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Nursing Students Share Top Reasons for Being a Nurse

Susan C. Slaninka, EdD, RN, is an adjunct professor of nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA.

Most nurses are juggling career, home and family responsibilities. One wonders why anyone would add graduate school to an already busy life. Classes, seminars, term papers and long clinical days fill the time that is left in their already-packed schedule.

About halfway through the semester of an online graduate class, I assign one “lighter” assignment to allow students to take a breath and relax. This year’s assignment was a Top 10 List.

In today’s world, so many of us hear nurses complain about how difficult and challenging our jobs have become and yet graduate students have obviously met that challenge and are seeking to continue in nursing. They clearly see something positive in what they do, so I asked them to identify the top 10 reasons they love being a nurse. Instead of giving you 40 top 10 lists, I have drawn from all of their entries and made a Top 40 list. I encourage you to take a minute and make your own top 10 list.

  • 1. Nursing is a fulfilling career. I love that I make a difference in people’s lives most every day.
  • 2. Nursing is a challenging career where I learn something new every day. It is never boring.
  • 3. Nursing satisfies my need to comfort and care for others.
  • 4. Nursing is being able to help someone if only by saying a kind word or providing a gentle touch.
  • 5. One good day at work can make up for any of the bad days I have.
  • 6. Nursing is being present for many of a patient’s most meaningful moments including the birth of a child and the death of a loved one.
  • 7. It takes a special person to do what we do and I’m glad to be a part of it.
  • 8. Nursing is educating, advocating and helping others strive for a better quality of life.
  • 9. Nursing helps me organize my time efficiently.
  • 10. Nursing has helped me to really listen to others.
  • 11. I get to wear glorified pajamas (scrubs) to work.
  • 12. Nursing is part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • 13. Nursing has strengthened my spiritual faith.
  • 14. Nursing has offered me the gratification in knowing I am “giving back to society.”
  • 15. Nurses can help someone heal in mind, body and spirit.
  • 16. I have a passion for what I do. I never wake up and dread going to work.
  • 17. I love the challenge of my career. No 2 days are ever the same.
  • 18. Nursing has made me a better person, husband, wife, son, daughter and friend. I am more patient, caring and open-minded because I’m a nurse.
  • 19. Nursing helps me value my life and those who are in it. I see sudden, unfortunate death frequently and it gives me stronger resolve to stop and “smell the roses.”
  • 20. Nursing allows me to be creative. Having a child forget he is in the hospital is the greatest by bringing in snow so he can make a snowman.
  • 21. The goodbye hugs from the children who shouldn’t have made it but somehow did.
  • 22. Nursing allows me to have a lot of autonomy.
  • 23. There is always room for advancement in nursing.
  • 24. Being a nurse means lifelong learning.
  • 25. Nursing allows for a flexible schedule. When my sons were younger, I could work weekends or evenings when their father was home and, now that I am back in school, I can work around my school schedule.
  • 26. Feeling trusted. There is nothing better than beginning your shift and having a parent leave because they know their child is in good hands.
  • 27. Not having to do it all. If you can’t get everything done, there is always someone on the team that can help.
  • 28. Most people don’t particularly like their jobs. I can honestly say that I am proud to a nurse.
  • 29. I love the fast-paced, technologically advanced, critical-thinking environment of nursing. I am always challenged in new ways.
  • 30. I love my amazing work family. Sometimes I spend more time with them than my real family!
  • 31. I love all the people I have the opportunity to meet on a daily basis from all across the world. Understanding cultural differences is a real gift.
  • 32. Nursing has humbled me. Many days, I hold a patient’s life in my hands.
  • 33. Nursing has taught me to have empathy and compassion for others.
  • 34. On most days I expend more calories at work than I take in. Nursing is definitely not sedentary!
  • 35. If you don’t like one area of nursing, there is always something else to try.
  • 36. Being able to work with a lot of smart people.
  • 37. Achieving gratification is seeing patients thrive who were once ill and knowing I had a part in their recovery
  • 38. Having 24/7 access to medical advice and education from trusted healthcare professionals.
  • 39. There is such camaraderie among nurses in and out of the clinical environment. Once you discover another person is a nurse, you share a common bond and understanding.
  • 40. I am allowed to see just a snapshot of strangers’ lives. Although they may not remember my name in 10 years, they will remember the way I made them feel.


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