nursing career, nursing journeyI’ve recently ran across several articles and nursing forum posts related to nurses having a “calling.” Something deep seated in their personality or their mind-set, a need or want to “help” others. Something altruistic to enter a career in nursing. The argument that I’m seeing repeated over and over is that you “have to” or “should” have a need, want and desire to help others in order to be a good nurse.

I’m going to rant on this, but please do not send me hate mail. If you would like to have a respectful discussion, I’m open and willing to participate.

Confession: I never wanted or desired to be a nurse.

You may scream, What?

That’s right. I started my nursing career as a career choice and a JOB. There wasn’t any deep seated desire to make a difference in the world. I had no passion to “help” others and no“calling” from a higher power. Nursing to me was a stable career with attainable educational requirements, decent pay and job security. I consider myself an altruistic person but that was not my drive to become a nurse.

There are many that will immediately think I am a bad person or worse yet, a bad nurse for my decision to become a nurse as a means to provide myself and my family a decent lifestyle. To them, I say, “You’re wrong.”

I look at nursing as I would any other job or career that I could have chosen. I want do a good job. I need to perform well. I expect to be able to take a certain amount of pride in a job well done. These feelings are no different than if I had chosen to be a basket maker. If I were a basket maker, I would still want to do a good job, I would need to perform well and I would expect to be able to take a certain amount of pride in a job well done.

So, am I automatically a bad nurse because I chose nursing based on purely career and stability oriented reasons? Or is it possible that even though my reasons were not altruistic, I am still a good nurse, a patient care-giver and able to provide safe care with positive outcomes?

I want to hear your thoughts. Were your reasons to begin your journey in nursing career altruistic ones? Do you think it’s a requirement for someone entering the nursing profession to want to help people? Are you like me and see nursing as a career and a job to be performed to your best ability?