“You want to be a nurse? You’re smart, why not become a doctor?” As a pre-nursing student currently fulfilling prerequisites for nursing school, this is something I’ve heard one too many times from one too many people. In response, I’ve written this article as a way of explaining why nursing called to me and so many others despite often being a thankless and under appreciated job.

1. It’s more than just bedpans and bed baths.

As an avid fan of the long running ABC show "Grey's Anatomy", I will be the first to tell you that while medical dramas are exciting, they are not all that realistic in terms of how hospitals actually run. While it correctly depicts how stressful the life of a physician can be, it misses the contributions of other hardworking healthcare professionals, specifically nurses. In reality, the nurse is the one on the front lines when it comes to the care of a patient. They are the eyes and ears for the physician, and are responsible for informing them of any changes in the patient's condition, even if they have to call them and wake them up in the middle of the night (which can be a nerve wracking task). The nurse handles the medications a patient needs, which also includes giving the correct doses at the correct times, whether it be an oral medication, or through injection or IV (intravenous) line. Keep in mind, a nurse usually has multiple patients at a time for which they hold this crucial responsibility, among others. The nurse is also ultimately responsible for the cleanliness and care of the patient, especially if there is no aide present to assist. Not to mention, everything must be charted accurately and in a timely manner, as the patient's chart is a legal document. While nursing definitely includes the bedpans and bed baths that you see on Grey's Anatomy, there is so much more to the responsibilities a nurse holds.

2. Nursing is a holistic experience

Holism is the idea that a system should be viewed as a whole, and not just separate parts or units. As a nurse, you are not only responsible for the care of the disease or condition, but for the person as a whole. I have worked as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) in a long term care facility, or nursing home, for about a year now, and have had the opportunity to work beside RNS (registered nurses) and LPNs (licensed practical nurses) in caring for multiple people. While a large part of my job has been helping the residents with their physical activities and cares, I have done so much more. I have comforted residents when they cried. I have watched people progress through the dementia process, and been there for them when they wake up in the middle of the night, scared, not knowing where they are. I have watched people recover and go home, as well as holding the hands of some who died and hugging their families as they said goodbye. As a nurse, I will continue to do this for my patients in the hopes that I am leaving a positive impact on their lives no matter what the outcome of their condition, injury, or disease process is.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

3. Nursing school is grueling.

This may not seem like a reason to go into a program to many, but I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. Yes, nursing school is challenging, just like medical school. I am choosing to pursue a BSN degree, which is a registered nurse (RN) with a bachelor’s degree. After I finish my prerequisite courses here at Hastings College, I will apply to a four year nursing program. After watching my own mom go through nursing school, as well as multiple coworkers, I know what I’m in for. I will constantly have my head in books studying for multiple exams, as well as putting in clinical hours at the hospital, working with patients and learning all the skills I will need. Before I am able to work as a nurse, I will have to pass my boards, AKA the NCLEX, which is a whole other ordeal. Is it med school? No. But that doesn’t make it any less important.

4. A chance to advance

My ultimate goal for the future is to become a nurse practitioner, which is a nurse with a higher degree of autonomy. I have the opportunity to attain a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD). I have the option to choose a field to specialize in among a wide variety of options. Some options include becoming a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Nurse Midwife (CNM), or even a specialization in psychiatric-mental health where I would be able to counsel and prescribe medication. There are so many opportunities to advance in this field, and I am eager to find out more of what sparks my interest throughout my career.

5. Nurses are Necessary

Nurses are the unsung heroes of healthcare, and I continue to look up to the ones who have inspired me to follow in their footsteps. Next time you see a nurse, remember to thank them for all they do. Even if they're coming at you with a needle.