Feb 07, 2019

“It’s Who I Am”: Nurses Say Why They Chose the Field

Fill in the blank: “I am a nurse because _____….”

That was the opening we gave to nurses who follow us on Facebook. We also asked a closely intertwined question: “Nursing is a high-impact calling. Why did you decide to be a nurse?” a few months earlier.

If you’re itching to respond, it’s not too late (comment below!). But first read some of the inspirational, thought-provoking, and witty answers that came from nurses by the hundreds.

By far the largest sentiments expressed in response to both were simple and heartfelt. “It’s a calling” and “I love to help people,” wrote many, including at least one person who learned that on the job: “I didn’t know then why I became a nurse, but now, without a doubt, I know why. Nursing is life and people. My job and how I delivered it was a reflection of my true self. I got to know myself. I love ❤ nursing!”

Families also played a large role in propelling people toward nursing, and not just as role models—though there were plenty of grandmothers and aunts who inspired children to follow in their footsteps. But family influence played out in other ways. A sampling:

  • “I finally went to nursing school because of a hospice nurse that took care of my dad in 2005! She was amazing and I hope I can be half the nurse she was.”
  • “As a child my grandmother was a paraplegic. I watched as my aunt & grandfather cared for her and as I grew I participated in her care. It just seemed natural to become a nurse.”
  • “Took care of my mom dying of breast cancer when I was a teenager.”
  • “My father was a country doctor, and I went with him on house calls as a little child, and learned to help care for the sick. Then I was a nurse’s aide when I was in high school and went to nurses training when I was 17. I had to wait until I turned 21 to get my license.”

Lots of nurses wrote of their love for the many facets of their jobs:

  • “I have a keen interest in science, loads of compassion and empathy, and a deep desire to help people. I have been an RN for 40 years. … Started nursing school at age 39 ….I loved loved loved it. Still do. Helping people feel better. Holding someone’s hand as they take their last breath. Giving people good news. Giving people bad news. I… made myself a promise every day at work to get someone to smile. I loved the critical-thinking process, the challenge of learning new things, and testing my knowledge on a daily basis. Can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”
  • “I got to use my brain, my interpersonal skills, work with amazing people. learn, and be touched by humanity. What a gift it’s been.”
  • “I learned early on that my patients gave back to me as much as I gave them and fulfilled my reason for being a nurse.”
  • “There is so much variety in nursing, unlimited opportunity to learn new skills and great satisfaction from helping others. I have worked labor and delivery, staff development, emergency department, administration, blood bank. Nursing took me to a hospital serving Native Americans from the Four Corners and to an Air Force hospital in Saudi Arabia, with the cultural experiences that enriched my life. Nursing is a rewarding profession.”

Seeded throughout the responses were the numerous ways in which nurses help. How? Let us count:

  • “When there are no more medications or machines or surgeries I can stretch out my hand and say ‘hang on I’ve got you.’”
  • “I love talking to my patients and family members about how they can improve their lives and manage their disease/conditions.”
  • “We touch people from the beginning of life to the end. Being a nurse is a privilege and we make a difference.”
  • “It’s a wonderful job where you offer your services mixed with compassion.”

There were witty answers too, to the question about why people became nurses, such as this wordless response:


And these:

  • “I like stuff other people find gross.”
  • “I like spending weekends and holidays with my friends…..at work!!!”

Be the comments witty or wise, observations about the state of humanity or of the profession, echoing throughout the threads time and time again was one sentiment all agreed with:

“Once a nurse, always a nurse.”

Follow links to see all responses:

Why did you decide to be a nurse?





I am a nurse because_______ …