Why do you want to be a nurse? Students share their sentiments
By The College of St. Scholastica | @StScholastica | Apr 27, 2015
Let's face it—not everyone is cut out to be a nurse. But in the midst of it all, babies are born, lives are saved and life-long bonds are even formed between the medical staff and their patients. This rewarding career path is as multifaceted as it is essential to the medical field.
And what's better? We need nurses now more than ever!
Baby boomers are aging and the need for healthcare professionals is skyrocketing as a result, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Nursing schools across the U.S. are struggling to expand at the rates necessary to meet this increasing demand.
The numbers reflect this widening gap. There were more than 750,000 job postings for nurses across the spectrum of specialties in the past year, according to Burning-Glass.com.* The job prospects for registered nurses (RNs) alone are expected to grow at a rate of 19 percent by 2022, much faster than the average vocation.
The field needs qualified nursing hopefuls to step up to the plate. But sometimes a bright job outlook isn't enough to seal the deal for the medical professionals of our future.
That is why we spoke to a handful of nursing graduate students and asked them, "Why do you want to be a nurse?" They identified four distinct reasons why pursuing a career in nursing is worth it.
4 Reasons you should become a nurse
1. It's an exciting, fast-paced profession
The shifts may get long and certain aspects of the job will inevitably become routine, but the life of a nurse is never boring. Whether you're working out of a hospital, a private practice or a palliative care center, you have to be ready to respond to just about anything at a moment's notice.
"I need to be in a fast-paced work environment," says Danielle Mella. "In nursing, every day is different, so there's always something new to figure out. Working as a clinician keeps me on my toes."
From quirky patients to split-second decisions, rest assured that no two days will be alike when you're working as a nurse. This makes nursing a great choice if you're the type who thrives under pressure and craves excitement.
2. It gives you the opportunity to positively impact your patients & community
"I want to be a nurse because I really want to help people through some of their most vulnerable moments," explains Meagan Thompson.
All nurses have at least one thing in common—they want to help people. Not only do they play the role of caretaker for their patients, but in some circumstances, they can also be a friend, a confidante and a trusted adviser. It takes a special kind of person to fill all of those roles the way nurses do.
"Ever since I was a little girl, my empathetic heart took over. When I saw a friend crying, I was the first to go over and comfort him or her," says Brie Peters. After traveling to Guatemala as a young adult to assist an RN in administering medical treatment to underserved villagers, her childhood penchant for helping others transformed into a career dream.
The medical care administered by nurses isn't just a temporary fix—it is also about teaching people afflicted by injury or illness to care for themselves as they move forward. "Empowering others to take control over their health and quality of life will be truly fulfilling," says Elana Goldsmith.
3. It offers one-of-a-kind flexibility
There is a certain flexibility that comes with the profession of nursing—one that can often lead to a longer, more sustainable career. In fact, there are more than 100 different specialties in the world of nursing. These jobs include everything from critical care nurse to forensic nurse to nurse anesthetist.
"There is so much flexibility in terms of the areas that a nurse can specialize in," Mella explains. "It truly makes for a career that will last a lifetime!"
Nurses relish this opportunity to locate the perfect specialty through which to utilize their specific strengths. This plethora of positions means it won't be hard to find your perfect fit.
4. You can experience the benefits of a holistic approach to medicine
"One of the aspects I enjoy most is the holistic approach of nursing care. We are taught not to focus on the specific state of a disease, but rather the patient's response to the disease or illness," says Kara Somora.
She explains that the most effective method of patient care includes not only meeting their physical needs, but meeting their emotional, social and spiritual needs as well. "If any of these components are neglected, a person can't be their healthiest self," Somora says.
Using a holistic approach to medical care allows nurses to treat "the whole person" while also benefitting the nurses themselves—often preventing professional burnout among medical teams.
Join this rewarding career path
Americans consider nursing to be the most trusted, ethically-sound profession, according to a 2014 poll from Gallup. But, as our panel of nursing graduate students revealed, there is a lot more to this multifaceted career path than what is portrayed on TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice."
"I believe that patients' willingness to place their lives in the hands of those assigned to care for them demonstrates the ultimate act of trust," Peters says. "It is a great honor and responsibility."
From the flexible job opportunities to the profound community impact nurses can make, this career path has the potential to reap a lifetime of rewards.
If you can identify with these reasons for pursuing a career in nursing, learn more about 9 of the different nursing jobs that are in demand now!
The College of St. Scholastica
The College of St. Scholastica is an independent private Catholic Benedictine college with locations across Minnesota, in addition to many high-quality programs available online and through convenient evening and weekend formats. Since 1912, St. Scholastica has been preparing students for a life of purpose and economic gain by engaging students in the love of learning and active citizenship in the world. Our mission is to provide intellectual and moral preparation for responsible living and meaningful work.
