At some point, you are going to be asked the question and you had better have a solid, impressive answer. More importantly, you should know the answer for your own personal edification. If you cannot effectively express why you want to be a nurse, you cannot convince people you're the right person for their operations.

Overview of Nursing Industry

It's been called the world's largest industry, the single profession that continues to draw in the biggest groups of interested parties. Yet, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing says the U.S. is having difficulty filling a widening gap between qualified nurses and healthcare industry demands.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession's outlook is promising, expected to grow 16 percent between 2014 and 2024. Compared to most job sectors, that percentage is significantly faster than average and means almost a half million new nursing jobs. The Bureau believes this growth will be the result of an increase in chronic conditions, more interest in preventive care and an aging population in need of healthcare services.

In May 2014, the Bureau reported the median annual wage for a registered nurse was almost $65,000.

General Types of Nurses

One reason nurses are in such demand is that there are so many types of positions that require unique talents. Like doctors, nurses can specialize in a specific method of treatment or manage different ailments. In fact, the nursing industry has over 100 different job types.

Here is a small list of just some of the opportunities to be found in nursing:

  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Emergency Nurse
  • Trauma Nurse
  • OB-GYN Nurse
  • Dialysis Nurse
  • Case Management Nurse
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Forensic Nurse
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Home Care Nurse
  • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Operating Room Nurse
  • Oncology registered nurse

Knowing your field and understanding your intent will go a long way to asking that inevitable question: Why do you want to be a nurse?

Reasons to Go into Nursing

  • Shifts can be long. Many nurses talk about the almost tedious routine. But when things are moving, they're moving. Where you're working can be a factor — private practice, hospital, palliative care center, community clinic — but anything can happen at any time, completely flipping the tenor of the day and forcing everyone to move quickly, authoritatively and responsibly. Nursing can require making split-second decisions.

There are, of course, plenty of positions where this may not be the case, such as areas that focus on administration, but almost every nurse has experience in tight, fast-paced situations. If this idea appeals to you, you may be perfect for nursing.

  • The flexibility of nursing cannot be underestimated. You could certainly make a sustainable career of it, working in ICUs or moving up the ranks to Head Nurse or Educator. With the appropriate training and certification, a nurse can make themselves available for a smorgasbord of opportunities.
  • The major reason anyone goes into nursing is to have a positive impact. A deep passion to help drives them. Your need to support patients, family and community is always going to be an aspect of your intent. When asked why you want to be nurse, express your desire to be a trusted adviser to both patients and medical staff. To be a resource for managing injury and illness, for helping patients and family to move forward, and get the best care available.

Answering the Question

The medical field is one the most challenging anyone could want to be a part of. Whether you're working for a corporation, a hospital or an insurance company, you're on a path that says you are capable of putting the care of others front and center. Throughout the selection process, you will not only be scrutinized for your talent. You will be brought to task about your personal intent.

There are many ways the question will be asked:

  • Why do you want to be a nurse?
  • What inspires you?
  • Why are you interested in the medical profession?
  • What are your long term plans?

Your Statement of Purpose will go a long way to managing your nursing career.

Before any interview, prepare your answer. Understand what motivates you and be ready to elaborate on that. While many do get into nursing to help others, try not to provide canned answers that a thousand other candidates can provide. Your personality needs to stand out. If there's a story to tell that will enhance your answer, tell it.

Example Response

My mother was a nurse. She worked in the emergency room at XYZ General. I went with her to work a lot. I could see it wasn't an easy job, but she loved it. Working with people, caring for them. I saw her talk with family members that didn't know what they were going to do next. She'd calm them down and give them a reason to stay hopeful. I also saw how much the staff depended on the nurse. Doctors looked for my mom's expertise. They might give her something to do, but they always depended on her actions before making final decisions.

I decided early on that's what I wanted to do. To help others get through those vulnerable moments. I understand it can be long hours and stressful, but I'm ready to get in there and get my hands dirty. I'm ready to work hard and learn. I'm familiar with the need to be spontaneous and calm during the worst moments, helping the medical staff and patients address their needs. It's why I want to be nurse.

Remember, it's not simply convincing employers you want to be a nurse. It has to be about convincing them you should be their nurse.

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