“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Adults often ask children this question, but I have decided to rephrase it. Instead, I am asking, “Have you thought about being a nurse when you grow up?”
Why a nurse? The most obvious answer is because I am a nurse. Next, I want children to know that nursing is an opportunity, and last, we are facing a critical need for nurses nationwide, and it is never too early to start recruiting.
Nursing is an honorable profession with humble roots. Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, took care of soldiers during the Crimean War. She discovered the injured soldiers were dying because of communicable disease, so she intervened with cleanliness (clean environment, clean water) to reduce the death rate. She was the first nurse to implement best practices to improve outcomes.
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In 2021, for the 20th year in a row, nursing was ranked as the most trusted profession, according to Gallup. In fact, nurses have ranked No. 1 almost every year since the Gallup Honesty and Ethics poll has been conducted, except for 2001, when firefighters were voted No. 1 after 9/11, and rightly so.
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A career in nursing provides many options, and not just at the bedside. In the hospital setting alone there are multiple choices such as critical care, cardiac care, medical surgical, labor and delivery, nephrology, oncology, pediatrics, neonatal intensive care … you get the picture. Additionally, outside the hospital walls there are opportunities for community nursing, school nursing, clinics, education and more.
Being a nurse is never boring. It is always a challenge. Nurses face life and death each day. They welcome new life and hold the hands of the dying. Nursing is both science and art. Best-practice guidelines come from science, but caring and compassion are a form of art.
Registered nursing is projected to be one of the top careers in job growth through 2029. Additionally, opportunities beyond the registered nurse role are available with continued education. These roles include nurse practitioner, nurse leader and nurse educator.
Nursing has changed tremendously since Florence Nightingale’s time, and I think she would be proud. When she started serving as a nurse, nursing was a lowly profession, but now nurses are a respected part of the health care team.
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Nursing is more than a career or a job; it is an opportunity to change lives and make a difference in the world. So now I ask anyone reading this, “Have you ever thought about being a nurse or encouraging your children to consider a nursing career?” The need for nurses has never been more critical and the personal reward has never been greater.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Have you thought about being a nurse? Here's why you should