If you’re considering becoming a nurse, it’s critical to be aware of the pros and cons before entering nursing school.
This field can be gratifying with many perks, with some factors being attractive enough to make you choose it over another career path.
If you’re considering this field, be aware of every aspect it entails, so you can determine if it’s the right career path for your future.
Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of becoming a nurse!
Table of Contents
- Pros of Being a Nurse
- Cons of Being a Nurse
- Pros and Cons of Being a Nurse – Summary Table
- Should You Become a Nurse?
Pros of Being a Nurse
Many advantages exist to becoming a nurse, including:
1. Can Work Anywhere
Once you become a nurse, you can find a job anywhere in the U.S.
Since the nursing field is so versatile, you can work in nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, doctor’s offices, or other healthcare facilities.
You also have the opportunity to work as an instructor or consultant for new nurses or transition into hospital administration.
There’s no limit to the several ways you can effectively utilize your medical expertise.
Many nurses work in the field for several years and go into teaching roles at local colleges and universities to pass their knowledge to students.
2. Diversity of Opportunities
In addition to being able to work anywhere, nursing opens a variety of other doors.
For example, nurses can work on airplanes treating those who are being transported from one location to another.
They can administer skills on cruise ships that travel the world or get involved in the military to treat wounded soldiers.
Others opt to work at campsites and national parks to treat on-site injuries that may occur in the great outdoors.
Nurses can choose over 100 specialty areas, with the most unconventional being travel, informatics, holistic, and forensic nursing, so the options are varied and diverse.
3. Excellent Earning Potential
As nurses continue to be in high demand worldwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a massive 15% growth to 2026, significantly faster than most other occupations.
Currently, a nurse’s median annual salary is around $65,000, with more significant wages in urban areas.
Salaries can skyrocket when adding over time, which is typical within this profession.
It’s common for those in the nursing field to crack $100,000 per year.
4. Flexible Work Schedules
Nursing has a large amount of flexibility, depending on your work location and specialty.
You typically have the option of working full-time, part-time, or on-call.
With three rotating 12-hour shifts per week, having four consecutive days off is excellent for those who don’t mind working long days.
This can allow for more time with friends and family, to take mini-vacations, or relax and decompress for a few days each week.
5. Helping Patients
The most apparent advantage to becoming a nurse is helping others get well or saving lives.
Nurses play a considerable role in shaping the wellness and health of patients, families, and the local community.
This is the main reason most opt to enter the nursing and medical field.
6. Highly Trusted Profession
Regarding ethical standards, the nursing profession has maintained the top spot for the past 19 years in the Gallup Poll.
This means that those surveyed see nurses as having high ethical standards and trust the diagnosis, treatment plans, and information provided by these medical professionals.
Trust is critical, especially when life and death decisions need to be made.
7. Never Be Bored
Boredom is not a word in the nursing language.
Every day brings new challenges, opportunities, and learning experiences that will help improve your craft for decades.
You will treat many patients for various reasons for seeking medical care, ranging from illness to injuries.
This allows you to become incredibly well-rounded and know how to deal with different situations that will treat patients back to health.
8. No Need to Buy Work Clothes
While this is a secondary advantage and not one that most candidates consider, it still complements the other pros.
For example, as a nurse, you need to wear scrubs to work provided by the hospital or medical office.
This means you won’t have to go shopping for professional business attire, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Also, getting ready for work only takes a few minutes since you can throw on scrubs, slip on your comfortable shoes, and be prepared for the day!
Cons of Being a Nurse
While there are excellent perks to becoming a nurse, it’s essential to understand the drawbacks to weigh the pros against the cons effectively.
1. Can Have High Stress
Depending on your field, being a nurse can have a high-stress level in addition to lacking downtime while on the job; nurses must think quickly and critically in life-or-death situations while maintaining composure when working with complex families and patients.
2. Contact with Hazardous Substances
As a nurse, you could be in regular contact with hazardous substances.
