Without question, there are many pros and cons of a nursing career. If you enjoy helping people, different challenges every day, constant change, then nursing could be for you. Nursing is a tough and also very rewarding profession at the same time. The decisions you make while working can have a direct effect on a patient’s life and also their family’s. Below are a few pros and cons of a nursing career through the eyes of a registered nurse.

Pros of a Nursing Career

You will make a difference: You will make a difference being in the helping profession. You could save a life or just have an impact on everyday life and help someone transition back to living after a health challenge, a new diagnosis of a chronic illness or injury. Helping someone can have a great impact on your job satisfaction when looking at the pros of a nursing career.

You will have a career of lifelong learning: Nursing is a career that requires continuing education. You work in a dynamic environment where you will observe, palpate, interpret results, monitor and evaluate what you find. There is always new evidence-based practice guidelines to ensure you take the best care of the patient. If you have a curiosity for knowledge and desire to help this is the career for you.

Flexibility with nursing: Some nurses work full-time hours and some work shifts, such as two days on/two nights on then a few days off. If you like the flexibility of being on call or casual, you can work part-time and pick up shifts. Typically shifts in acute care are 8 hours or 12 hours.

There are many opportunities for advancement: Many new graduate nurses start their careers in acute care such as in the hospital to get a good bearing in general medicine, but there are many opportunities as you continue to practice. Nurses can work in the military, in case management or even as consultants where knowledge is of medicine is essential. You can study to become an advanced practice nurse or specialize in an area of interest; for example, an occupational health nurse ensures that employees are safe at work and the worksite is a healthy environment for them.

Cons of a Nursing Career

You will work long hours: Nurses can work long hours and may clock in overtime. Typically, shifts in the hospital are 12 hour shifts that start either during the day or at night. If your worksite is short staffed, you may be required to stay until a replacement can be found. Working long hours can affect your general health, your mental and physical health. You may need to work on holidays or during important events for your family which is one of the cons of a nursing career. The good news is you may be able to accrue extra time.

Shiftwork can be tiring: Working shifts means that you must quickly adjust your circadian rhythm from sleeping at night to during the day when you switch between night and day shifts. This can affect your quality of sleep. Nurses can be at risk for health issues such as depression, digestive issues and general fatigue. It is important to have a routine that will help keep you healthy when considering the pros and cons of a nursing career .

You may see patients who are difficult: No one can predict how a patient will act when ill. Patients can be very thankful for the impact you have on their lives, but they can also react differently. Patients can be aggressive when ill and may not thank you for your efforts. The most rewarding times are when a difficult patient trusts you after a few shifts together and begins to see progress in their health. You will be someone’s partner in health, and you have the privilege for caring for them when they are vulnerable.

Nursing is Not For Everyone

It may be difficult for those not in healthcare to understand your challenges when weighing the pros and cons of a nursing career. Sometimes nursing is overwhelming. It is not for the faint of heart. You will come in contact with bodily fluids, patients who may be aggressive and a busy work environment. It is important to maintain friendships with colleagues who can share and debrief your struggles. You may see patients die or have attempts to resuscitate someone that are unsuccessful. Many employers have support such as counsellors at work.

It’s All About Attitude

Overall, nursing is a dynamic and challenging career that has an everyday impact.  Your general outlook on life has a lot to do with how the job goes. If you can balance the pros and cons of a nursing career, you will have the fortitude and attitude to have a long and rewarding career as a nurse. Like they say “Its all about attitude”


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