Why Aren’t We Telling Our Kids (Or Ourselves) To Become Nurses

By on November 22, 2012

Anybody can take pride in their work, but in the medical profession there is a special kind of pride that comes from knowing you have healed pain and saved lives. Because of this, kids across the country talk starry-eyed about being doctors when they’re grown up and some teenagers carry on this dream by working hard to get the grades to actually realize their dream. Yet not only doctors work in hospitals, and increasingly the job that nurses do is being forgotten about because we aren’t telling children and young people that it’s a job to which they can aspire.

There are many reasons why nursing is a great profession, not just because it’s admirable but also because it has concrete benefits. Here is our quick guide to the nurse/doctor dichotomy and why we should be telling our children and ourselves that nursing is a great profession.

The jobs market
There are thousands of students who every year compete for places in medical school, and because of this the jobs market for doctors is tighter than you’d think. Drawn in by promises of high wages and the chance to do good, many in recent years have been disappointed with the reality of a sub-par job that involves less money and less patient contact than they wanted (if they can find a job at all).

The jobs market is a completely different ballgame for nursing: it’s vibrant, dynamic and there are opportunities for anybody who is willing to or needs to be flexible. Nurses are constantly in demand and because of this they tend to have much more choice when it comes down to where and how much they want to work.

Gender politics
When asked to picture a stereotypical doctor and nurse, the gender of each usually comes out as male for the former and female for the latter. Some may say this is an innocuous byproduct of olden times were doctors traditionally were male and nurses female, but this seemingly innocent assumption can actually have a massive negative impact on people applying for jobs.

Many men are strongly put off applying for nursing jobs as it is seen as a distinctly feminine profession, which is a true shame because many men have the skills required to become nurses but are wary of putting them to the test. Work needs to be done to change this stereotype, not just by telling our daughters to work hard to become doctors but also by telling our sons that they should be so lucky as to call themselves nurses.

The reality of schooling
People always want to aim high and be the best, and because of this many who want to go into medicine choose to become doctors because it is seen as the ‘best’ and ‘smartest’ option. This greatly demeans the jobs of nurses who need less schooling for their jobs but still must work incredibly hard and keep their minds sharp for the job.

It is easy to stereotype nurses and not clever enough to be doctors and doctors as not hardworking enough to be nurses, so one shouldn’t fall into that trap when comparing medical jobs. However the reality of schooling does allow for some questions to be raised. Final salaries might be higher for doctors, but they also must go through more years of school and training that many simply cannot afford or not be able to do. In this way, nursing has a fiscal benefit because less years training means more years working and earning cash.

Flexibility
The problem with working in the higher echelons of medicine is that you’re locked-in: doctors often have little say over their hours and must work day and night with little flexibility. Nurses also must work long and tiring shifts, but they have a flexibility that simply doesn’t exist on the other side of the aisle. Nurses have choices between day and night shifts and working short or long hours, which is great for people with families or different responsibilities. On top of that, they have more room in negotiating short or long contracts. Many nurses work as traveling nurses, moving across the country and going where their skills are needed. This is great not only because it opens up the world but also because nurses have so much more room to be flexible with their lives while still doing a job they love.

This is a guest post by Victoria Abrams. Victoria currently represents Travel Nurse across America providing the most complex services for traveling healthcare professionals among the online travel nurse agencies.

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