I've had many careers, but I keep coming back to nursing. I've been in sales, pharmaceuticals, and home building,and had a great time doing all of these things, but my niche is nursing. It is far more rewarding as a person than any of these other professions, and really, the pay is comparable. I belive the last number I read is that the average American FAMILy earns around $40,000 per year, and most nurses make that all by themselves.
The only negative that I can't get around is the 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, holidays and weekends that inpatient nursing requires.
People work to buy the goods and services that are important to them, and health care is a very sought after commodity. If you add together the availability of work, steady pay, satisfaction from helping others and making a real difference to human kind (Think of the starfish story) then all in all its not a bad deal. Also, as a bedside nurse, when you are done with your shift, you're done--- no budgets to write, no personnel decisions, your time off is yours.
I am married to an executive and yes, he makes a lot more money, and yes he has more prestige in the eyes of the community, but he is also responsible 24/7 and averages a 60-70 hour work week. We have almost lost our marriage over "the job."
I do think we are cannibalizing our numbers. There are studies that show that even people who have a positive or neutral feeling towards a given topic will "catch" the negative feelings of others. This encourages current nurses to leave the profession and discourages new nurses from coming. If all the "discouraged nurses" who have left the profession came back, would we be in the middle of a nursing shortage? Probably not.
There are too many opportunities that nursing offers to be disgruntled in what you do. If you don't like bedside nursing, try a doctors office, get an advanced degree and become a practioner, go into ancellary areas such as quality improvement---And a big opportunity looming for all of you experienced nurses is teaching. The average age of nursing instructors is 54, and we have to train the next generation.
Yes, this will require more education and certifications, but that's real life. A very high percentage of these young people you see making money in business have MBA's, and I would be surprised if 60% of nurses have BS degrees.
It's up to you to like the life you live or choose the life you like.