What makes your job meaningful?


I will be appying for a CNA diploma program soon and then move on to being an RN. I want to know if it's going to be worth being a nurse. As corny as it sounds, am I really going to be able to help people? Will I be able to make a difference in someone's life? I know there are cons to this profession and I am well aware they can sometimes outnumber the pros. I just really want to help those who are in need/sick. To new nurses, current nurses, veteran nurses: what makes your job meaningful?

Kitiger, RN

1,811 Posts

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 44 years experience.

What makes my job meaningful?

Doing range of motion to loosen up those painful, tight muscles, and seeing the child fall into a restful sleep. Seeing the relief on Mom's face when she checks in and sees her son calm and relaxed.

Teaching by example how to more easily change the trach, and seeing the parents confidence grow.

Catching a preventable medication side effect, and explaining to the parents why that med is causing problems.

Suggesting a different med or treatment, and seeing the parents follow through with the doctor.

Knowing that the fact that I'm there gives the parents a chance to relax, have fun, or maybe go out together. They can be better parents when they get a chance to refresh, renew, and restore their equilibrium

Specializes in Emergency Dept. Trauma. Pediatrics. Has 6 years experience.

Honestly, knowing that in someone's scared, vulnerable state I could make them laugh, or offer them comfort, or education, compassion. That no matter all the BS I put up with, I get told over and over the difference I have made, or how they hadn't seen mom laugh in a while or what have you. That gives me meaning. Being able to touch the lives in a positive way of others truly brings me happiness and peace and I have found ways to do it outside of work as well to carry it on. These people don't realize they are helping me internally, as much as I am helping them.

Don't get me wrong, I love the adrenaline, the knowledge, and a lot of other stuff that comes along with it. But the above is what makes it meaningful.

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,250 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.


Honestly, knowing that in someone's scared, vulnerable state I could make them laugh, or offer them comfort, or education, compassion.
And my wonderful co-workers make my job meaningful.

adventure_rn, BSN

1 Article; 1,547 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

NICU specific, but....

Caring for a baby who is sick as snot one week, then the next week walking them out the door as a happy, healthy newborn.

Celebrating little 'normal baby' milestones with preemie families as their babies become more stable, like baby's first bath, first bottle, first outfit, etc.

Developing relationships with families while caring for their babies over an extended period of time.

A parent telling you that they can get a good night of sleep knowing that their baby is in good hands.

Knowing that all of your former patients are all out there in the world, playing, learning, and growing, and that you had a hand (however small) in helping them reach that point.

Every day we have the chance to make a difference. We see patients at their worst of circumstances and we do have the opportunity to make that a little better for them

Whether that is helping an addict feel like we are caring for them as a human being, a new mom who needs to feel like this overwhelming guilt will actually get better, a dementia patient who is so confused and their family who never thought they would have to consider long-term care. The family who has just lost their loved one and is just beginning the stages of grief.

Yes, every day we can make a difference in someone's life.


18 Posts

Has 12 years experience.

I recently changed jobs into the correctional system. Prior to that I worked Rural acute. I believe I have made a difference in a lot of peoples lives.....When you know your stuff and can pass on what you know, you make the differences. I have seen new moms totally exhausted and having difficulties with breastfeeding totally turn it around. I see them become empowered and believeing they can do this, with spending a few extra minutes helping them. I have made a difference to the lonely elder by tucking them in at night and giving them a goodnight kiss on the cheek, or by spending a few extra minutes and rubbing lotion onto their backs. I make a difference in caring. It's easy to tell the nurses who do not love their profession. Taking a few extra minutes even when we are run off our feet is what makes a difference. In my new role I make a difference by sharing knowledge and building a trusting therapeutic relationship with my patients. We can all make a difference, we can all be the nurse that makes a patient and their family have a positive experience under our care.

NightNerd, MSN, RN

1,129 Posts

Specializes in CMSRN, hospice. Has 9 years experience.

For me, the most meaningful part of my job is the opportunity to show kindness and compassion to those who generally don't receive it anywhere else. Many of my patients are the ones whose family and friends cannot give them anymore; the addicts, the mentally ill, the ones with no home or job or much of anything going for them. I've been on the families' end, and it makes a world of difference to know that even when you yourself can't be there for your loved one, a nurse or tech or doctor or someone will show them some warmth and keep them safe. I'm not saying it always prompts purple to make big lasting changes, and I'm not adding that I allow myself to be manipulated into doing a lot of extra stuff that will ultimately harm my patient. But to be the one who gives then a kind word, be patient when they usually wouldn't get that reaction, make sure they're safe and warm and have enough to eat and drink, keep them as pain-free as possible - that's what gives my work meaning.

People ask me a lot if I see miracles in my work. I tell them that there are a lot of small miracles. I'm not going to fix the big problems that people are admitted to the hospital with, but there is always a little something pretty much every shift that says, "I'm leaving this person better than when I found him." Look for that piece every shift, and it may get you through some really tough times.


603 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

Knowing, without a doubt (because I have been told so), that when my time on this earth is done, I will leave it having made a small but definite difference in a stranger's life. Yeah, corny, but true.