Why Nursing? 10 Reasons to Become a Nurse
There are so many reasons nursing might appeal to you. If you want to help sick and injured patients, have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and serve as a solid role model for others in your life, nursing is an excellent way to make that happen.
Entering the nursing profession has been a consistently smart career choice over the years, with registered nurses and nurse practitioners ranking in the top 20 best jobs of 2023 by U.S. News & World Report®.1 The nursing field is expansive, covering dozens of job titles, specialties and work environments.
So what makes nursing such a great career option? We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 reasons why today is the right time for you to start your educational path toward a career in nursing.
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10 Reasons why becoming a nurse can be a great career option
There are several compelling reasons for becoming a nurse—here’s the short and sweet summary:
- A nursing shortage is driving demand
- You help people for a living
- Nurses have solid earning potential
- Technology is opening new opportunities in nursing
- Nursing-related careers can expand beyond the hospital or clinic
- Nursing is a vibrant community
- Nurses have support for educational growth
- Nurses have schedule and location flexibility
- There are a variety of educational pathways to nursing
- It’s a respected role
Of course, that’s just a high-level view of the reasons why nursing could be a great fit for you. Read on for a more detailed explanation of each.
Why become a nurse? 10 Reasons worth considering
1. A nursing shortage creates demand
“As the baby boomers age and more and more people have access to insurance, it seems that hospitals are having a hard time keeping up,” says Brooke Wallace, co-founder of RegisteredNursing.org. Among those aging and reaching retirement age are thousands of practicing RNs and LPNs that will need to be replaced when they retire.
As a travel nurse, Wallace has experience in many different ICU environments. “The one thing they all have in common is too many patients and not enough staffed beds,” she says. This massive influx of patients combined with RN retirements—while a serious issue—does offer a silver lining for aspiring nurses as demand for services should remain strong. In 2021 to 2031 the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6 percent increase in employment for both RNs and for licensed practical nurses (LPNs).2
The lingering impact of COVID-19 has also placed a strain on staffing, as some nurses have opted to retire earlier than they had previously planned or change career paths. Pair this with the already baked-in demographic challenges facing the nursing profession and demand for nurses appears poised to remain strong.
2. You help people for a living
It’s been said a thousand times, but we’ll say it again—you can make a difference as a nurse. This is a people profession. You will more than likely help patients in some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. You will take care of their medical needs, but you may also have the chance to make them feel safe, cared for and heard like few others.
That’s an incredibly rewarding feeling that isn’t found in every career—and certainly something nurses can hang their hats on when dealing with the inevitable rough day at work.
3. Nurses have solid earning potential
Altruism and “hero talk” aside, any nurse will tell you that your career still needs to pay the bills. The good news is that nursing positions tend to fair well. The BLS reports a 2021 median annual salary of $77,600 for registered nurses.2 For LPNs, the BLS reports a 2021 median annual salary of $48,070—not bad, particularly when you consider the fact that both roles do not necessarily require a Bachelor’s degree.2
4. Technology is opening new opportunities in nursing
The fundamentals of patient care aren’t going to change overnight, but that doesn’t mean the nursing field is insulated from innovation. Advances in technology are rapidly changing the scope of the healthcare industry, including nursing. One field in particular, nursing informatics, has created a whole new career path for nurses. Informatics deals with using modern information technology tools to gather patient and treatment data for further analysis. This can help drive improvements to efficacy, efficiency and patient safety.
5. Nursing-related careers can expand beyond the hospital or clinic
Nurses today can be entrepreneurs, administrators, policymakers, bloggers, professors, researchers and even doctors of nursing, practicing at the uppermost levels of nursing.
“There are so many opportunities out of the hospital for nurses,” says Janice Dolnick, RN-BSN and legal nurse consultant. Dolnick advises nursing students to take classes that pertain to more than just patient care.
“Nursing is a labor-intensive profession, and the long-term physical effects are important to consider,” Dolnick says. “Gaining some experience and education in the business management role is one thing I wish I could add to my resume.”
