Why go nursing?

Nurses General Nursing


I am currently undertaking my masters and am interested in looking at why someone today, with all the careers around, wants to go nursing. What made you take the plung into nursing ?

I am interested in hearing from undergraduates, graduates and clinical nurses.


Carol... gosh.. good question.. here's my scoop.. after graduating with a degree in management i worked my way up in the business world from a customer service rep. to supervisor.. manager.. worked in several different industries.. made great money.. was considered a success.. blah blah blah.. but what i noticed was the more my managerial abilities were rewarded with promotions.. the LESS happy i was.. why?? because i was being moved more and more away from what i loved ..which was working with people.. (i know that's cliche.. but true none the less)

so.. after yet another promotion to special project manager for a fortune 500 company i went and asked my boss for a demotion.. hehehe.. and it was then i realized that business wasn't for me.. so.. i began to look for a new career.

.i made a list of what the perfect job for me would look like.. it went something like this 1) work directly with people 2) end the day knowing i'd contributed to the physical, mental, spiritual well being of another person (and when i wrote that down i was NOT thinking of healthcare in anyway) 3) a wide latitude of movement within the career field 4) a career where if i was unhappy in my position it wouldn't take me months or years to find another 5) mobility.. i wanted to be able to live in different parts of the country .. possibly even internationally.. 6) well respected career .. etc.. there were 4 more for a total of 10 reason but i can't think of the other 4 off the top of my head..

I then applied my perfect career list to ALL the careers i knew of.. and came up with being a doctor... nurse.. or physical therapist... doctoring didn't meet the mobility criteria or the wide latitude for movement within the career without going back to school for years and years.. so it was out.. physical therapy ended up being too boring for me.. again not a wide latitude for movement within the field.. a PT is a PT is a PT.. you may be practicing in the hospital or private.. but both relatively the same.. then i followed an OB nurse around for a day at my local hospital.. and she began to explain all the fields nurses could go into.. so i followed a homehealth nurse.. then a critical care nurse.. a public health nurse.. and i was hooked.. THIS was what i was meant to do.. i quit my job immediately.. enrolled in nursing school.. and haven't regretted my decision for a moment!!!

I will say this.. I will never make the kind of money i made in business again..ever.. as a result I had ZIP ZERO NADA support from friends or relatives initially.. honestly they all thought i was nuts.. eventually they came around.. but that was hard..

Bottomline.. being a nurse was the best decision i've ever made.. nursing as a profession is not perfect.. we NEED to stand up and be willing to take risks to bring about change.. but I love bedside nursing.. and yes I've been approached about going into management..even pressured.. but.. I'm doing what makes ME happy.. and critical care nursing makes my spirit sooooooooarrrrrrrr!!!


Good question! There are some days I ask myself that very question over and over!

Seriously though, I have always loved being around people and helping others. My Father was handicapped my whole life and belonged to a Handicapped Orginization. So I got to help others from little up.....Nursing seemed like the perfect choice although I didn't go into nursing right away.

I was a secretay/receptionist first and then went back to school for nursing. I must add I made more $$ as a secretary than I do even now as a LPN! But the secretary experience has helped quite a bit in my nursing career.

I love the interaction with my patients and also working for doctors who are more than willing to answer my questions and help me learn and grow. I think it's a very rewarding career.

Hope that helps.



I went into nursing because Nursing afforded me the opportunity to really help people. At the time Nursing was focused on patient care not how to climb the ladder to big bucks. Nursing is a great proffession. I would not want to be anything else. I am now a NP in Women's Health. I chose this because it keeps me in touch, not with paper work, but a actual living breathing person. I have been a nurse for 20 years and have never regretted my choice. I just hope Nursing continues to be people oriented and not get away from it. I am sad that the New Age nurses are drifting into fighting over "self" issues. Not patient.

