Should I pursue a career as a registered nurse or elementary teacher?


I'm a rising sophomore in college and I'm still debating on what I want to do with my life. After considering many different career paths, my final choices are either a registered nurse or elementary school teacher.

I've shadowed an elementary teacher and I liked the learning environment and liked to be around the children. I haven't had the opportunity to shadow a nurse yet, but I've been at the hospital and have been able to observe nurses for several hours (from afar).

I've been told that elementary school teachers often go into the career thinking that it will be fun with long vacations. However, the reality is that teachers work many hours after school and have a lot of stress trying to keep up with the school standards/curriculum. I heard it is EXTREMELY stressful and have been warned about it. Although I love being around children and am fairly organized and creative.. I don't know that I have a burning passion for teaching. However, I still like the idea of working in a classroom and doing other teacher-related duties. I'm not sure if I can do it for the rest of my life... I like science classes and feel that the elementary education route will be not as stimulating (although it will still require effort!)

Last week, a family member was admitted to the hospital and I was able to see nurses working in both the ER and outpatient center. I imagined myself in their shoes and started to reconsider the nursing career. The reasons that stop me from pursuing this path is that I don't think I'll be able to handle the 12 hour shift, my introverted personality, as well as many forums on here from nurses who completely regret their decision and say that nursing is not what it seems and is definitely not meant for anyone.

So..any nurses or teachers..I'll really appreciate any/all feedback!

(Location I hope to work in - Northern Virginia)

Also- how does nursing salary work? Does it increase by a dollar (per hour) each year?

Thank you!

Has 33 years experience.

I would most likely guarantee that you would make more as a nurse than as a teacher. Nurses salaries are usually hourly pay and depend on the geographical area where you work. Some acute care centers give bonus pay for a short-term commitment, usually we get differential for shifts that are outside the normal day hours, some facilities give extra for weekend shifts. Usually acute care centers(hospitals) pay better than Long Term Care(Nursing Home), there are also outpatient centers that may use new graduate nurses. Nurses work all year where as teachers are usually off during the summer months. Nurses typically work most holidays and there are no monthly holidays that are given for nurses. Teachers usually have off all the national and major holidays off. Nurses have obligated weekend shifts they have to work. Teachers donot. Nurses typically do not have additional work to bring home whereas teachers usually do. If you truly want to be around children, you could also think about Pediatric Nursing which specializes in the care of children. If you choose nursing, try to get as much science in high school that you can, take a chemistry and try to take as much math as you can. There are some high schools that are associated with Vocational Technical Schools that may have a LPN(Licensed Practical Nurse) program. That would get you started in the nursing field. Good Luck!!

If it's as simple a question as nurse vs. teacher, I would go with nurse. There are so many different fields of nursing you can go into. You can even teach as a nurse, but you can't nurse as a teacher. Plus--coming from a fellow introvert--teaching would be mentally exhausting. I would much rather have to interact with patients than stand in front of a group and be expected to talk and talk and talk and explain things the entire day.


3,726 Posts

I'm new to this forum but I've read more pages of either unhappy nurses or those who can't find a job than anything else. Why not go into OT and specialize in peds? OT's are very sought after in home care (usually adult population) and well paid. No lousy hours either.

Specializes in mom/baby, EFM, student CNM, cardiac/tele. Has 3 years experience.

I would say the stress of being a teacher and having to keep up with academic standards do not come close to the stress of having to keep 4-6 patients alive for 12 hours :)


4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

I would say that online message boards in general allow people to vent over things with which they are unhappy in their jobs, lives. So a message board devoted to nurses will, naturally, have more posts about unhappy situations than the opposite. After all, people in general don't rattle on about how HAPPY they are, asking for advice on how to stay happy.....right?

I'd imagine a message forum devoted to teachers would produce much of the same....while people are happy and unhappy in each profession, this kind of website tends to draw us out to vent about the bad stuff, but not cheer our 'good stuff'! :)


3,413 Posts

Has 38 years experience. are young, you can think about doing both. You can get a teaching degree and teach, then see how you like it. You can always go back to school after a few years, even part time, and work towards a nursing degree.

I would talk to a college counselor, maybe you can take some of the "hard" sciences now that will be credited towards both degrees. But try to get an idea of the cut off date for these classes. Will a nursing program accept a chemistry class you took 5 years ago?