Why Did You Become A Nurse?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


Or, alternately, “Why do you want to be a nurse?”

This is one of those ‘character’ entrance questions most of us get when we apply to nursing school. I’m pretty sure every school has some version of it. Some have you answer the question on paper, while others will ask you a version of this question during that ‘fateful’ interview. You know, that pressure cooker of an interview in front of ‘the panel’. Either way, the question tries to dig deep into the ‘why’ you are pursuing a nursing career.

I thought I’d share my story.

Rewind 10 years (approximately). I, like the rest of society (still does), thought nurses were poop scoopers and pill pushers. Why in the world would I want to do THAT for a living?! I was already in the health care field, but I just wasn’t happy – or should I say it wasn’t ‘it’ for me. I felt I wanted more from a career, and to simply do more. I had heard rumors that nursing was more than meets the eye, but I unfortunately did not know any nurses that I could talk with to get that kind of information.

As ‘fate’ would have it, I suffered a pretty serious injury that landed me in the hospital for a couple days. The care I received during those two days did not differ in the least bit. My plan of care, diagnosis and treatment plan was identical for those two days. Yet, my experiences as a patient during those two days were complete opposites.

Day 1 with my assigned nurse (let’s call her nurse A) was rather miserable (I’m being kind with my description). She was non-existent most times. When I asked for assistance, it seemed as if it took hours to at least answer my calls. When she did bedside care, it seemed as if she was ‘put off’ by me. I was taking up her time. She wanted to get in the room, do her thing, and get out as fast as possible.

Day 1 = Nurse A did not help my situation at all.

Day 2 with my assigned nurse (let’s call him Nurse B) was amazingly refreshing. His presence was noticed. He was in my room more often, even if it was just to poke his head in to ‘check’ on things. He performed the same ‘duties’ as Nurse A from the previous day, but I was not miserable. I felt important enough that when I had a concern or called out for assistance I didn’t feel like a burden. When he was in the room with me, he gave me his undivided attention. I don’t think he knew anymore about my situation than Nurse A did, but he put me at ease.

Day 2 = Nurse B helped me feel better.

So, if you’ve paid attention to my grammar you’ll notice Nurse A was a female, and Nurse B was a male. I like to think there was some sort of divine intervention at work during my stay, since I’d been curious about men in nursing, but as I admitted earlier, I was just as ignorant as the rest.

During the end of Day 2 with Nurse B, he poked his head in one last time to ‘check’ on me. It was the end of his shift, so he was wrapping things up with me. When he asked if there was anything I needed, or did I have any questions, I jumped at the opportunity. I asked him about his job, men in nursing, and what he thinks of his career.

He spent almost an hour or more talking with me about the nursing career. He told me stories about his own experiences and his career choices. And he emphasized at the unlimited opportunities nursing has afforded him.

I went home from that hospital admission with this burning in my belly. I couldn’t stop thinking about my experience. I was in awe at how much of an impact the care of one nurse made on me. It didn’t matter if I got better, healed, or fixed whatever ailed me. What Nurse B provided for me was immeasurable, intangible, and indescribable, yet it was the most important part of my care.

That was when I realized I wanted to do that. I wanted to be that.

I too wanted to impact lives.

The rest, as they say, is history. I continue to impact lives every day as a nurse, and I don’t foresee any end in sight.

So what about you? Share your thoughts on why you became a nurse in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. I went to “Nursing school” in a hospital training school in 1962 – 65. At that time, unless your family had a lot of available money, you had only a few choices: secretary, teacher, “hair dresser” or nursing. The decision was made easier by the fact of my sister was a nurse from the same nursing school. So, after graduation from high school, off I went. Living in the nurses residence was a gift. Living with other nurses helped you to encourage each other, reach out to them, ask for help – if needed and more!! We all traveled in our time capsule, learning from our instructors, some better remembered than others. My favorite, Katherine J. Bordicks (She wrote a book, “Patterns of Shock”. It was the first book that addressed septic shock.) lead us with a firm, but loving hand. As I traveled through life I found that I had been giving many gifts which made the journey much easier. Over the years I have nursed under many circumstances. All in all, coming from my first job, in a small community in northern Michigan (at $2.02/hr) to my last position as a hospice nurse. I have been able to learn and share my gift! The gift allowed me to practice in a very special way. I believe that God has gifted me with the ability to (mostly) allow each person I cared for to feel that they were the only patient I had. I remember several years ago that one patient asked, “Is it o.k. to call you Flo?” What higher complement can you get!!??

