Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Calling or Just a Job?

Have you ever had a really crappy shift where you couldn't find a vein if it slapped you in the face, the patients just get sicker, the pyxis had none of the meds you needed, the lab took hours and hours for stat orders, the docs were grouchy, etc. Yeah. I had one of those a few days ago. Days like this make me question if I am just too lousy a nurse to be in this profession even though I usually love it so much.

With apologies to my atheist friends, I truly believe God/Higher Power/Universe always knows how to make up for this garbage kind of day. The next shift I had some of the sweetest patients. The docs were not troublemakers. The lab was super quick with results. And the pyxis was well stocked with all the necessities. I actually felt semi competent. I had a patient's mother thank me for being a blessing to their family. Wow :)
One thing that really struck me was when a patient's daughter, a hospice nurse, told me she was thankful that her mother had gotten a nurse for whom nursing was a "calling" not just a job.

I really appreciated that comment, but it made me wonder. What is the difference between a calling and just a job? I have wanted to be a nurse since I was a child, but know many nurses who went to nursing school to please parents, to retrain after their factory job went away, or to have a way out of a bad marriage. They are excellent nurses. I certainly enjoy getting a paycheck. I don't think I would want to be a nurse for free. I do get a deep personal satisfaction when I can make a difference in someone's life or even just provide some comfort when it is needed.  What is nursing to you, a calling or just a job?


  1. I don't know if the calling thing factors in. Because honestly, if someone is.in it because they have to be a nurse at all costs, I think they ate at great.risk to hate their jobs. I think people are good nurses because of who they are as people. They take satisfaction from a job well done, and in helping someone in need. Those benefits outweigh the downsides.

    Everyone has crappy shifts like yours the other night. I think it has very little to do with your competence. I think it was probably just a bad day. :-)

  2. Can it be both? I love being a nurturer and the satisfaction of a positive outcome, but I loath the nursing job and to a certain extent the profession.

  3. I have only been a nurse for a short while (I received my license on Father's Day of this year) but to me this "job" is a calling.

    I know the feeling about the truely sh** filled days. The ones that never seem to end. But then I see the look in my patient's eyes and I know that even if I haven't been able to take their pain away I have made an impact, and that - that makes my day,week,month, you name it!

  4. Started out as a calling, some days it's a job, but I wouldn't keep the job without the calling behind it. It's too hard.