Caring Is Not Enough to Be a Good Nurse

By NT Contributor on Tue, Jun 04, 2013

good nurseThe ability to engage in personal reflection, and to learn from it, is a desirable and healthy quality in any human being but much more in a good nurse. To be able to look into the “mirror” and to honestly assess your “self” is very difficult and often painful but has the potential to be incredibly rewarding. Choosing a career requires nothing less than stepping back from what you think you want, to stepping forward toward the mirror and reflecting on “why” you think you want it.

If you’re reading this, I imagine that you’re a registered nurse, in a nursing degree program, or quite possibly someone who is contemplating putting yourself through the rigors and expense of nursing school and preparing to commit to a lifetime of challenging professional nursing practice. But before you continue down the nursing path, I’d like you to stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself this question: Why do I want to be a professional Registered Nurse? If the answer is solely because you “care” about people, I strongly suggest that you consider a career change.

A lot of people care about others but it doesn’t make them nurses. The ability to “care” is not owned by the discipline of nursing, although sometimes you’d think so. If you also answer, “Because there’s good money in it,” you may be correct in the short term but it won’t carry you through the long haul. Doing something “for the money” becomes very old very quickly and is rarely, if ever, the reason someone stays in a job.

If however, while looking in the mirror, you find yourself saying things such as “I enjoy science and the opportunity to apply it to improving the human condition,” and “I understand that a hallmark of any profession is that it has a defined Code of Ethics by which to guide my nursing practice each and every day,” and “I want to contribute to a healthier community by applying evidence-based practice standards,” and “I want to be a professional who is committed to being emotionally strong so that I do not permit others to abuse me at any time and in any way,” and  “I like to share in the power of collaboration with other professional nurses so I am a member of my professional nursing organizations,” and “As I gain personal and professional wisdom by following the ethical and scientific path of the discipline of nursing, I will be able to act compassionately toward others,” then perhaps becoming a professional registered nurse is for you.

There is a reason that health care, in any of its myriad shapes or forms, cannot exist without the active participation of professional registered nurses. Good nurses are there in hospitals 24/7/365. We’re in clinics, churches, community centers, schools, mosques, Congress, State Legislatures, Board rooms, and countless other practice settings, and we bring nursing knowledge, wisdom and expertise to each and every patient encounter. This is more than “caring.” This is the willingness to apply personal strength, professionalism, commitment, education, ethics, and science by those who are able to look in the mirror and honestly answer the question, “Why do I want to be a nurse?”

What questions did you ask before becoming a member of the nursing community? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

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2 COMMENTS

signup itsfree 2 months ago
I'm in it for the money. And I do as little as possible. And we are perpetually understaffed, so the hospital ALWAYS gets what it deserves.

amie.RN2010 10 months ago
Being "caring" is not enough, but its essential. I wouldn't want a nurse who cannot describe himself/herself as "Caring". Compassion fatigue is already an issue in this profession. I understand what you are saying, but let's not veer too far outside the lines too. We are healthCARE professionals after all.