Being a nurse is difficult. Our job is mentally taxing, emotionally draining, and physically exhausting. The expectations for those in the field are often unrealistic, and in some circumstances the occupational risks are real. Nurses work tirelessly for their patients who are entrusted to our loving and skillful care.  We make life-and-death decisions, and the risks are real.

Despite the difficulty, I get the satisfaction of making a difference in someone’s life, either helping ease their pain, making them more comfortable, or just being there to hold their hand to get them through the tough times. It is what I enjoy most.

But despite all the stress, the fact remains that I love being a nurse – there’s no other profession I’d rather have.

Inspired by the National Nurses Week festivities in the U.S. last week, I have compiled the top 5 reasons why I love being a nurse:

Cutting edge healthcare. Medicine has come a long way over the years. Looking back at text books from the 1800s, and even just seeing how things have progressed since I became a nurse 23 years ago, it’s mind-blowing to see the advances. During my time with ALEH, Israel’s foremost network of state-of-the-art facilities for children with severe intellectual and motor disabilities, I have witnessed incredible medical progress in how we treat and care for our children. I’m honored to be a part of such progressive care, and I am proud to be a small cog in the wheel of our ever-advancing healthcare system.

Team work.  It is such a thrill to be part of a team of like-minded healthcare professionals. No one pulls together like a healthcare team.  We are intent on making a difference in the quality of our patients’ lives, and we go the extra mile every single time to make it so. I’m consistently in awe  of my colleagues’ work ethics and their ability to make everything look so fluid and natural. It’s truly amazing to behold. We deal with numerous complex cases, and the children we care for can deteriorate very rapidly. Yet, our team of dedicated nurses are always able to stay cool under pressure, relying on the team structure when necessary and always using their instincts and skills to identify those who are at risk and set the course for appropriate care.

A calming presence. Being sick is scary, and no one wants to be alone during this time of uncertainty – neither the patients nor their families. That’s why I find so much joy in my ability to calm their fears. In my current position, I care for children in long-term care, and having a positive and honest relationship with the family members is both crucial and rewarding. For the parents, having someone knowledgeable to lean on can be the difference between a foreboding experience and a seamless one.

Nurses tend to a young child at ALEH Negev.

Nurses tend to a young child at ALEH Negev.

Pain relief. Whether it’s helping an addict detox or easing someone in chronic pain, nurses bring comfort to their patients in ways that others cannot. Some of the children in our care at ALEH are blind and deaf. Knowing how to approach them make them feel safe and loved means everything to them.  The ability to offer that kind of relief to another human being is truly magical. Which brings me to my final point.

Making a difference. As a nurse, I make a difference in the lives of my patients every day. I can’t think of many other callings that allow an individual to have such a profound personal impact on others. I can help others heal, save lives, and make the passing from this life more comfortable. It’s a humbling experience as well as a huge responsibility, but I’m extremely proud to count myself among the world’s dedicated corps of healthcare professionals who put it all on the line, day in and day out.

Yes, be a nurse is tough. In my estimation, it’s one of the toughest jobs around, and it’s most certainly not for the faint of heart.

But in the end, the difficult and stressful elements of the job don’t compare to the joy of helping others heal and grow.  Being a nurse is my calling, and that knowledge of a profound higher calling carries me through the bad days and reminds me of how frequently I get the chance to touch lives and change the world.