Top 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Nurse
By Moira K. McGhee, Contributor
Advantages and disadvantages exist in every field, but in healthcare, they become deciding factors in whether nursing is right for you. While advantages of being a nurse far outweigh the drawbacks, before you choose this career path, realize there are also distinct disadvantages of being a nurse. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of being a nurse carefully to ensure you can physically and emotionally handle whatever is thrown at you.
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5 advantages of being a nurse
Becoming a nurse provides an exciting opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. A career in nursing is also very rewarding on both a clinical and emotional level. Here are five wonderful advantages of being a nurse.
1. Saving a life
What could be more rewarding then saving lives? Knowing you’re helping people and saving lives can be the most gratifying and rewarding aspects of the job, according to Gap Medics, an organization that offers pre-nursing shadowing for high school students. They encourage would-be nurses by letting them know they will make a difference and there may be days when they literally save someone’s life.
Becca Koplowitz agrees that “the best thing about being a nurse is the satisfaction of knowing you've just helped save someone's life.” Koplowitz is a Nurse Advocate who works at Medical Scrubs Collection. She is also affiliated with Murse World, where they created a page dedicated to what male nurses love most about their jobs.
2. Always something new
Gap Medics also emphasizes that the work can be diverse and interesting because you’ll have the opportunity to work in various patient care areas, take care of all types of people and treat a variety of conditions.
“The scope of nursing is huge, and encompasses every facet of the human experience,” says Janet Katz, BSN, MPA and Nurse Supervisor at Broad Street Home Care in Wilmette, Illinois. “There is always something new to learn, which becomes a gift towards helping patients or clients move towards managing their health and their optimal recovery.”
3. Job security
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the biggest benefits of being a registered nurse is a project employment growth of 15 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is faster than any other occupation. This growth is also one of the top benefits of travel nursing, with jobs plentiful across the country.
4. Sense of pride
Nurses have earned the rating of “Most Trusted Profession” for 15 years straight, according to the 2016 Gallup poll. The nursing profession has long been a well-respected career, which can instill a deep sense of pride.
5. Hidden perks
Nurse advantages can include intangible benefits, such as warm hugs from appreciative family members or handmade thank you cards or gifts from children. Other perks can stem from National Nurse’s Week, according to Nick Angelis, MSN, CRNA, and author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School (And RN, PA, or Med School). “Being the face of healthcare, during Nurses Week, we get more (useless) gifts than anyone else in the hospital,” says Angelis. “Sorry, respiratory therapists —you can have one of my tote bags.”
5 disadvantages of being a nurse
When you’re considering becoming a nurse, realize that not every moment is exciting and not every patient encounter will be rewarding. There will be bad days and stressful situations to deal with. Here are five unfortunate disadvantages of being a nurse.
1. Being undervalued
“While nursing is one of the most trusted and loved professions, nurses are also one of the most undervalued and marginalized professionals in the healthcare industry,” explains Lolita Korneagay, RN, BSN, MBA and Founder of Nurse CEO. “Today's nurses are highly educated, and it's time that we are acknowledged for our exceptional leadership skills and business acumen.”Specific to anesthesia nursing, Angelis adds that “people assume I can't do anything without a physician. TV medical shows don’t show the stiff hierarchy of who actually does what jobs.”
2. Difficult patients
Being under appreciated by patients is a similar disadvantage. Not all patients want or outwardly appreciate your help and dedication to their health. Some patients are easy to work with, but others aren’t, and dealing with difficult or unpleasant patients and their families can be an everyday reality in the nursing profession. Luckily, many of your patients will be friendly and express their gratitude.
3. Red tape
Healthcare regulations and insurance companies striving to reduce their financial expenditures can add an extraordinary amount of red tape that nurses and physicians must wade through to provide patient care. “Dealing with the administrative and procedural overhang, whether from business or government reasons unrelated to care,” says Katz, “often holds up what nurses do best.”
4. Physical and emotional strain
Some days will be overwhelming and stressful on a physical and an emotional level. ECPI University points out that you may lose a patient you’ve grown fond of, which can take a major toll on you. Not every patient comes out of the hospital alive, and watching someone die, knowing there’s nothing left you can do, can be one of the toughest things you must endure as a nurse.
Physical demands can also be challenging, requiring you to lift, carry, push or pull heavy patients or equipment. “There’s a lot of physical strain,” adds Koplowitz.“But you know what? It’s good exercise!”
5. Dealing with the customer service aspect
The Patient Experience Journal argues that marketing that models patients as “traditional customers” is ill-conceived and doesn’t fit because healthcare isn’t like other businesses and patients aren’t like other customers.“Due to the history of nursing, I'm expected to act like this is a customer service job like being a waiter,” says Angelis. “Because of this, we hone skills of feigned graciousness, such as smiling without meaning it.”