Connecting to why you became a nurse

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What is the reason you became a nurse? Was it to care for people? Help people to achieve a better level of health? With the increasing demands and responsibilities of the job, it can be easy to lose sight of that initial goal.


For some nursing was the career path they knew they wanted to take from an early age. Others were inspired by role models, those in their family or nurses who touched their lives. Yet others chose nursing later in life looking for a more meaningful and rewarding career.

Whatever the reason RN, author and blogger Brittney Wilson aka The Nerdy Nurse says that creating a nurse mission statement can be one of the single most important things you could do for your career and for your patients.

“A nurse mission statement is a declaration of the values and goals of your nursing career. It’s what drives your career, tells people what you’re all about and what you aim to bring to the table.

‘I became a nurse for a reason, and I want to represent that reason every day.’”

Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria ( NMHP) CEO Glenn Taylor suggests remembering why you became a nurse helps during the tough times. Often when nurses access the NMHP Victoria for assistance, they are lacking hope, he says.

“We get them to identify something, something reasonably special that reminds them why they got into what they do and for them to feel good at what they do.”

Teaching nurses self-reflection can increase their resilience and help them fulfil their potential to deliver compassionate care, research shows.

Reflective practice is important says Mark Aitken of Nurse & Midwife Support

Nurses need to learn to be more caring of themselves as part of being caring and compassionate towards others, he says. If we are compassion fatigued, reconnecting with ourselves and others can help us to heal.

“People phone us, we do an assessment, hear the story from someone who understands the world they work in, our counsellors are all nurses and midwives and that is really important to people who call.”

Three state Branch Secretaries of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation share what inspired them to become a nurse.

Adjunct Assoc Prof Elizabeth Dabars AM, CEO/Secretary ANMF SA Branch

As a young child, I remember visiting my grandmother in hospice care. She didn’t look like Grandma. She couldn’t recognise us. It was confronting. It was a moment I will never forget. So too will I never forget her nurses. After making her comfortable, they brought me a cup of cordial. I didn’t ask for it. I wasn’t thirsty. But, what struck me was not the cordial itself, it was the gesture. The extension and expression of care. Placing the patient, and their loved ones, at the centre of care. This is what inspired me then and is what continues to inspire me every day.

Beth Mohle, Secretary, Queensland Nurses & Midwives’ Union, ANMF QLD Branch

Mine is not an unusual story – nursing is in the blood! My mum Marjorie and her two sisters Ruth and Dorothy were RNs, training at the Royal Brisbane Hospital during World War II. My eldest sister Jenine was also a nurse and midwife.

I wanted to follow in the family tradition. I wanted to make a difference and nursing was a way to do this on so many levels. In my early 20s I moved to Sydney to start my training at the Royal North Shore Hospital. I wasn’t able to complete my training there as I had to move back to Brisbane when my mum was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer. The rules in those days wouldn’t allow me to transfer my training, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me! After 18 months of lobbying, including to then Health Minister Brian Austin, I succeeded in gaining permission to start my training again at the Royal Brisbane Hospital commencing as a “6-4” in 1986.

Brett Holmes, General Secretary, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association

Branch Secretary, ANMF NSW Branch

After casting aside pre-teen aspirations of becoming a doctor, I’m thrilled to say two formidable women in my hometown of Wellington, NSW were my inspiration to become a registered nurse, mental health nurse and later a midwife.

Judy Scott, Director of Nursing at Wellington’s former Bindawalla Hospital, was largely responsible for pointing me in the right direction. The other was my mother who enrolled in infant nursing only to become too distressed by the care and conditions at the sick children’s home to finish studying in the 1950’s.

Inspired, I embarked on my student nurse journey in 1980 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, joined RPA’s Nurses Association branch and became a branch official within 12 months, determined to improve nurses’ conditions.

2 Comments

  1. Sharon Denton July 22, 2018 at 12:57 am - Reply

    Well fancy that Brett Holmes from Wellington I too am from there had the pleasure of working with Judy at Bindawalla in the early 80s I have just retired after 47 years of nursing I loved that I was able to enter people’s lives to provide care,comfort & friendship

    • ANMJ July 23, 2018 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Sharon,
      Thank you for your comments.
      It is a small world indeed.
      Congratulations on your retirement.
      We are glad you found nursing a rewarding career

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