There’s no shortage of articles and blog posts out there encouraging people to pursue a nursing career. This content often shines a spotlight on earning potential, career stability, promising job opportunities and killer benefits packages.
But some people make career decisions for emotional and circumstantial reasons as well as the cold hard facts. The nursing field employs a wide variety of people with different priorities, perspectives and preferences. One nurse’s motivation for putting on scrubs may be completely different than another’s.
So why choose nursing? We enlisted five experts in the field to reveal the reasons they picked this profession and reminisce on the moment they knew it was their calling. Get a taste of the unique journeys that led these nurses to the career they love.
I chose nursing because …
1. I saw the need for Hispanic nurses in my community
Marisela Cigliuti was working as a volunteer translator when she observed the extreme difficulty caused by a language barrier. She did some research into translation in healthcare and learned that many providers resort to untrained individuals who speak the right languages and are nearby when a translator is needed.
“This compromises a patient’s privacy and could increase the chance of medical errors,” Cigliuti explains. This is the reason she decided to go back to school to earn her nursing degree. She says she plans to continue reducing healthcare barriers in underserved communities. She also created a company called Telenurse to engage nurses and integrate community services for patients.
2. I was out of work and vowed to never face that situation again
Mark Allred had been out of work for more than a year. He worked odd jobs trying to provide for his wife but was having trouble finding a permanent profession. This struggle to make ends meet motivated him to seek a stable industry in which to build a career and a secure life for his family.
"I have been a nurse for 10 years and have always had a job."
Allred’s job research led him to the discovery that the region in which he lived was a medical hub, which made him consider nursing. He particularly liked that there is such a wide variety of nursing positions, meaning he could pursue different areas if he wanted to. He ultimately decided that nursing was the perfect career path for him.
“I have been a nurse for 10 years and have always had a job,” Allred says, “It was a very good decision for me and my family!”
3. I was a mason and saw my older coworkers’ injuries
Construction work can take a toll on your body. Jonathan Steele was working as a successful mason when he started to observe his friends aging with injuries and physical complications from the job.
“It became apparent that if I did not want that future, I needed to make a career change,” Steele says. He began his pursuit for a profession that only required a pen and a brain, but after reading up on the nursing profession, he was convinced it was the career for him.
He currently works as a holistic nurse in a private practice, while also serving as the executive director for a non-profit called Water Cures. “On a daily basis, I get to help people get the best health possible with simple changes in their diet and hydration,” Steele says.
4. I’ve been the patient and came back to be a patient advocate
Michelle Katz earned her undergraduate degree in public administration, but working various jobs after graduation left her feeling like something was missing from her life. She had a knack for biology and an interest in medicine, but wasn’t keen on investing the time and money a typical medical program demanded.
It wasn’t until a co-worker suggested nursing that Katz decided to scrape together every penny she had to enroll in a program. She was months away from her degree, when everything changed.
“[I was in] a car accident that flipped my whole world out from under me, and I had no health insurance,” Katz says. Her accident resulted in hefty medical bills and a long recovery time where she had trouble completing her rotations. After investigating into her medical bills, she was able to significantly decrease her fee. This experience opened her eyes to a gaping need in medicine—healthcare advocacy.
Katz believes nurses make the best patient advocates; they just need to know how to help. She plans to continue education nurses and patients and hopes to eventually advance her education in this area. For more on healthcare advocacy and to find her work, see her website Healthcare Hacker.
5. I wanted to let patients know they are cared for
Molly Gacetta was always intrigued by the healthcare field but didn’t know she wanted to be a nurse until she worked in a radiation oncology clinic. She witnessed the staff provide amazing, individualized care, which encouraged patients to be cooperative and optimistic despite their fear. She credits this gratifying experience for convincing her to pursue a nursing career.
"That's what nursing is all about. It's about seeing the person for who they are, not for their ailment."
“I love developing personal relationships with my patients, learning their stories, sharing some of mine and doing my best to provide comfort to them as they walk through one of the most difficult times in their lives,” Gacetta says.
Gacetta is also a volunteer with Mercy Ships in Africa and is currently serving in Madagascar. She believes the most amazing transformations she encounters aren’t the removed tumors or bowed legs made straight, but the lifted spirits, smiles and laughter.
“That’s what nursing is all about,” Gacetta says. “It’s about seeing the person for who they are, not for their ailment.”
What’s your motivation?
As you can see, many of the reasons for becoming a nurse aren’t quantitative. The emotional and circumstantial reasons that led these individuals to devote their lives to nursing are just a few of the stories out there.
So why choose nursing? Everyone has a different reason, but they’re all equally inspiring. If you’re looking for some of the more tangible reasons folks find this field favorable, learn about 6 benefits of becoming a nurse.