When researchers look at the different factors that matter to people in their careers, the one that consistently comes out on top is not what they get paid, nor the ease with which the work can be done, but how useful they feel.
This may be the single most important factor in explaining why members of the nursing profession consistently rank their work highly when it comes to job satisfaction. Nurses can see the good that they are doing directly, almost every day. This has a significant positive effect on mental health, which lasts well beyond retirement, when they can relax and look back at lives well spent. With opportunities always available, this is a fantastic choice of career.
Transforming patients’ lives
While doctors focus on treating diseases, nurses look at the whole person and focus on improving health. The effect of this can be transformative, helping patients to recover their energy levels, abilities they thought they had lost forever, and their sense of hope. Doctors prescribe treatments and cures, but nurses actually apply them. When you become a nurse, it will be your hard work that restores patients both physically and emotionally, getting them through difficult experiences and back on the road to recovery. The effect of this will bolster your own optimism and the confidence with which you face challenges in life.
Receiving medical treatment can be particularly hard for children, especially if it means a hospital stay. As a nurse, part of your job will center on making it easier for them, talking them through their worries and even using toys and games to make their stay a fun experience. It may be their first time staying away from home, and as such it can be a positive step on the road to growing up and becoming independent if they have the right support.
You will also be there for their parents, to help them understand what is happening and reassure them that their children will be safe in your care. At the other end of the life course, you will work with elderly people who may be confused about their surroundings and not understand what is happening to them. You will bring them comfort and help them to feel at ease, as well as reassure their children that they are getting to best possible support. You will take the worry out of hospital treatment and help families to stay strong.
The more time you spend as a nurse, the better you will get at relating to different sorts of people — even people you might never have imagined yourself getting close to. You will continually develop and grow your empathy, and this will extend to your personal life, where you will find that you become better at solving problems and healing rifts because you can more easily understand others’ points of view. You will find it easier to listen and easier to forgive. Learning to see the best in others will make the world feel like a better, more joyous place, and you will be more resilient in the face of upsetting events. You will develop as a person and inspire those around you to do the same.
At times when you do not feel very confident or sure of yourself, it really helps to be able to reflect on what you do for a living and remind yourself how much other people value that. If you are feeling down on yourself, you can think about the former patients who are living longer and happier lives because of you, and reflect on the joy that they, in turn, are bringing to others. You can remember the thanks that patients have given you and feel uplifted by that. Everybody experiences insecurity and self-doubt sometimes but knowing that you are valued by others will help you to start smiling again.
Contributing as part of a team
One of the other great things about working as a nurse is that no matter how tough things may be, you will never be alone. Even nurses who work without direct support, for instance by going out into the community or leading research projects, always know that they have the nursing community to fall back on. The vast majority of nurses work in teams and contributing to the success of a team is a deeply fulfilling experience. You will have opportunities to step in and help colleagues when needed, and you will receive help in turn. You will also be able to share ideas, ease each other’s sorrows and enjoy being part of a community that offers lots of social opportunities.
Making the most of your talents
Every nurse starts off as a generalist. If you take one of the online accelerated BSN nursing programs at Baylor University, you will be able to enhance your skills, improve your knowledge of areas like safety and health promotion, and prepare yourself for developing a specialty, all in just one year. In the process, you will get a clearer idea of where your talents are strongest, and you will be able to find a direction that really lets you make the most of them. There are few things as rewarding as really being able to use your education, and it is something that most people, in other professions, get a lot less opportunity to do. Moreover, because of the way that the nursing profession supports lifelong learning, you can continue to build on it throughout your career.
All in all, there are very few careers out there that will give you the sense of fulfillment that nursing does. It is an innately personal profession, one that will test your emotional strength and sometimes push you to the limit, but it will also enable you to grow as a person and feel a deep connection to others. You will be doing work that really matters on a fundamental level, and over the course of your career, thousands of lives will change for the better as a result. When you finally come to retire, you will know that you put your own life to good use.