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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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!