Nursing Career Outlook: Is Nursing Just a Job?

Is nursing just a job or is it something more? Does a nursing degree provide a stable, secure career or is it for a higher purpose? Is it really a calling?

We are living in a time of rapid change that has a profound influence on how we think about our work, and how we make sense of who we are and what we do.  In the midst of all the daily tasks and demands, surely our hearts tell us that there is something unique that we can do to make a difference in the world, a special significant responsibility that, in the “big picture,” is important and gives our life purpose and meaning. For some, nursing is a satisfying profession in which one can synthesize complex concepts and draw on evidence based practice while caring for individuals and families with healthcare needs. For others, nursing is a calling, a vocation, giving them a framework for understanding their mission in life and living out their call: service to God through caring for others.

How do we know if we are called in nursing?  Some scholars suggest that we can determine our calling by asking and reflecting on five specific questions:  1) What do I do well?  2) What do I like to do? 3) How do I see the brokenness of the world? 4) What does my heart tell me to do? and 5) What is it that I must do because I can’t see myself doing anything else?   

Nursing involves skill, critical reasoning, judgment, compassion and respect for human life whether or not the nurse feels called to the profession. Is nursing a career, a calling or both? If you are a current nurse, feel free to share the attraction or “pull” you felt toward nursing or an education in nursing.  If you are a prospective nursing student, feel free to share your questions about nursing careers or potential nursing degree programs.

By Dr. Barbara J. White

Dean of the Division of Nursing and Sciences at Colorado Christian University’s College of Adult and Gradute Studies.

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