  2. I don’t know if the profession ended up choosing me or if I chose it. When I was 10 my adopted Mom became ill & ended up sadly dying. I kinda thought I’d like to be a nurse or a teacher since I loved my kindergarten teacher. So as fate would have it- I became a nurse and got my BSN & now 37 years later I’m an AOD (administrator on duty) at a 380 plus bed hospital. Even though I’ve not been at the “bedside” for over 10 years I can’t not go in and care for those in need. I work nights and know that that shift is for me as I feel God has me go on my rounds where there is an issue/problem that I can help. So I’m still thankful after 37 years to be a nurse!

  3. I spent more than 20 years working at “jobs”. I say jobs, because not one of them was fulfilling, not one was the thing that I wanted to do and I really hated “going to work”. I wanted to go to medical school, but in the 1960’s with two children and a wife to support it seemed impossible. At a bowling event from my job, a friend and coworker suffered a fatal heart attack, I tried to do CPR, but didn’t have the training to do it correctly (but not one person there tried to help, they stood and watched). I took CPR training, because what bothered me wasn’t that my friend died, but that I couldn’t help him. A year or two later a friends father suffered a fatal heart attack at work. I performed CPR, clearing his airway after he vomited. He passed, but at least I tried, again, no one helped, but I wasn’t so broken up that I wanted to go home from work, just upset that I didn’t have the knowledge to help him. I went home that night and told my wife that I was going to become a Para-medic, she told me why don’t you go to nursing school instead. The short story is I’ve been an RN for over 30 years, I hold an MSN in nursing education, I’ve worked in Cardiology, ICU, Home Health Care, and taught Clinical Nursing for 3 different schools. Today I’m retired from clinical nursing but still work part time for a Medicare Home Health Agency as their QA nurse.
    My only regret is I left clinical nursing to do management. I wish that the NP an option when I was in graduate school.
    Since I’ve retired, I’ve had a triple bypass and the resection of a thoracic-abdominal aortic aneurysm, and I’m still here, thanks to some wonderful doctors and many great ICU and Staff Nurses! Having been now on both sides of the bed, I can really appreciate how good nursing care effects a patients outcomes!

  4. I became a nurse because I enjoy taking care of people and I love learning. Multiple family members and friends have been sick or hurt, and prior to becoming a nurse said that I took such good care of them, that I should do it professionally. Now, I’m an ER nurse and loving it! Every day I learn something new or improve a skill. its been nearly three years since I graduated from nursing school and it has changed my life. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I’m doing what I was meant to do. If I woke up tomorrow and found myself independently wealthy, I would still be a nurse because I love it.

  5. I believe that being a nurse is a calling, at least it should be. When I was very young, around 4, my dad used to take me to the coal mine where he worked and let me hang out with the nurse. Even now 50 years later I can still remember the smell, her uniform, the miners coming in for care. She used to let me put band aids on or hand her things, she told me what she was doing, the miners called me nurse?. I knew from that time I wanted to be a nurse, I was going to be there when people need help, a hand or just an ear. I’ve been out of school 32 years and have not for one day regretted my choice.

  6. I think that nursing is a calling. I knew in the 5th grade that I wanted to be a nurse. I think nurse A should have found a new job. No one needs that type of nurse. I started out on a farm in Montana, there were 6 kids in my family. I particle on every one , family , farm animals, and any wild animals that came my way. After high school graduation I went of to nursing school to get my LVN. I graduated and worked at one of the two hospitals in Havre Montana. I love the work and went on years later to get my RN and work in a clinic for many years. I became a supervisor and learn that management is just as much work if you are going to be good at it. I loved my staff as if they were my family. I retired recently and left them. I had thyroid cancer and had to go to the hospital. I have to say I had a young lady that went above and beyond as an MA. So they are still out there and the need is still there. I leave you with this , nursing comes from the heart, no amount of money can make a good nurse. It is love for people who are sick and need you and it is a gift.

    • I have been a Nurse over 20 years. Nursing becomes part of who you are and not just a job. Two of the most important things that happen to a person in life: You are born and then pass away. When you are with someone elderly and they are at the end of life: no one left but you the Nurse. Holding their hand and being with them at that moment is a privilege. Tired eyes, frail grasp, last breath and then stillness. That all encompassing moment. Time not to forget , but to embrace and remember all that was and is.

      Frank Lomprez RN


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