After retiring from the Air Force I new I wanted to be a nurse. I love the pt contact and the pressure of being a student seems great but I know in my heart this is where I should be. Everyday after clinicals I go home feeling so good about the day. I may have only handed out meds, or bathed a pt, but the looks on their faces or the thank you they gave me made all the hassels of school worth it. Ther is no other job I want to do.

Afer 20 years in electronics and job offers everywhere, with good money, I still want to be a nurse.

Funny but it seems that the people who like nursing are the ones who already have made their money!!!

I went into nursing as a kid and hate it and would love to get out of it and go into computers.

Any young person is nuts to go into medicine or nursing today but then again, I am looking at it differently because i am the breadwinner of this family. The dam scretary I work with makes two dollars less an nour than I do.I am am sure she an isn't worried about student loans over 12 years old as i do.


That IS a good question! The state of health care today is certainly not incentive enough to entice many to join in!!

I chose nursing early on...I think I was eight. We had our grandmother living with us, and, since she was quite elderly and ill, we made a LOT of visits to the local hospital. It fascinated me. I remember just sitting and watching the nurses interact with the patients, doctors, and families. I wanted to DO that!!! I wanted to BE that!!

After actually STARTING nursing, I began to realize that there was a lot beneath the surface...the financial restraints that government and administration puts on staff, the long hours, the overtime, the MESS!! BUT...there are the rewards as well.

There is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction a nurse gets from a job well done. Working in LTC lends itself to seeing a lot of death -- my facility doesn't make discharge plans! Sitting at a bedside and helping a resident die with dignity, unafraid and comfortable....THAT is a reason to go into nursing. Helping those who cannot help themselves...it isn't something that everyone can or wants to do!

I am not saying that we are all perfect and have noble ambitions to change the world. There is decent money in the field, good options if you are wanting to travel, room for further education, field changes...the possibilities are widely varied. What I am saying is that MOST of us went into nursing to work with people, help people, and make a difference.

Would I advise anyone to go into nursing today?? Depends on how my shift went....

good question! I am a single parent of a fourteen year old daughter and have strongly discouraged her from going into nursing. I have been a nurse for eighteen years and I guess I have a severe case of burn-out. I love working with people and taking care of patients--that's the great part of nursing. What I find so difficult is explaining to my daughter why I can't come to special functions that she needs me to. I am tired of extra shifts, swing shifts, working short 95% of the time, fighting with administration, heavy work loads, poor benefits, still working every other weekend, demanding doctors etc., etc. I could go on and on. Why do I stay? I guess it's in a nurse's genes to keep plugging along hoping you will make a difference for that sweet little old lady you had as a patient today. She smiled and thanked you for just being there!!

I came to be a nurse in a "roundabout"way. My family was having a lot of financial problems, and could not pay our bills. I began to look for work in our rural community, and applied for jobs in local plants, etc. The only answer I got was from a nursing home, offering a job as a CNT, starting NOW. I worked there for about a month, then went to a skilled nursing facility, caring for both geriatric and long-term skilled patients. I began to realize that, as important as my work was, it was not enough for me. With my husband's and children's support, I went back to school, and last January earned my ADN. It has been almost a year since I began my nursing career,I can honestly say that this is the most tiring, most frustrating, but most rewarding thing I have ever done (apart from raising my family). Yes, I am overworked and underpaid. But unlike most other professions, I know without a doubt, that what I do is important, and that I have truly made a difference in someone's life. That feeling of accomplishment is something that money cannot buy.

I went into nursing after working at a variety of jobs. I was 10 years out of high school when I went to my local junior college to obtain my ADN. I've been in critical care 14+ years and I can't think of a job where I have had as much physical/mental/emotional stress but have never felt more appreciated and needed. I have never had a job I love this much. The pay isn't too bad, but if you go into nursing to make a lot of money you're going into nursing for the wrong reasons and our profession is better off without you. There was a classmate who said he would not call a doctor for increased dosages of narcotics to terminally ill cancer patients because they might become addicted. I know firsthand that there comes a time when all you can do is try to keep them as pain free as possible. He left to finish school somewhere else. I hope he has changed his ideas and if he hasn't, I hope he's not a nurse. When a patient/family hugs you and says thank you, or you've gotten your patient through a critical time and they go home, you've done something no money can buy.


