Lately about half, seemingly, of our nurses are studying to be nurse practitioners or have just graduated and decimated our staff (and yes, I literally mean 10% of the staff is leaving). Our aides scoff when asked "are you in nursing school?" They want to be NPs or PAs. Even long-time experienced RNs are saying they are thinking of going back to school, and it's not always to further their career in nursing. Typically, people are asking me whether I'm going to go back to school or, more frequently, TELLING me I should. Readers know this has been one of peeves for a looooooooong time. (Don't tell me what I should do...about anything, really.)
Leaving aside the fact that I've been in college for a total of 9 years between two bachelor's degrees and have very little desire to accrue more student loans or spend any more time navigating academic bullshit, I have some practical and some, shall way say, emotional? reasons for staying "just a nurse" (a phrase that causes my spine to contract a little).
Practical reasons: I don't much relish the idea of seeing sore throats and sprained ankles all day long, and until NPs win their fight to practice to the full limits of their scope of practice, they'll probably keep doing just that---at least in these-here parts. I am a trauma junkie. I want to roll up my sleeves and enter the fray in the big bright rooms with close-to-dead people on the cart who need saving. Making a crapton more money is undeniably compelling, but for now I make enough for what I do. I have a good job. And I have zero desire to return to school for yet a THIRD career.
Emotional reasons: "Emotional" is probably a bad word because it evokes the incorrect sentimental image of nurses plumping pillows and soothing fevered brows to the exclusion of the complicated technical stuff we do also. I'll use it anyway, because at the end of the day, I'll keep being a nurse because it makes me FEEL good. Who is it who reassures you? Puts needles into your veins so your pain can be relieved? Puts pillows under your broken bones so you can rest in greater comfort? Sits with you while your parent dies? Me. Physicians and midlevel practitioners just don't do that stuff. I do, and I'm GOOD at it. Every time I buzz into the room of a fearful patient and see the click of recognition in their eyes that says "I feel better because I feel confident that this nurse is going to take good care of me," I feel like this is my calling. It's what I was meant to do. It would take a lot to get me to change.
Also, what other job could I have where I'm expected to swear a lot and can legitimately call my coworkers dicks without reprisal? Just saying.