Are You Glad You Became a Nurse?

I found an interesting study regarding nurses’ satisfaction with their career choice. Note the respondents were middle-aged (45 – 64) and predominately female.

Since my specialty is gerontology, I have included the comments made by three older nurses. Yes, Yes, I know they are all positive.

I look forward to a study that includes younger nurses and more males. Would there be differences in the outcome?

Most Nurses Have Few to No Regrets About Career Choice

by Alicia Ault

Medscape, January 25, 2017

When asked what they liked best about their career, most nurses could not narrow it down to just one answer — instead, they gave multiple reasons, with relationships with patients, being good at what they do, and having a job they liked being among the top answers, in a new survey by Medscape.

The Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report for 2016 surveyed 10,026 practicing nurses in the United States, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The respondents were largely female, middle-aged (aged 45 to 64 years), and in practice more than 21 years.

The different nurse specialists varied slightly in how they ranked the most rewarding aspects of their job. For LPNs, the top answers were gratitude from patients and relationships with patients, along with being proud of what they do. For RNs, those answers ranked high in their response, along with working at a job they liked and being very good at what they do.

I have been a nurse for 54 years & am still practicing part time. I have loved almost every one of my jobs & have so expanded my mind & approach. Nursing is so varied that one can do almost anything. I was originally a diploma nurse & have taught in an AD program. After 13 years as a practicing nurse, I returned to school to find that I was given little if any credit for my excellent 3-year diploma program. I had to start all over again & spent 4 years as a full time student (with another year of graduate school). The AD & BSN programs offered similar clinical practica. It’s very unfortunate that the clinical aspects of the diploma programs could not be salvaged for the other two. Nursing needs an internship after the 4-year education. Practical skills will always be necessary for clinical nurses.

I was recently hired by my current employer at 72 years of age because of my experience. How nice to be so valued even at my age. I can’t imagine doing anything other than nursing. What a rich and rewarding professional life it has been.

Lynne D. Pancoast, RN, MSN

Among APRNs, gratitude figured least highly for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), when compared with the higher percentages among nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. Working at a job they liked and being good at that job were the biggest rewards cited by CNSs and CRNAs.

Money was rarely cited by any nurse — at around 2% for most of the specialties — as the most rewarding aspect of their job, although 8% of CNRAs said it was important.

Although salary and pay did not figure greatly into the rewards side of the equation, it did come up when nurses were asked about least satisfying aspects of their job. The “amount of money I am paid” was the top answer for LPNs and CNSs, cited by 23% and 17% respectively, as the least satisfying part of the job.

Surprisingly, some 6% to 11% of respondents said “nothing,” when asked what was least satisfying about their job.

Lack of Respect a Looming Issue

I’m glad I became a nurse and would do it again.  I’ve worked on the same inpatient oncology unit for 35 years. I am nearly 70, work 24 hours a week and wil continue working for sometime.  Financially I do not have to work.

I am employed by one of the largest HMOs in the country which has many unionized employees.  My pay and benefits are excellent.  The most satisfying part of my job is being appreciated by the patients.  I work on a unit that has exceptionally dedicated staff that truely care about the people we take care of.

The least favorite part of my job is charting; it’s cumbersome, duplicative and often not read. It takes us away from comforting, listening to and teaching our patients.

Margaret McGowan-Tuttle|  Registered Nurse (RN)

A good many nurses — LPNs, RNs, and APRNs — found documentation requirements to be burdensome, and 11% to 13% of respondents said a lack of respect from physicians and other colleagues was also discouraging. For CRNAs, the lack of respect was the greatest frustration on the job, with about a third saying it was an issue.

Although the low percentage of survey respondents who said respect was a problem might not indicate a huge problem, it was a repeated theme in comments. Nurses of all stripes indicated frustration with what they viewed as a lack of respect from administrators, physicians, patients, and even peers.

One expressed dismay with the “attitude of some patients that the hospital is a hotel and that I am a glorified waitress.” Another APRN cited “the constant battle to be seen as a provider and not just another nurse by the nurses and support staff in the office.”

Some nurses also expressed frustration with what they saw as a lack of support, citing overwhelming workloads; insufficient staff or resources; and excessive regulations, oversight, and payer denials. On the negative side, managers were called unsupportive, incompetent, uncommunicative, and not having a good appreciation of their jobs. Physicians were described as bullying, rude, and disrespectful.

Most Would Change Practice Setting

Some 95% of survey respondents said they were glad they’d become a nurse, and close to as many said they’d choose nursing as a profession if they had to do it all over again. CRNAs were least likely to say they would choose nursing again (73%).

I chose nursing as a career by accident. I entered a diploma program in 1964 because: it was affordable ($600 for three years of education, books, uniforms and housing); I was good at science; and I didn’t want to be a teacher or secretary. Nursing was the best thing that ever happened to me. I loved every bit of it, working in ICU, pediatrics, mental health and finally teaching.

I went on to get a BS, MSN and EdD, all paid for by my employers. The flexible hours allowed me to work and raise a family. When I needed money for college for my children, I continued teaching and worked weekends in the hospital. I loved working with patients and sharing my passion, knowledge and skills with students and other nurses.

Although I am retired, I still do occasional consulting to nursing programs. One of my greatest rewards is seeing nurses I have taught at work and knowing I played a small role in their career.

Jessica Price|  Registered Nurse (RN)


Most nurses indicated they would not choose the same practice setting if given the chance to start over. Those who worked in hospitals were the most likely — at 28% — to say they’d stick with that setting. Close behind, 27% who work in an academic setting said they’d choose that setting again. Those in skilled nursing, home health, or contract/agency positions were least likely, at 11% to 15%, to say they would choose the same setting.

Dissatisfied Not Making Big Changes

Those who were dissatisfied and said they would not choose nursing again were asked what they might do in the next 3 years to address their frustration.

Small numbers said they’d choose a different career path within nursing, retire earlier, reduce their hours, leave nursing to pursue other jobs, or seek other professional training. About a quarter to almost a half said they would not pursue any of those options.

Survey participants commented that nursing paid decently, offered job security, and that it might be too expensive or time-consuming to make a big career change at this point in their life.

APRNs were less likely than RNs and LPNs to say that they planned to act. Not surprisingly, similarly, the survey found that the higher the nurse’s educational level, the less likely the nurse was to plan a career change within 3 years.

When asked what they might do if they left nursing, some respondents said they’d start their own business, pursue an MBA, or go to physical therapy, dental, or medical school.

The desire to become a physician did not necessarily reflect badly on nursing as a career, said one respondent. “I am not sorry about my nursing career, which has been rich and fulfilling, but if I had to do it over again, I would pursue medicine as a career,” the nurse commented.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


    1. Right, Lois. Your book, Caring Lessons, shows the variety and opportunities nursing provides. I recommend this book to new and seasoned nurses alike plus non-nurses that wonder what we nurses really do!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I stumbled into nursing unexpectedly, though my mom had always thought I would be a great nurse. Engineering would have been my other choice, but honestly there’s a lot about nursing that’s like engineering. The best move I made was working at a large academic medical center. I have had so many different opportunities and gained a ton of experience inpatient and outpatient and in speciality roles. Nursing isn’t just answering a call light or a telephone: It’s critical thinking, compassion and care. If you feel stuck in a role, then stretch a little and find another one.

    Liked by 1 person

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