Caring Is Not Enough to Be a Good Nurse

By NT Contributor on Fri, Sep 26, 2014

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. You may be in a nursing degree program, or quite possibly someone who is contemplating putting yourself through the rigors and expense of nursing school. Maybe you're 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.

What Nursing Is Really All About

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”
  • “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”
  • “I want to contribute to a healthier community by applying evidence-based practice standards”
  • “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”
  • “I like to share in the power of collaboration with other professional nurses so I am a member of my professional nursing organizations”
  • “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.

But Where Are the Nurses?

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. 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!


Cynthia Schmer 5 months ago
the person statement is I am in it for the money- is a typical reason so many young people are in nursing- When they find out their Mothers are not there to help them or they realize that it takes hard work, dedication and a true understanding of what it takes daily to make your care make a difference in a person health no matter how big or small and to be blessed when someone says thank-you- then the reality of nursing hits home. I do hope that this person changes- we all have to retire and we need good dedicated nurses out there to replace us. So please note- we are waiting for you and what it takes to be succesful in this education of hard knocks, when it comes to tking care of patients and yes too ourselves.

Elaine A 5 months ago
Hmmm, To be a nurse is to "care" for one. That is one of the main problems in nursing today. When you don't care for someone it shows in the way you manage their care. I would not want to be a nurse who is self absorbed in what nursing can do for me but what I can do for the patient. There is other professionals who can look at scientific paths to improve the human condition. Nurses are not scientist.

signup itsfree 1 year 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.

Anonymous 5 months ago
Wow, I hope you are never in care of me or anyone in my family. You are what makes this profession weak! The facility being understaffed does not justify you doing as little as possible because there are lives at stake. Your not harming the hospital your harming the patients, and quite possibly you will screw up and loose your license. I hope you have another career possibility at your reach because you won't last long in this field!

amie.RN2010 2 years 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.