Just because you hear people complaining about the pay doesn't mean they don't like being a nurse. I think at times its a love-hate relationship:
I love my job. I had an hour long conversation with my best friend today (who I've known since I was 10) who is considering nursing school answering her questions, encouraging her and pointing out all the great things about nursing. I LOVE what I do. I was meant to be a nurse. I go to work and do something I'm good at that I enjoy. I walk away at the end of the day exhausted, practically unable to put a coherent thought or sentence together, but it never fails, every day, after an hour or so or rest a feeling of fulfillment comes over me because I know that I made a difference that day, however small, that there was purpose and meaning to what I spent my day doing. And every now and again I'll see, hear, or read something about a colleague who has touched someone and my eyes fill with tears because I am truly touched and overcome with pride to be a part of this profession, and I realize all over again that I finally have done something REALLY good with my life.
Now if someone had mentioned all of those things to me on Friday when I had the day from hell, running like crazy and dealing with an obnoxious, condescending, rude family I would have told them where to stick it. And after the family member spent 15 minutes being a complete jerk to me, going on and on and on about how he was right, and we were idiots and how I just didn't know what I was talking about, I thought to myself "I got paid about $6 for that" (especially considering it was that family that was putting me behind.. I dreaded going into the room because I knew I'd just lose more time) And at the middle of the day when I took a quick break and cried while I was in the cafeteria grabbing a soda, I thought, "All of this for $120. All of this craziness this morning only made me $120 so far"
I love my job, but for the amount of effort, stress, emotion and time I invest in it, I'm underpaid.