Medical offices and hospitals have procedures, precautions, and the proper equipment to minimize risk, but it’s still possible to be exposed to different chemicals or other hazardous compounds.
Some of these substances were designed to be harmful to kill bacteria but can also damage your skin or make you sick.
3. Degree is Required
To become a nurse, you must earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, a two-to-four-year commitment post-high school.
When determining if you want to be a nurse, the first step is understanding the degree you wish to pursue.
You must be determined, and an initiative-taker since completing a degree is required.
Therefore, if you’re not ready to make the time and financial commitment toward your education, there are better paths than becoming a nurse.
4. Emotional Burnout
Nurses see the worst human suffering imaginable, which can take an incredible emotional toll.
Think of the nurse who must treat an accident victim or care for a child battling cancer.
In hospitals, nurses see more deaths than they can count, with every situation impacting them differently.
The way to overcome emotional burnout is to seek the proper support and counseling, which most hospitals offer.
5. Exposure to Diseases and Viruses
Although there are numerous precautions to protect medical staff against diseases, viruses, and germs, there’s always a risk of contracting and bringing it home to your family and friends.
The most extreme examples of exposure include getting splashed by bodily fluid in the eyes or accidentally being stuck by a needle with a blood-borne illness.
Healthcare facilities have testing and cleansing procedures to minimize the risk in these situations, but it still occurs.
6. Long Hours
Most hospital nurses work 12-hour shifts with the potential for overtime if it’s a busy day and there’s a lot of reporting.
Therefore, you may be putting in 15-hour days which can take a physical and mental toll.
The emotional stress of pain, death, and dealing with difficult patients and families over a 12-plus hour day can be a significant challenge.
7. Physical Demands
Back injuries and foot problems are common in the medical field, especially those on their feet all day in hospitals.
You also will be required to move and lift patients regularly, so having a robust and comfortable pair of shoes can reduce foot problems with proper exercise and stretching before and after shifts to reduce back injury risks.
8. Unconventional Schedule
Although you will enjoy a flexible schedule, you will work unconventional shifts such as early mornings, nights, or evenings when starting.
However, working in a specialty area or a doctor’s office will only likely need to work business hours.
In some hospitals, nurses must rotate between day and night shifts, which can negatively impact your personal life, sleep schedule, and mental health.
Shift work is commonly problematic because it’s challenging to develop a routine.
One study uncovered that those working the overnight shift who sleep during the day are not receiving restful sleep.
Another study determined that weight gain was typical in those who work the night shift.
Additionally, be prepared to work weekends or holidays.
This is a standard part of being a nurse that even the most senior nurses endure, which can be frustrating when you want to spend time with family and friends.
This also means that family and friends can only sometimes plan a get-together when you are free due to varying schedules, and you may also need that time to sleep and decompress.
Pros and Cons of Being a Nurse – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Nurse||Cons of Being a Nurse|
|1. Can Work Anywhere||1. Can Have High Stress|
|2. Diversity of Opportunities||2. Contact with Hazardous Substances|
|3. Excellent Earning Potential||3. Degree is Required|
|4. Flexible Work Schedules||4. Emotional Burnout|
|5. Helping Patients||5. Exposure to Diseases and Viruses|
|6. Highly Trusted Profession||6. Long Hours|
|7. Never Be Bored||7. Physical Demands|
|8. No Need to Buy Work Clothes||8. Unconventional Schedule|
Should You Become a Nurse?
The decision to become a nurse can be difficult when weighing the pros and cons.
However, if you enjoy helping people, have a strong work ethic, and the thought of sitting in an office in front of a computer all day detests you, then going to work every day won’t feel like work.
While you will have an unconventional schedule with long hours, emotional distress, and high physical demands, you only work three days per week, with four days off.
Also, while a degree is required, most skilled positions require some training, and the more education you earn, the better skills you develop, the more money you make, and the more opportunities present themselves.
When making this decision, always remember that every job has pros and cons, even hitting the lottery and not working at all!