Why We Became Nurses

Written By: Melody Brackenbury, RN

Although the origins of nursing predate the mid-19th century, the history of professional nursing traditionally begins with Florence Nightingale. Nightingale, the well-educated daughter of wealthy British parents, defied social conventions and decided to become a nurse. The nursing of strangers, either in hospitals or their homes, was not seen as a respectable career for well-bred ladies. In a radical departure from these views, Nightingale believed that well-educated women, using scientific principles and informed education about healthy lifestyles, could dramatically improve the care of sick patients. Moreover, she felt that nursing provided an ideal independent calling full of intellectual and social freedom for women with few other career options.

Today Nursing is the largest, the most diverse, and one of the most respected of all the health care professions in the world! When someone finds out that you’re a nurse, it seems as though they go on “auto” appreciation, and for a good reason, nursing is often paired with sacrifice, selflessness, and stress. So why did we become, and stay, nurses?

Caring for others brings purpose. This is the reason why we get up every day. It’s why we go back to work after a tough shift. Our purpose is to care for others and positively impact someone’s life. This is the heart of nursing, and it’s our calling.

There is no more extraordinary privilege than to be with people at the best and worst times of their lives. Nurses are with people on their best days: births, hearing they are cancer-free or recovering from a catastrophic illness. But they’re also there for people on their worst days. It’s a privilege to experience these intimate situations with people and remember that we are here because of those who trust us with their care.

We are learning that communicating just by being present is one of the most effective forms of loving another human being. There is a quiet spirit in what we do; it’s sometimes hard to appreciate it because working in a chaotic environment is loud, but it’s there just under the surface. The act of holding someone’s hand, stroking a forehead, smiling with our eyes behind our masks. We speak volumes with our calmness in the most chaotic situation, reassuring people that we are here and that they are not alone.

Nursing gives us the strength to fight for what is right. Doing what is right is often the most challenging road. We are the voice for our residents, so they have access to quality care. We advocate for the nursing profession, supporting change to ensure safe work environments, adequate staffing, and education. Hence, every person receives the highest quality care informed by the best available evidence.

Nursing teaches us the value of life. Living is not about the quantity of time we have on this earth; instead, it is about the quality of time and what we do with it. Death is inevitable, and it is a poignant reminder that life is fragile. So how are we spending our limited days? Instead of just accumulating stuff, we enjoy quality time with our friends and family in our personal lives. Instead of focusing on tasks in our professional lives, we help people die peacefully and pain-free, surrounded by their loved ones with a nurse at their side.

This nurse’s week, let’s not forget why we became nurses…

In the face of all the challenges that nursing provides, it’s easy to lose sight of why we went into the nursing profession in the first place. Remember, we are the one constant in our resident’s and family’s life – we value their rights and needs, inspire their trust, and care for them in the most challenging circumstances. Nursing in its purest form is love.

Happy Nurses’ Week!


D'Antonio, P. (n.d.). Let’s not forget why we love nursing. britannica. Retrieved from www.britannica.com/science/nursing

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Chayna Broome Graduated from Norquest College Practical
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