Why I Am Okay with Not Being a “Real Nurse” Anymore


Landing that first hospital job is typically the ideal outcome for most nursing students.  Bedside nursing gives new nurses exposure to a wide variety of patients, diseases, skills, and knowledge. Hospital nursing experience is truly invaluable.

Scheduling factors can also play a role in choosing a hospital job. I liked the idea of working 12-hour shifts and only having to work 2-3 days per week. After becoming a mom, working night shifts and weekends allowed me to earn an income without having to worry about childcare.

After a few years of working long shifts in a high-stress environment, I began to realize a long-term hospital career wasn’t for me. It wasn’t going to give me the work/life balance that I wanted and needed.

While I agree 100% that having a foundation of hospital experience is invaluable, exclusively working in a hospital is not the only way or the best way to use your nursing degree.

I was so exhausted from working that I barely even enjoyed my days off. And I didn’t want to worry about missing another birthday, holiday, sports practice or game, school event, or other family event because I was at work. I didn’t want to stress about finding childcare, and I didn’t want to worry if my babysitter was going to be reliable.

Why I Am Okay with Not Being a "Real Nurse" AnymoreAfter a few months of contemplating this change, I finally decided to take a leap of faith and submit my two weeks notice. Making that decision was emotional. I felt guilt, embarrassment, and regret. I felt like I wasn’t a “real nurse” anymore. Unfortunately, there is an unspoken rule that exists for nurses.

It is that nurses that work outside of the hospital are not “real nurses.”

I knew this stigma wasn’t true. But it was hard to walk away from something that was such a big part of my identity. I reminded myself of the bigger reward that I was gaining by leaving bedside nursing. And I reflected on the many nurses I knew that have fulfilling careers outside of the hospital.

I realized that my knowledge and skills will not be lost forever by making this career shift.  And I can stay enrolled in continuing education classes, obtain certifications, and further my education with an advanced degree to keep up with the ever-changing world of nursing. I am excited about the possibilities in my future.

If you are also considering a career change, don’t let fear or guilt hold you back. In the end, you will not regret having more time and freedom to do what matters most to you.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.