Blues Forever

This was indeed a good question, and it was very interesting for me to read all of the previous responses. In my personal encounters I have come across so many diverse personal reasons of why people chose nursing as there profession, since this is a topic that I am sure most nurses have discussed with their peers.

I have been a RN for 11+ years. I was always interested in the healthcare field, and seriously considered a Medical Degree(I am so glad that circumstances directed me toward nursing instead). I, like many others, wanted to be in a profession in which I was in close contact with people, and I could make a difference. But, I was also drawn to nursing at the time because it was viewed as a respected and secure profession, in which there was immense diversity of fields. There was a nursing shortage at the time, and I was certain that whereever I went, I would be ensured a position, and in I field that I was interested in at the time.

Yet, as most long-time nurses have experienced, the climate in nursing, and healthcare in general, has been ever-changing. Most nurses never thought that there would be reductions in workforce or atrition of positions, which would lead to working short staff, and sometimes unsafe conditions for delivering patient care.

As a whole, nursing has been a rewarding profession for me, mostly because of the diversity. I have been fortunate enough to deliver patient care in different arenas, be a department manager, and perform in administrative positions. Yet, it is so disappointing to me to see the low morale that has set in for many nurses--and it is contagious. It would be dishonest for me to say that I have not considered alternatives to the nursing profession in recent years.

Most disappointing to me is the lack of cohesiveness in the nursing profession. I have found that some of the more recent nurses have gone into nursing simply for the fact it only required two-years if education to gain a respectable salary. I may be idealistic, traditional, and old-fashioned, but I believe that nursing is a profession that you go into because you CARE about people and you believe that you can help them and make a difference. I believe that this has made a significantly negative impact on nursing. In my opinion, if the nursing profession is to continue to thrive, nursing needs to take a close look at our future, and those that may affect the outcome of the nursing profession.

I apologize if I went off on a tangent, but felt this was good forum for discussion.

Specializes in Hospice and palliative care.

Why nursing? A very good question...and here's my tale:

I started college with the lofty goal of being a doctor, but chemistry and I just didn't like each other! So I switched majors and was going to go for physical therapy, but got worried about what I could do with an exercise and sport science degree if I didn't make PT school. So I decided to take a semester away from school. I got a job in an office and also enrolled in a course to become an emergency medical technician. I had been interested in "ambulance work" for a while, so I pursued that. About halfway thru the class (which I was enjoying very much), I realized I wanted to be more than an "ambulance attendant" (a very outdated term--they are now called Emergency Medical Technicians) and this led me to nursing. I (again!) switched majors and got my BS in Nursing from Penn State in 1994. I worked as a staff nurse for about a year and a half at the teaching hospital where I did most of my clinicals, and then left to be back with my family. I have been working as a staff nurse in telemetry for almost 3 years and have decided that I want to move up to the "next level", so I am in the process of applying to a nurse practitioner program.

Although it has been difficult to deal with all the changes that have occurred in recent years and their impact on the delivery of nursing care, I feel very fortunate to be in a profession which allows me to make a difference in others' lives. I realize that is very cliche, but it is so true. Having had many experiences in providing care to others, both in and out of the hospital, it is heartening when a patient or family member says "Thank you" for what you have done, and that is the reason I am still a nurse.

I would like to make it clear that I was in no way putting down those who provide prehospital care (as may have been inferred from my use of the term "ambulance attendant"). On the contrary, I believe pre-hospital providers are a vital part of the healthcare delivery system; those who have never been a part of the prehospital care delivery system can't even begin to imagine the stress that these people go through on a daily basis. They must deal with a wide range of illnesses and injuries and never know what they're going to face when they go on a call. They are unsung heroes who rarely get recognition for the work they do. (much like nurses!)

Sorry I rambled on so long...hope this helps!


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