Patients, colleagues and friends have all asked the question. Why nursing? What made me choose this career from all the others? The simple answer is that I’ve always been interested in health, I’ve constantly been told I have a caring personality and I like helping people. Nursing just seemed like the right fit for me. However, as I near the end of my third and final year of nursing school, my answer to this question now is different to what it was two years ago.
It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I decided that nursing could be a potential career for me. In fact, I still wasn’t fully convinced that it was something I wanted to do. I had never spent enough time in hospital to gain a full understanding of the role of a registered nurse. I certainly didn’t know of all the other roles nurses have outside the hospital either. I was just going by what I had seen on TV shows at this point. Instead of going straight into nursing, I spent a year at university. I had a crack at a course called first year health sciences which is basically the way into medicine, dentistry or physiotherapy. This course was notoriously difficult. I just wanted to challenge myself. I definitely wasn’t aiming for med school, if I did do well I would have considered physiotherapy. I ended up failing the chemistry paper by 4% meaning I could not continue with the course. I did a few other uni papers to complete the year though. Although I didn’t end up passing that year, I don’t regret it. This first year of uni gave me the opportunity to really excel in my first year of nursing. I picked up study skills and a work ethic which I felt high school had not taught me.
After my first year of uni it was finally time to decide whether I would actually do nursing. There weren’t really any other options which interested me at the time, so I went for it. I was hesitant at first mostly because I knew very little of the role of the nurse, but another major concern was the lack of males in the profession. As of 2016/17 only 9% of New Zealand’s nursing workforce were male (New Zealand Nursing Council, 2018). To be honest, I did worry what my friends would think at the time. I have had many negative comments in the form of jokes from male peers about nursing, but I managed to brush them aside and push on with this career choice as I just had a gut feeling that maybe this would be my thing.
I’m now halfway through my last year of nursing school. It has been hard. So hard. The work can be tough, but it is achievable. I tend to do well with the theory, not so much on practical, but I manage. The one thought I had which weighed me down through my two and a half years was whether coming into nursing was the right decision. It has been a roller coaster of emotions. There are days where I’m one hundred percent convinced that this is my calling, but other days I dread it and want to chuck it all in. It can all depend on what placement I’m on or what I’m learning at the time. For example, I was almost certain that after my first couple of days at a hospital level aged care facility that I was going to walk right out of there. Come to third year and I have just completed a primary health project where we had to identify a health problem within a community and produce a health promotion resource. This area of nursing is what interests me and gets me excited. Some areas ignite my passion, other areas douse it out with a big bucket of cold water. That’s the thing about nursing. There are so many different directions to go with this career. I just too often get tunnel vision and think that because I’m doing a whole block of learning on pregnancy and childbirth that I will end up as a nurse on the maternity ward.
I’m still trying to decide what way I want to go with nursing. It’s a big decision to make. But over my three years I’m now beginning to understand that there is a career for me with nursing. I realize that I have chosen nursing because I believe good health and well-being is a right for everyone. This is something I wish to fight and advocate for. I have also realised that the feeling of someone thanking you for your care is unlike any other feeling in the world. It brings you a sense of satisfaction and pride because you know in that moment that you have made a direct and positive impact on that person’s life. It is a feeling I wish to continue having throughout my career, wherever it may take me.
Nursing Council of New Zealand. 2018. The New Zealand nursing workforce. Retrieved from http://www.nursingcouncil.org.nz/content/download/1883/8389/file/J002605-NCNZ-Workforce%20Document%202016-17%20WEB.pdf