Becoming a Nurse: Remembering the Nurse Within

I didn’t really want to be a nurse. In fact, I used to curse my mother for pushing me towards an accelerated nursing program. I disliked the courses and struggled through Chemistry, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology.

While I didn’t exactly know ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’, the four women who stood in the living room of my senior year college apartment sure filled in the blanks for me.

Even though I despised hospitals and felt totally uncomfortable around sick people, my mother, two new roommates and one of their moms (a nursing instructor at my university) planned my entire life for me that hot and humid move-in day.

Well, what does Elizabeth want to do when she finishes college?” Cindy’s mom asked me (or was it that she asked my mom?).

She doesn’t know yet,” my mother answered in quick exasperation before I could even offer my ideas of graduate school for a master’s degree in psychology.

I’ve got an idea! She could do the accelerated nursing program. She already has most of her credits and there are just a few requirements she’d have to catch up on. If she is so far ahead right now- she could just jump right in and be done in no time.”

And she could be a psychiatric nurse. Since she’s going to have a psych degree, then that’s the type of nurse she will be,” my other roommate chimed in.

For the next 15 minutes or so (what felt like a painful eternity to me), the four of them discussed exactly how I would get it done. My roommates, both of whom were on target to graduate that May from the traditional nursing program, were extremely helpful in designing the rest of my life for me.

Well there you have it- how I became a nurse.

My story might be viewed as the exception to the rule since I’ve heard that so many nurses have felt ‘called’ into our profession. My work as a podcast host of the Your Next Shift Nursing Career show has led me to ask dozens of nurses: “Why is it that you became a nurse?”

  • I got really sick when I was in grammar school and I’ll never forget the nurse who took care of me. I knew from that day on I wanted to be just like her.”
  • I hurt myself at summer camp and this beautiful angel came to my rescue. I now realize she was a nurse and I knew I wanted to help other people, just as she helped me.”

I hear many answers, similar to those above. From having a sick family member and watching the compassionate nurse ease their pain, to the honor that comes with having nearly every relative they can remember work as a nurse and just knowing that nursing was the professional course they too, would take. Nurses often answer a ‘calling’; knowing from a very early age that this is what they’re meant to do.

So then why is the profession of nursing in such turmoil? How come we have an army of caregivers who struggle to care for themselves? Why do so many nurses, good nurses- no, great nurses- want to leave the bedside? What is it about being a nurse that makes it so challenging?

Here’s one tool you can use to re-energize your nursing career. My business coach calls this the ‘big money why’ exercise. She has us reflect on why we went into business for ourselves. She has us write down all of the reasons we want to earn income by being in business for ourselves. She encourages us to get to the reasons beneath the reasons.

That’s what I invite you to do here today. Get to your ‘big why’.

  • Why did you want to become a nurse in the first place?
  • What was the reason you went to nursing school?
  • How come you wanted to call yourself a professional nurse?

When we can reconnect with the reasons beneath the reasons- we can awaken and inspire the nurse within.

How come you became a nurse? What were your reasons for going into the nursing profession? Be sure to tweet me @ElizabethScala to let me know. Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala

Keynote speaker and bestselling author, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week ‘Art of Nursing’ program, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and a playful pit bull.