As nurses become more mobile throughout healthcare, business, politics and other spheres of society, they gain more influence to change the industry. Plus, nurses who experience burnout on the floor now have more choices to change their work lives without leaving the nursing field entirely.
6. Nursing has a vibrant community
Nursing is positively stuffed with organizations, supportive community boards and interactive blogs. Larger umbrella associations, like the American Nursing Association (ANA), trickle down into organizations dedicated to specialties, which in turn trickle down to blogging communities, local groups, podcasts and pretty much any resource you could hope to find from fellow nurses. If you are a nurse and have internet access, you’ll never need to feel alone.
7. Nurses have support for educational growth
As part of an initiative to increase the overall quality of nursing care, in 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine released a report calling for 80 percent of registered nurses to hold baccalaureate degrees by 2020.3
While it appears the 80 percent goal has not yet been met, there’s a clear push from many healthcare providers to increase the overall level of education possessed by their nursing workforce—and that may include chipping in with their employees’ education costs. Nurses who take advantage of options to further their education can potentially open the door to leadership and other specialized roles. Many institutions offer RN to BSN programs that are designed to maximize the nursing experience RNs already have.
“Many hospitals will now only hire registered nurses with a Bachelor’s degree,” Dolnick says. “When I obtained my license through an ASN program, my employer immediately pushed me to return to school to obtain my BSN.”
8. Nursing careers often have schedule and location flexibility
It’s a commonly known fact that many nurses have some flexibility in their schedule as they meet the always-on demands of patient care, but that’s not the only place where nurses have a plethora of options from which to choose.
Flexibility in location is another reason to pursue a career as a nurse. Nurses can work anywhere from traditional locations, such as hospitals and doctor’s offices, to less-obvious locations such as home healthcare, schools and even in the air as emergency flight nurses.
And if you like to be on the go, travel nursing can be an appealing option. Wallace says travel nurses move from hospital to hospital, responding to fill in for sudden staffing needs. Due to the in-demand nature of these jobs, they often pay very well and may even cover the expense of your travel to boot.
9. There’s a variety of educational pathways into nursing
Many healthcare careers offer just one path—get the degree, then get the job. This can be restricting if you aren’t sure what you want your career to look like or if you prefer to get working faster. Nursing offers multiple paths that can be added to as time goes on.
“I did the 13-month LPN program, then immediately started an LPN-to-RN program while I worked at an Alzheimer’s unit and as an agency LPN," Wallace says, emphasizing that this route enabled her to begin working quickly while still gaining an education. Wallace later completed an RN-to-BSN program online to gain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
“I recommend this path to every person I meet who is interested in nursing. This was the fastest way to get nursing and make money while continuing my education.”
10. The nursing profession is well-respected
Nurses have been consistently rated as the “most respected profession” by consumers, according to Gallup® polling.4 Nursing is a career that you can be proud of—even respected for. While nursing might not be the first profession people think of when looking at the medical world, it is one of the first professions people think of when they look for ethical and honest work.
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“After being a nurse more than 10 years, I can say that some things have changed drastically and others are the same and probably always will be,” Wallace says. “The basic fact for the field of nursing is that the need is there and can’t be replaced by non-nurses.”
There are a lot of reasons why nursing is a great profession to choose. But perhaps an even more important motive for those pursuing this path is the constant opportunity for nurses to change lives—a purpose that will never go away.
Think you’re ready to begin a career in nursing? You’ve got plenty of options for becoming a registered nurse in short order. To learn more, check out our article “ A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Levels of Nursing Credentials.”
1U.S. News and World Report, “100 Best Jobs – 2023”, [accessed March 2023] https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed March 2023] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
3Institute of Medicine, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health [accessed March 2023] https://www.nap.edu/catalog/12956/the-future-of-nursing-leading-change-advancing-health
4Gallup, Honesty / Ethics in Professions, [accessed March 2023] https://news.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx U.S. News & World Report is a registered trademark of U.S. News & World Report, Inc.
Gallup is a registered trademark of Gallup, Inc.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2023.