The Top 10 Things I Loved About Nursing

As a late-middle-aged RN who is newly retired from clinical nursing, I'd like to share a retrospective on a long and fruitful career that brought me a fair share of heartache, but also great joys. These are the things I loved about nursing. I hope that perhaps you'll see something of yourself in the paragraphs that follow and appreciate what your profession has given you. Nurses Rock Article

As a nurse who has left the clinical side of the profession, I've had a little time recently to ponder both the good and bad aspects of the vocation I chose long ago. And although it got to be too much for me in the end, there was far more positive than negative. Here are the things I used to love about nursing:

10 ) I very much enjoyed working in the most comfortable clothing on the planet.

What other field lets you work in what are basically pajamas with lots of pockets? And sneakers?

9 ) Variety!

There are so many kinds of nursing that it would take several lifetimes to try them all. Just in my own career, I've worked LTC, med/surg, ICU, mother-baby, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. I've been a CNA, charge nurse, floor nurse, care manager, and director of nursing, and now I'm a long-term care surveyor. What else can you do with a two-year degree that offers so many different opportunities?

8 ) The chance to meet many types of people and see so many different situations.

I've cared for politicians, doctors, local celebrities, priests, and hospital CEOs. I've also cared for people at the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum and found their stories just as compelling. I've seen lives begin, and I've seen many more of them end. I've known 100-year-olds who survived massive strokes and were still living full lives, and I've known 40-year-olds who gave up and died within weeks of receiving a cancer diagnosis.

7 ) A decent standard of living.

Although wages have flattened out quite a bit in the past ten years or so, nursing still pays better than a lot of professions that require more education. I do believe that the BSN will eventually be the entry point for nurses; however, for some of us who were either super ambitious or simply really lucky, it's been possible to go pretty much anywhere and do anything we wanted with our ADNs.

6 ) OK, I'll admit it: I really did enjoy taking care of people and making them feel better.

When I was young, I cared for my grandmother who had been a nurse during World War I, and I remember charting her medications and giving report to the doctor who came around to visit (yes, I'm old enough to recall when they made house calls). I carried those memories all the way through my nursing career, and nothing pleased me more than solving a patient's problem and being able to say, "Everything is all right. I fixed it."

5 ) Interesting co-workers.

Nurses come in all sizes, colors, nationalities, and philosophies of life, and I've learned something from each and every one I've encountered.....even if it was only the way I DIDN'T want to work or live.

4 ) Learning about so many fascinating diseases and conditions.

In school, I was the only one in my entire class who got to see a real, live case of necrotizing fasciitis as it progressed during my clinicals. And thanks to the curiosity ingrained in me during my days as a student, I've also become something of an expert on the chronic health issues which affect me, as well as several of the people I'm close to. I can't imagine dealing with these conditions without the knowledge base I have as a nurse.

3 ) Nursing has also given me some much-needed patience.

As a child and even well into adulthood, I had a quick temper and a tendency to go off like a hand grenade at almost any provocation; now, when confused, combative, potty-mouthed Martha asks me for the tenth time in five minutes where the (rhymes with duck) she's supposed to go, I'm not even tempted to tell her.

2 ) Nurses are still the most-trusted professionals in America.

Need I say more?

1 ) To paraphrase the old Peace Corps ad: Nursing is the toughest job you'll ever love.

And I did love it, even though I sometimes went home dragging my aching bones like an old tired dog and swearing I wasn't going back. If life events and illness hadn't intervened to make it necessary for me to change course, I'd probably have stayed at or near the bedside until retirement age. Still, as I look back on almost two decades in healthcare, I'm satisfied that I made the right decision to get out before I had nothing left to give.

But you see, it's like this: you spend a good piece of your life holding the lives of patients in your heart and hands...and when you leave, you discover that it was really the other way around all the time.

This sounds like me. I loved nursing. I retired due to health issues, first encephalitis then pancreatic cancer. It was the first time I had been on the other side of the bed so to speak. I do miss nursing. I would not feel comfortable going back though due to so many changes in the last couple of years and to some short term memory loss due to the encephalitis. In Feb. 2014, I will be cancer free for 2 years. I have had a blessed life. First with nursing, then the remarkable recovery I've had with my illness.

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired.

Tomorrow is my last day after 41 years and I've never regretted my choice. It's been so gratifying - intellectually, spiritually and even financially (ended up as CRNA). And I'm grateful that I got to work in the best of times before it became became business-centric. We are soldiers against the de-humanizing of health care. It was hard at the end when production pressures defined the tenor of our day. But being able to get a individuals through their surguries was my blessing.

Specializes in Med Surg, Parish Nurse, Hospice.

I agreed with your thoughts. I actually worked with someone that had necrotizing fasciitis. It was very scary time for her and for us as we took care of her. I will agree that Nurses are very interesting group. Having been a nurse for 36 yrs, I worked for many years with the same people. We felt like family and have been having yearly reunions. Nursing has always been hard work, but to me the last few years have really changed and not for the best. I have taken a non hands on job and am much happier than I have been for a while.

Specializes in Psychiatry.

Dear VivaLasViejas,Thanks for lifting up the sagging morale of some of us. I wish you the best in your post-nursing, and nascent retirement phase. You have earned it. I vividly recall reading your post about your trials & tribulations in your personal life. Una abrazo.

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Many thanks to all of you who have commented. I'm so glad when something I write about touches a life.:)

It amazes me how fast nursing is changing. I hope to retire within the next 5 yrs and I can't imagine how I will feel. Thinking about volunteering in a nursing home as the elderly has always been my interest. Thank you for your top 10 and best of luck to you. thanks for sharing.

Specializes in Med surge, ob,pediatrics,GYN,dialysis,ER.

Epic. Thank you so much for this positive contribution:)

This was such a great post...thank you OP! I am starting an ADN program in Feb and I couldn't be happier or more excited :)

"Still, as I look back on almost two decades in healthcare, I'm satisfied that I made the right decision to get out before I had nothing left to give."

I can relate to this so much. There is a time and purpose for everything under heaven... Congrats on such an engaging and articulate piece!

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Thank you.

I think we've all met them: nurses who are so burned-out that the casual observer can't even imagine why they continue in the field if they hate it so much. Their presence in the healthcare environment does nothing for the image of nursing, and unfortunately their behaviors are known to drive newer nurses right out of the profession.....something we can ill afford with the huge Baby Boom generation heading into its later years.

I didn't want to be one of them.

Needless to say, I'm very grateful for the opportunity to use my experience in the field for a good purpose. I'm finding out fairly quickly that my skill set doesn't necessarily transfer to my new position, but in the long run I'll be able to draw from my nursing knowledge when I need help to make a good decision regarding care. :)

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma.

Awesome....just an awesome post! :yes:

You chose the top ten aspects that STILL matter in Nursing, despite these challenges that we currently have, there is no other career for me that has been a perfect fit.

I have been able to learn and create everyday, live with and through my peers and my patients; when I became a patient almost 6 years ago, it certainly made me an even better nurse-perhaps what helped me survive was because I AM a nurse. Most of my sanity and perspective keep me intact because of being a NURSE. :nurse:

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma.
Nice to read something positive for a change!

Hey, you can join in too...this is the Nurse's Rock forum....rock star!