Working as a nurse can be one of the most fulfilling positions you can fill. It can also be a difficult job if you don’t have the disposition for it. Nursing should be more than just a job, it should be a calling if your goal is to last. You also have to be prepared for what life as a nurse is really about, not how it’s portrayed. By knowing what you should expect from the profession, you’ll be better able to see if you’re a correct fit for it. It could also help you in your choice of specialization. Here are some of the pros and cons of becoming a nurse.
Pro – It’s a Well Recognized Position
One of the best things about working as a nurse is how recognized you’ll be. Nurses are highly regarded and respected in society, and you’ll derive a sense of pride from it. Nurses are also respected when they move into other fields in medicine, or even in public service. They are seen as front line soldiers in times of crisis. They are also seen as those who help bring life into this world. People will often show their gratitude for you and what you do, so this is definitely one of the perks of working in the profession.
Con – Hostile Environments
While it is true that you will be appreciated by the public at large, there are some times when you might not feel the most appreciated. The worst is that it will often come from people you’re trying to help.
Depending on which setting you’re working in, you might have to deal with people who are hesitant or downright hostile to treatment. There are also times when patients will be in a volatile state, such as after altercations, for instance. This means you could find yourself at the receiving end of their anger and will have to grow a thick skin to accept how you’re being treated.
Pro – You get to see Patients Evolve and Improve
Depending on the field you’re in, you might get to follow patients from infancy to adulthood. You get to see them change their habits and the benefits of it. This will be the case if you decide to work as a family nurse practitioner, for instance.
If you want to learn more about the job of a family nurse practitioner, you can check out this article by Marymount University in which they run down the requirements to become one and some details like family nurse practitioner work hours. They also discuss some of the skills you need to succeed, what certification you need, and the best states in the country for nurses who want full practice authority.
Being able to save someone’s life and see them constantly improve can also be very rewarding. Or helping seniors gain back some of their mobility and energy. You’ll get to really make a difference, and see how you’re able to change people’s lives.
Con – Dealing with Loss
On the other hand, you also have to be able to take the good with the bad. There are some days when you might end up losing a patient, and this can be heart-wrenching depending on the case. This is why people who see themselves as sensitive or “empaths” should think twice about becoming nurses. At least not in fields where they’ll constantly have to deal with grief and loss.
Being a nurse means that you’ll need to be able to come to terms with death fast if you haven’t already. It’s also being able to establish clear barriers between work and life so you don’t end up bringing cases back home with you.
Pro – You’ll Be Well Compensated
However, while the job can be physically and mentally demanding, it’s also one of the most well paid, even without long studies. Nurse managers can earn well into the six figures, for instance. Here are some of the highest paying nursing positions you can find:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist $167,950
- General Nurse Practitioner $107,030
- Family Nurse Practitioner $98,408
- Nursing Administrator $99,730
- Registered Nurse First Assist $96,418
- Nurse Educator $81,350
Across all specializations, the median pay for nurses is $71,730, making it one of the highest-paid positions in the country. The prospects are exceptionally good as well with demographic pressures and the threat of looming health crises. It is estimated that the number or needed registered nurses are set to increase by a whopping 28.4% leading into 2030. So, if you’re looking for a career with great pay and almost guaranteed demand, then this is the right choice.
Con – Tough Hours
Shifts as a nurse can be tough and long. This is something a lot of people expect coming into the profession, and the stories of double and triple shifts are certainly not myths, though they’re less common than many think. However, you will have to be prepared to fill long shifts and have to fill in for people in case of emergency from time to time.
One thing you should know, however, is that you don’t necessarily need to deal with hectic schedules. There are some part-time and short shift positions out there. There are also positions where you’ll be locked into a 9 to 5.
One example would be working as a school nurse. Your day ends at the same time as the children’s, so little room for overtime there. Those who work in family practice also tend to have schedules that are more fixed. There are so many options when it comes to nursing that you could find virtually any kind of schedule arrangement you’re looking for. Which brings us to our next point.
Pro – Nursing is an Extremely Diverse Field
Probably one of the best things about the field of nursing is how vast and diverse it can be. Whether you want to be closer to the action or more of an administrative role, you can find a place in nursing.
You could decide to work in a very specific field as well. You could become a nuclear medicine nurse, for instance, and help prepare and administer radioactive substances during treatment. Or you could decide to become a yacht nurse and attend to passengers while enjoying a nice drink on the pier on your off time. The possibilities are almost limitless.
Con – Exposure to Pathogens
Another thing you have to be prepared for is dealing with exposure to pathogens and various bodily fluids. If you’re not ready for the gruesome reality of this work, then it might not be for you. While there are some instances where you could stay away from it, these are very limited and you never know if you’ll be thrust into an uncomfortable situation at some point.
If you do decide to work on the front lines, you need to be prepared for different infection scenarios, such as getting splashed by infected fluids or getting struck by a needle, for instance. However, know that there will be strict protocols wherever you’ll be working to deal with incidents like these, so there’s no need to worry.
Pro – No Hassle in the Morning
On the fun side, not having to worry about what you’re going to wear to work is always fun. You only have to choose which pair of scrubs you’re going to wear for the day and you’re good to go. In most cases, you won’t even have to clean them yourself. That’s basically like working in loungewear, and you get to wear sneakers all day. Perfect job if you’re trying to get some cardio in as well.
Con – Can Be Stressful
Nursing can be a stressful job, and it definitely takes a certain type of character to power through it. If you do well or even thrive under pressure, however, this is the perfect position for you.
Situations can change very quickly, and you might end up hustling your whole shift with no end in sight. You might get pulled from every side at once, and have to become a master at multitasking. And you’ll have to keep your cool the whole time.
This is why you will need to do a good self-examination before you decide to make the jump. You want to evaluate how you’ve performed in high-pressure situations throughout your whole life. If you’re the kind of person who gets in “the zone” when the lights are on, you could be in your element. On the other hand, if you tend to crack, you might want to either think about a completely different field or look at positions that will be less demanding.
So, now that you know a little bit more about what being a nurse is really about, we suggest you talk with someone and learn a bit more about how to actually get there. Make sure to also gather info from other nurses so you can get an even clearer picture of the profession.