It's hard to dispute that nurses are among the hardest workers in the healthcare profession today. Registered Nurses (RNs) endure many stressful situations on the job, ranging from having more patients than time to see them, to navigating workplace politics, to being up close and personal with people in a way that would make most of us more than a little squeamish. Yet, it's rare when nurses don't have poignant stories to illustrate why they love their job.
In fact, 74% of nurses report overall job satisfaction despite the additional responsibilities created by a nationwide shortage of qualified RNs and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) candidates to fill the many available nursing jobs.
While a quick review of any nursing forum reveals a fair amount of understandable venting from RNs, LPNs, and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), it's clear that the career rewards outweigh the drawbacks.
A careful investigation of those lively discussions exposes consistent themes from nurses who report, often enthusiastically, the many reasons they are happy with their career choice. Take a look at the top five:
1. Variety of fields. Nurses value the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. Whether it's a hospital, a physician's office, or a nursing home it's nice to have choices about your work environment. Furthermore, within a single hospital setting, nurses can work in the operating room, in critical care, or in the emergency room as well as explore specialties like pediatrics, psychiatry, or oncology. Finally, advancement opportunities are plentiful for nurses who aspire to become a Charge Nurse, Nurse Manager, or Director of Nursing. It's rare to find so much variety and opportunity in a single occupation, especially in today's economic climate.
2. Connecting with patients and making a difference. The healthcare industry serves a broad spectrum of people, and nurses encounter individuals from all walks of life. Providing comfort and security at times when patients and families are vulnerable is a reward that many people never experience. Playing an integral role in improving a patient's health and then receiving genuine gratitude from that patient is often the greatest gift.
3. Fascination for medical science. Nurses have a thirst for knowledge. With so many treatable conditions, technology updates, and scientific breakthroughs, nurses learn something new each day. Passing on knowledge to patients and applying what is learned in their own lives provides tremendous satisfaction. The most experienced veteran nurses enjoy the respect they receive from new team members as well as the chance to share what they have learned.
4. Perks that come with the job. With the exception of working in a clinic with fixed office hours or being new to the profession, the daily schedule for a nurse can be fairly flexible. In hospitals, nurses commonly work three consecutive 12-hour shifts followed by four days off, creating the ability to spend concentrated time with family or pursue other interests. Additionally, salaries and healthcare benefits allow nurses to maintain a comfortable standard of living with plenty of earning potential tied to advancements.
5. Suitable environment. More often than not, the work environment for a nurse is fast-paced, demanding, and most assuredly high-pressure. Yet, it's precisely this pace that many nurses prefer. The importance of thinking critically and making quick, impactful decisions is exhilarating, and it keeps many nurses happy to return to work shift after shift.
Think something's missing from this list? If you're a nurse, feel free to chime into the comments section and tell us the number one reason you enjoy your career in nursing.