I love hearing from readers or people who stop by my blog who are nurses and can related to what I’ve written or readers who are considering nurses and have questions! It can be a little nerve wracking to write about nursing – definitely different than writing about running because I feel like a profession (especially nursing) is held to such a high standard. I’m just one person with one opinion based on my experiences, but I remember feeling alone in some of my thoughts during my early years of nursing, and I would have wanted to find some words of wisdom when I was buried in my thoughts at 2am.
I recently got an email from a reader commenting on a post from many moons ago. She is considering nursing school and kept reading and hearing that you should be “called” to be a nurse or to only do it if you’re truly passionate about it. Well, the post she is referencing happens to mention my last few weeks of nursing school when a clinical instructor asked me if I really wanted to be a nurse because I didn’t really look like I wanted to be one.
In my defense, my clinical group nicknamed me, “Poker face” because I didn’t have expressions in response to anything – something that I actually think should be considered a good thing in nursing at times! (In other news, it’s slightly funny because I’m also well known for making very accurate facial expressions in response to a situation – apparently I can turn this on and off without really knowing.) Additionally, that clinical rotation really wasn’t that exciting or overly mentally stimulating, so who knows. Needless to say, with a few weeks left in the program, I was becoming a nurse whether I really wanted to or not!
Even back then I wondered if it really mattered how much I wanted to be a nurse, which is something I explained to the person who emailed me. Is it great if you follow your passion and that passion is nursing? Of course. Have I always wanted to be a nurse? Most definitely not. I had my heart set on becoming a doctor (ER or surgeon…not anesthesia!) until my junior year of college when I panicked right before taking the MCAT, and the rest is history. So you could say I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field in some way or another because I like learning about how the body works and how we can fix it, but the way I work within the system is different than what ten year old Susan thought it would be.
Do I love nursing? Was I born to be a nurse? Was it my calling? Patients and families would sometimes ask if I liked my job, to which I would respond, “Most days!” Because who loves their job every single day of the week?? And it was true. I liked being a burn nurse and the challenges that came with it, and I like helping people but I wouldn’t say it was my biggest passion. (I mean…I’ve had a running blog for almost nine years, so if you had to guess what my passion is…) I spent many hours in the wee hours of night shift googling for something else to do (MBA programs, coding, etc etc, ANYTHING) to get away from feeling like night-shift-induced death all the time. Could I be happy doing something else? Sure. Do I like the nursing profession? I do.
I don’t think everyone could be a nurse, just like I don’t think everyone could be an accountant or a teacher or a chef or a graphic designer or an architect or an engineer or any job out there. Sometimes we’re drawn to a career because we have skills that fit and maybe it fits our lifestyle and income desires. Nursing allows you to get a job almost anywhere, provides great job security, allows for a fair amount of flexibility, you can’t bring work home with you, and while you’re not going to be driving a Rolls Royce anytime soon, I lived comfortably off my income. Did I mention you get to wear drawstring pants to work?
I mean, who WOULDN’T want to be a nurse?? We’re pretty cool.
Just kidding. But I think there’s more to nursing than simply being called to it. There’s something to be said for hard work and simply being good at something – and just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to like it. (And I mean, while you don’t have to LOVE your job, you probably shouldn’t hate it, so take this all with a grain of salt.) Nursing is often elevated to this altruistic level, and while it definitely takes a certain person to work with people when they’re at their worst and to do some of the things we do, it’s still pays the bills! On the worst days, I sometimes reminded myself that I was still being paid! You couldn’t pay me enough to become a lawyer or teach kindergarten, and that’s okay! (Although if you make me an offer…)
We all find our path in different ways, whether it’s following our passion or doing something more practical. Nursing is a tough profession and helping people isn’t always easy, so if you think it’s for you, then come along! We’re happy to have you whether you’re head over heels in love or think you’ll do it well. As I wrote in response to the previously mentioned reader – “Nursing isn’t a perfect profession, but no profession is. Some people could never be a nurse, and that’s okay. Some people couldn’t do anything else, and that’s great for them. For many people, it’s a career chosen for many different factors, and that’s great as well.” I am thankful for all the experiences being at the bedside gave me, and I’m not sure I could ever work behind a computer for life – does that make me called to be a nurse? Probably not, but I am happy to be one.
Would any nurses out there like to weigh in? Did you feel called to be a nurse? Or did you find the profession as something that matched your interests? (Or both?)
For non-nurses – How’d you chose your career? (Do you think you could be a nurse??)