Home Health & Wellness Assessing the Rigours and Rewards of High-Demand Nursing Careers

Assessing the Rigours and Rewards of High-Demand Nursing Careers

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Almost half of all newly minted nurses leave the job within five years. Many nursing students understand what they like about the work. They want to make a difference in people’s lives and do something meaningful with their time. 

Unfortunately, they don’t fully understand how difficult the work can be. Some of the challenges are external; others are emotional. 

While healthcare work can be very rewarding, it’s important to look at all sides of nursing careers before you invest your time and money in a degree. In this article, we take a look at the rigours and rewards of nursing. 

Nurses encounter difficult situations every day

Nurses are rarely able to escape tragedy. There may be minor exceptions here and there – school nurses, for example – but for the most part, healthcare workers are interacting with people during the hardest moments of their lives. 

Your average floor nurse deals with people who are sick or dying. Some patients never leave the hospital. Not only does the nurse deal with their suffering but they also interact regularly with grieving family members. 

It’s hard to pivot back into a domestic mentality hours after someone you have spent the last two weeks caring for dies. 

Many nursing careers deal with violence. Any floor nurse may have patients who were the recipients of deliberately induced physical trauma. Some careers deal with it exclusively. 

Forensic nurses work with people who have been the victim of violent crimes. Often, this involves treating people in the moments after sexual assault. 

Prospective nurses simply can’t fully anticipate what it feels like to deal with human tragedy every day. That aspect of the work alone often drives many working nurses into different career paths. 

The work is physically demanding

It’s also hard to anticipate just how physically demanding nursing work is. Nurses spend a shocking amount of time on their feet. They also frequently move heavy equipment or even humans. Nurses are sometimes targets of violence. Patients get confused or belligerent. 

Almost 40% of nurses will experience violence on the job at some point in their careers. The probability of that going up depends on what kind of work they are doing. 

The hours can be ludicrous

Most nursing students know that there is a good chance they will be working twelve-hour shifts. They also know that nursing rotations happen on nights, weekends, and holidays. However, it can be difficult to fully anticipate how hard it will be to balance personal responsibilities. 

You may be on a different sleep schedule than the rest of your family. Certainly, you will miss some Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations with your kids, spouses, and family. 

It can also be hard to balance your personal life with your job. On days you are working, virtually all of your waking time is spent at work or getting ready for it. On days you aren’t scheduled, you’ll inevitably be recovering from the exhausting hours you just worked. 

Some hospitals are working on shorter rotations that alleviate many of these concerns. 

It’s also worth noting that not everyone hates nursing schedules. Some like only working three days a week. It can make it easier to plan trips and enjoy other leisure activities.

Your health may be put on the backburner

During Covid, doctors and nurses were put into direct contact with the virus every day. Where the rest of us were told to stay at home and avoid interacting with others, nurses were working to treat people who had been infected. 

This, of course, is a dramatic representation of how nurses risk their health to administer care. Pandemics don’t happen very often. 

Infectious disease, on the other hand, does. Nurses don’t have the luxury of saying, “Oh, you know what? I’d rather not go in there. That guy looks contagious!” 

Rewards of working as a nurse

Not everything about nursing careers is hard or unpleasant. Many people love the work and stay with it for the entirety of their careers. Below, we take a look at some of the many rewarding aspects of the job. 

Nurses live purposeful lives

Less than half of all working people report that they find their work meaningful. Feeling apathetic about your professional responsibilities can lead to burnout or even depression. Who wants to spend forty hours a week doing something they see as meaningless?

Nursing is hard, but no one can deny that the work is important. Perhaps that’s why almost 90% of nurses report that they find their work fulfilling. 

Nurses are well-paid

Though it could certainly be argued that nurses aren’t compensated relative to the value their work provides, they do make quite a bit more than the national average. Experienced nurses can expect to command an almost six-figure salary. Nurse practitioners and other professionals with advanced degrees make even more. 

While very few nurses are in it for the money, it is a nice perk. 

Nurses have tonnes of career options

Not everyone realises how many career paths are available to nurses. It’s easy to think of ERs or crowded hospital floors. What about education? Some nurses work with patients to teach them how to care for chronic illnesses (like diabetes). 

What about home healthcare? These nurses get to work very closely with patients in an intimate setting. 

Neo-natal nurses work with babies. Flight nurses work in helicopters. Some nurses work with psychiatric patients. Others work in schools – or even summer camps. Options for specializing are almost endless. 

Do not feel constrained by the idea of working 12-hour night shifts on a busy hospital floor. There are loads of ways to use a nursing degree. 


Nursing is not an easy job. It takes a special kind of person to stick with it for the length of their career. However, the difficulties shouldn’t overshadow the rewarding aspects of the work. Fulfilling jobs aren’t always easy to come by. 

Nurses go to work each day, knowing they are making a difference in the world. If that appeals to you, consider a healthcare career.

Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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