neuroscience ICU a floor above us! I moved there immediately.

Neuro ICU becomes Covid ICU

I loved my team, the type of patients, my management, and yes, the doctors. The doctors were so unlike the Trauma/Surgical ICU team, these guys actually respected us and taught us! Plus they used Nurse Practitioners who would save us every single day when the night shift residents ignored us. The culture was so wonderful, then Covid hit. Our unit became the Covid ICU. That was the beginning of the end.

I worked Covid ICU twice before my Endocrinologist sent a letter saying she did not want me up there. Thinking about it, you were safer up there since they have the appropriate PPE. Trauma ICU, where those of us that didn't work Covid ICU were normally placed to work, had their lion's share of the "Surprise, your patient that was supposedly negative for Covid, turns out was actually positive." While our PPE was a surgical mask...not the N95. Most of us bought N95's, and I personally used mine daily, only taking it off to eat.

Infection

One shift, I was so busy that I got to eat at 5:45pm (shift ended at 7pm). I thought to myself, I better eat light since my husband, who is retired, will be making us dinner and will be hurt if I don't eat it. I saw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I took it out of the baggie it was in and reached for a cup into which I was going to pour my milk. When I sat back down, I forgot where I was, apparently how old I was as well. I saw a smear of peanut butter and jelly on the uncleaned table (I forgot to wipe my place down before eating on it)and I scooped it up on my finger and licked it...The feeling of dread came over me. I know they say Covid enters the respiratory tract, and that mucus membranes should be protected to avoid infection. Well, I am 100% certain I got it from that unfortunate lick.

Three days later, I spiked a fever, 101.9 but my saturation was still 94%, so I didn't do anything about it. That night I spiked at 102.8, and my saturation was 92%, but since I'm asthmatic, again, I didn't really worry too much, but I was sure I had Covid. I called my manager, and she said to sit tight until Monday if I could and get tested that morning. Tuesday after I had tested I got that dreaded phone call. By Wednesday, I spiked at 102. 5, and my saturation was 85%...off to the hospital, where I spent a total of 23 days: 7 of those in Covid ICU and another 7 sharing a room with my husband who couldn't breathe at home so we sent EMS for him and he was hospitalized and placed on high flow oxygen.

Early Retirement

Believe it or not, I didn't really burn out. My hubby made me realize that I was endangering both him and myself by working at my home away from home. Fortunately, they have the rule of 75 here. Your age plus your time worked (served as some put it). I'm 52 and I had been there 29 years. Now I'm retired. Happily some days, and some days not so much since I remember how it used to be. People have left in droves since I left. Younger healthcare workers following the places that pay you what you actually deserve in other states.

Alternative Paths

I too am looking for alternative career paths in Nursing. I think I found one with Content writing, though I don't know how to start. I won't be going back to the hospital, those days are gone.

Sorry for the extremely long response, I thought you should know the background story ?

Wow! What an incredible story! I loved reading about your history and your nursing career.  I am trying my hand at content writing as well.  There seems to be a lot of opportunity in it as well as the ability to take on as much work as you want.  So far I’ve found Elizabeth Hanes and the Savvy Scribe to be super helpful.  They both have websites and the Savvy Scribe has a podcast as well.  I’ve also been listening to the podcast from The Stay at Home Nurse who started her own business by writing a book about how to get your case management certification.  This is actually the first thing I’ve written and I think it will be a bit before I’ll be able to figure how how to monetize my work.  Have you been able to do much research on content writing?  

martymoose, BSN, RN

Specializes in PCCN. Has 19 years experience. 1,944 Posts

Absolutely not happy where I work . They changed our ratios from 4 pts on days to 7 . It's just too much. Cardiac stepdown .

I've never wanted to quit a job so bad

OldEMTNurse, LPN, EMT-I

Specializes in LTC. Has 25 years experience. 51 Posts

?I'm so sorry this happed to you.

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 2,213 Posts

7 hours ago, martymoose said:

Absolutely not happy where I work . They changed our ratios from 4 pts on days to 7 . It's just too much. Cardiac stepdown

That absolutely sounds horrible, I'm sorry to read that. 

I know it was going around that our nursing leadership said "current best practice guidelines indicate six patients on a day shift assignment is appropriate", however, no references provided. However, whenever we come up with reference papers about interventions, equipment or ideas for staffing (which can be very hard to come by), we're told the research is not sufficient. I think they just make stuff up for their convenience.