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8 Reasons Why Nursing Is Still a Great Career Choice

Barb Dalton, RN

Nurses were the unsung heroes of the pandemic, fighting an invisible threat on the front line. They worked around the clock, putting strangers ahead of their families and their own personal needs.

I am a nurse, but I do not work on the frontline. I’m a nursing teacher. I’ll confess to being incredibly guilty that I was safe behind a computer screen instructing my students while others were suddenly under extreme pressure as isolation precautions were mandated and vacations canceled.

Regardless of the pandemic, the job is selfless. Often, a shift passes without a break to eat or an opportunity to use the bathroom. Dealing with scared, frustrated, or angry patients and relatives is commonplace. Nurses bear the brunt of healthcare system failures worldwide: long wait times, delayed or canceled procedures, and a lack of staff to provide safe, prompt care.

As a teacher, I’m not fully immersed in hands-on patient care; my stethoscope is replaced with a whiteboard marker, or I’m a visitor at a hospital with six nervous tag-alongs in a foreign unit. But I still love nursing. I hope my passion for the job inspires the next generation of nurses.

There are days when I just want to throw in the teaching towel and get back to the crazy yet gratifying challenge of running like a chicken with its head chopped off . It’s fun performing wound care, mixing medications, and inserting, cleaning, or draining tubes in various orifices of the human body. Yet, it can also be the most thankless and horrible job. If you despise blood, human feces, or sputum, this is most definitely not the career for you.

So why would anyone want to start-or stay-in a job with perils and uncertainty?

Top Reasons to Become a Nurse

Here are eight reasons nursing is still a great career choice.

1. Nurses’ care

It takes more than knowledge and know-how to be a nurse; it requires passion and respect. Passion for a job that, despite its stressors and demands, has many rewards: the satisfaction of playing a part in restoring health, welcoming a newborn, or sharing in the pain and sadness of death. Respect for the human race, regardless of race, color, creed, and wealth, is necessary.

In my career, I have cared for people of all ages and walks of life. Each one is unique, with its own perceptions, fears, beliefs, and coping mechanisms. Meeting so many incredible human beings has made me a better person: more open-minded to differences, more appreciative of good health, and acutely aware of how precarious life is. It’s an enormous sense of satisfaction to leave work feeling like you made a difference in somebody’s day.

If you love being around people and are not afraid of hard work, then nursing is the job for you.

2. Shift work has its perks

Yes, it can be tiresome to be scheduled to work when everyone else seems to have the day off, especially for statutory holidays and weekends. Sickness doesn’t just happen Monday to Friday or go away because it is Easter or Passover. Older adults in a long-term care facility can’t magically fend for themselves because it is nighttime.

This is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, 365-day-of-the-year job. It does take some adjustment, especially those dreaded graveyard shifts, but there are advantages to shift work.

First and foremost, you don’t get ‘Mondayitis,’ that horrible realization at five on a Sunday afternoon that the weekend is done and it’s back to the grind tomorrow. Malls, salons, and gyms are usually quieter during the week - or in the morning - before a later shift, so you can get things done more quickly and efficiently. I loved the fuller selection of goodies available at the bakery and fruit market when I stopped in on my way home from a Friday night shift long before the crowds of people arrived.

Work travel time can also be reduced as you are not hitting traditional peak-hour traffic gridlock. Working evenings and nights as a nurse also means there are fewer administrative people around, which equals less hustle and bustle: charts do not disappear because someone else has them, phones do not ring incessantly, and there are no patient appointments to work around. And hopefully, the patients do actually sleep at some point!

While it may sound depressing to have to work at Christmas or New Year's, they have always been some of my most memorable days on duty. Alongside the potluck spread of food, there was always the anticipation of who (that is, what hospital in the area) would have the first baby of the year.

I would put myself in the patient’s shoes, a philosophy that can work well at any time if you have an ounce of respect for other people. Imagine how it feels for them to be stuck in a hospital feeling rotten, and it’s Christmas? Being a patient on these special occasions is worse for them than for you.

3. You work as a team

Caring for a patient is a team effort.

Nurses are with the patients, providing care around the clock. We work with other important professionals such as physiotherapists, dietitians, occupational therapists, and social workers.

We discuss patient needs with each other, centralizing care around the uniqueness of each person’s situation. We help each other restore or maintain a patient's health. Our individual expertise and qualities merge. We laugh and cry together. We learn and grow together. In the process, friendships and genuine respect for each other’s roles are built.

We can’t provide a service without each other.

