Oh my goodness, that's one loaded question, but a very good one. I work in a small hospital in a small town. As a result, we tend to get the same patients on many return visits. Being such a small town, you also see them outside the hospital in grocery stores, church, and even some at family get-togethers. It's very easy to get attached to the people you see so often. The good part of that is, you know most aspects of that persons life and it makes it easier to treat and understand them when they are sick. On the downside of that, it breaks your heart to watch them fade away. And when they die, it crushes you inside. I find that to be the hardest part of my job. On the same small town note comes the ugly part. So many people outside the health care field do not inderstand HIPPA. A small town is like a big family. Most of us, at the very least, know each other and talk at social occasions. People always seem to ask "How's ole' so-n-so doing? I heard they were in the hospital again." or "What's really going on with my cousin? Her husband won't tell me anything." It always seems to cause hard feelings when all you can tell them is that you can't tell them anything. They just don't seem to understand that you can lose your license for the least little infraction of discretion.
One of the most rewarding aspects of nursing is actually making a difference in someones life. Yes, you really do make a difference. There is always gonna be that one patient that is all alone in the world. It's usually an elderly person with no family whose spouse died long ago or a demented patient whose children all live 3 states away. Those are the ones that get the majority of my time. You'd be suprised at how much a sweet smile, gentle touch, or a few kind words can mean to a person who has no one. Even when they cannot speak, the look of gratitude on their face is the best reward a nurse can get.
I have had many jobs before I chose to pursue a nursing career about 6 years ago. Not one of theose jobs can compare to the satisfaction I get from nursing. Without question, I wouldn't change a thing.