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.