May 15, 2023

Reasons Why I Became a Nurse Later in Life (It Wasn't My Passion)

Reasons Why I Became a Nurse Later in Life (It Wasn't My Passion)

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As National Nurses’ Week comes to a close, most nurses will naturally reflect on their career and their decision to enter the “most trustworthy profession”. Some may even be questioning staying in the profession amidst the constant struggles of being underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated. This past week we’ve all heard stories about nurses that found their passion and purpose in nursing. Others, on the other hand, were destined to become nurses. It was their true calling. 

But what about those that chose nursing for other reasons? Obviously, going into nursing you have to WANT to help people. You have to WANT to make a difference. But what if the passion and purpose came later? What if - nursing was a profession chosen out of practicality or even necessity? 

No one ever talks about those nurses. But why? Does it make them less of a nurse? Less successful? Less compassionate towards their patients and their families? Inferior to their colleagues? 

I’m here to tell all those nurses, it’s okay. No, it doesn’t. Nursing doesn’t have to be something you dreamed of since you were little. I never did. I looked at it from a practical standpoint. Were there career opportunities? Was there growth and advancement? Was there stability? Would I be able to make a decent living? 

Nursing Was My Second-Degree

Over the past 15 years, my career has been less than “normal”. I decided to become a nurse only after graduating with an undergraduate degree in another field. At the time my mom was a nurse as well as countless other relatives including aunts, uncles, and cousins. Additionally, some cousins had entered the medical profession as infectious disease doctors and cardiologists. 

I thought, “Hey, nursing could be fun.” Plus I was really good at science courses and I was interested in medicine. Would I say I was passionate about it when I decided to be a nurse? No. Did I dream about becoming a nurse? Not really.

Nursing Was a Safe Career With A Lot of Opportunity

My dad suggested it and with a little research, we found several second-degree accelerated BSN programs in the Philadelphia area that would help me become a nurse in 15 months. The program I chose was slightly longer than some of the others but it gave me the opportunity to work throughout the program, have a life, and even travel during breaks.  

Throughout my courses I found nursing to come naturally to me, both in the classroom and in clinicals. I was able to connect with patients, especially in the pediatric world. I may not have started my career out of the passion to be a nurse but it’s what kept me going through a long and rigorous program. 

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I found safety in knowing that unlike some of my friends from college, I would come out with a degree and the ability to find a job at any of the major healthcare systems in the city. Granted it might not be my first choice, BUT there are ALWAYS jobs for nurses. At times, even now, it’s something I think we take for granted as a nurse. I’ve seen friends and family go on countless job interviews for that one position at a company. The only one they are trained, educated, and qualified for. When they don’t get the job - then what? 

I Landed My Dream Job Right Out Of Nursing School

My first job out of nursing school was at a Level 3 NICU at a major children’s hospital. It was my dream job. It’s one of two that I applied to. The thing is, if I didn’t get either of those jobs, there were countless others in med-surg, the adult world, and even long-term care. Those fields never interested me and perhaps my path would have been different if I had entered one of those specialties but nevertheless, I would have had a job.

NICU was where I found my passion. Pediatrics would be my home for the next 15 years and still is. I formed great friendships with other nurses and with the help of a former clinical instructor who now is a dear friend, colleague, and mentor I furthered my education and became a clinical instructor at one of the top nursing programs in the country. 

I Learned To Love Nursing, After Many Years

Nursing has become my passion. I have learned to love it. I have learned that even though it wasn’t my lifelong dream - I was in fact destined to become a nurse and help others. So, to the nursing student that is questioning their decisions while in the thick of it, the graduate nurse that just failed the NCLEX, or the new nurse on orientation struggling to find their rhythm  - it’s okay.

Nursing doesn’t need to be your passion, nursing doesn’t even have to be your destiny - but it doesn’t make you any less of a nurse. Remember that the next time someone questions your motives for becoming a nurse.