4. You can try different jobs

One of the beautiful aspects of nursing is the ability to work in various units or care facilities.

During my career, I moved around a lot, feeling the need to extend myself once I got the hang of the routine in one place. If you like drama and work well under pressure, then the Emergency Room, Intensive, or Coronary Care is for you.

If you don’t mind being masked and gowned up regardless of a pandemic, then perhaps being an Operating Room nurse is better suited.

The beauty of Maternity nursing is that it is a happy place–most of the time. A long-term facility is an obvious option if you love older adults.

You can work in pediatrics or mental health. Clinic and community jobs are available, too. Still, usually, you must have a certain amount of nursing experience before you are permitted to do so since you may be working alone rather than as a team. You can even work in a prison, a factory, or a school or become a nursing teacher. The world is your oyster!

Alternatively, you can aspire to a more administrative role, such as a charge or head nurse. These positions are awarded to nurses who have extensive experience in a particular setting and have achieved higher levels of education. A charge nurse typically oversees the daily running of the unit and the patients' comings and goings, ensuring the nurse-patient assignment is done fairly and liaising with other professionals.

A head nurse is more involved in the unit’s budget, overseeing staff and liaising with management to ensure the smooth running of the department. They have little to no hands-on patient care.

5. There are jobs

The one thing that hit home during the pandemic was the fragility of jobs. It was particularly brutal if you worked in the entertainment, retail, or beauty industries. Nurses are always in demand, and employment opportunities are plentiful.

If you abide by the rules of your professional order and keep your license current, you're nearly guaranteed work.

6. You can travel the world

Nursing is an excellent career if you want to explore the world.

It’s commonplace for New Zealand-trained nurses to head overseas for more experience, usually to places like England, America, or the Arab States. The pay is often the big attraction, but living in another country and having an adventure while earning is also a drawcard.

Many international nursing agencies are always recruiting wherever you want to go. Many opportunities await if you wish to work on a cruise ship or in a remote rural community.

It is wise to complete all the necessary visas and paperwork before just going up and leaving. Each country has different licensing requirements. Although I had years of nursing experience in New Zealand, I still had to write and pass the professional exam in Quebec, Canada, before I could start working. Once all that was accomplished, I then had to pass a French exam.

If this is your desired direction, plan and do your homework first.

7. Learning is an integral part of the job

Once you finish training to be a nurse, your learning just begins. As a rule, most professional orders demand a certain number of hours yearly in professional development. Nursing is an ever-evolving job; procedures can change based on research and scientific evidence. Technology is constantly advancing, from the types of available wound dressing products to new equipment and resources. You must keep up with best practices and the ever-changing nursing world.

Nursing is a great career choice if you love learning and can adapt to change.

8. Once a nurse, always a nurse

I don’t know what it is, but when people ask what I do for a job, they always have something nice to say about nurses.

We are kind and compassionate people. We are also selfless, resilient, hardworking, and dedicated. However, we often make the worst patients because we know too much and don’t have the time to be sick ourselves.

My friends, family, and students frequently ask for advice on a health issue. My nursing hat is always on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While nursing is not for the faint-hearted or lazy, it is a gratifying career.

Every job has its ups and downs. I have had many shifts where I questioned my sanity or came home in tears. There’s always someone you have to work with, but you may not like so much. That’s the nature of any workplace, regardless of the role, the position, or the pay.

The beauty of nursing is its diversity.

Working evenings or nights is helpful if you have a young family. You can transfer units or hospitals to further your knowledge, gain more experience, advance your career, and continue your studies to take on a management role or become a teacher to train new nurses. There is a wealth of options to keep you enthused and passionate within the healthcare industry.

I’m grateful for a job that has allowed me to grow and develop an enormous sense of pride and accomplishment. Despite the pay, weird hours, and stress, nursing has given me choices, opened doors I never thought possible, and improved my self-confidence.

Nursing defines me.

Make a difference. Become a nurse!

About the Author:

A New Zealand-trained Registered Nurse with 8 years of experience in numerous fields of practice, Barb has been teaching nursing assistants in Quebec, Canada, for the last 12 years. Her nursing experience in both hospital and community settings, from postpartum to palliative care, provides a wealth of knowledge to facilitate student learning—and is a source of excellent writing fodder. She is known for her awareness of cultural diversities, maintaining best practices, and relating training content to the realities of the industry.

Barb is an independent contributor to CEUfast’s Nursing Blog Program. Please note that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely of the independent contributor and do not necessarily represent those of CEUfast. This blog post is not medical advice. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.

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