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Nurses who wrote in to The Globe said they loved the variety of their job, while others warned of the difficult parts of the job. (Catherine Yeulet/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Nurses who wrote in to The Globe said they loved the variety of their job, while others warned of the difficult parts of the job. (Catherine Yeulet/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Salaries Series

Readers give their views on being a nurse Add to ...

Last week, Globe Careers started a new series that looks at a number of professions, their education requirements, their earning potential, and the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of the jobs.

The first story on nurses was well read, and garnered a lot of real-life responses and advice from nurses and others.

Here’s a selection of some of the best comments:

Several nurses gave the low-down on what the profession entails and what they like or dislike about it.

  • M. Lyons wrote: “It’s the only job where you can run the full gamut of emotions in any given shift. It’s about caring, making better, seeing new life, and easing the passing of life. It’s about knowing yourself, your skills, your patient and your patient’s family, and continuing to learn more about all of that almost every day. After 33 years and many different areas of practice, each day continues to be a surprise. Can’t get bored in this job.”


  • Leslie Gross at the Credit Valley Hospital says she still loves her job after 10 years. “I have worked in the mental health field for the past decade. Nursing is such an honour. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel entirely grateful for the privilege of supporting patients in their care and recovery at some of the most difficult moments in their lives. Some of the most extraordinary people I have met are my patients. The courage, tenacity and perseverance they embody is awe inspiring. And it re-affirms the reason I became a nurse. Salary? It’s good. But as cliche as this sounds, the compensation of fulfilment you get from such a rewarding profession is priceless. If you want to become a nurse, please do so. Regardless of how much you will make. You will be rich based on your experiences.”


  • Kyla Cullain, a nursing project officer with Ottawa Public Health wrote that she likes doing different tasks. “The reason I went into nursing was for the variety. There are endless opportunities to work in a multitude of fields throughout your career; as well as opportunities to further your education and possibilities. I’m currently doing my Master of Nursing at the University of Athabasca through correspondence while working full time. I work at the public health department, in the area of outbreak management and communicable diseases. I work Monday to Friday (no shift work) with great pay, and absolutely love what I do. Currently, I’m conducting a full review of Ottawa’s Vaccine Preventable Diseases program to hopefully help create an innovative and strategic program for the City of Ottawa residents. When I’ve met up with others after work, many are shocked to hear that I’m a nurse since I’m wearing a suit – not scrubs. Regardless of the outfit – the outcome is the same: patients come first.”


  • Karen Lidster, who has been a registered nurse for six years, said she has worked in in-patient psychiatry and public health nursing. “I love both jobs. I’d have to say my passion comes with public health nursing. It gives a big picture to health of the individual, community and population. We work to prevent chronic diseases through education of smoking cessation, breast feeding support, child development and nutrition just to name a few. I love every day of my work.”


  • Jane McCall wrote that it can be a child-friendly profession. “My partner worked weekdays and I worked shift. When my kids were small I managed to put together a schedule that allowed us to share child care. We never needed to pay for daycare.” She added that “there are lots of opportunities for change. In my 30-year career I have done lots of different jobs, from staff nurse in a variety of different areas to clinical nurse leader to educator. You get tired of one thing and you can do another.”

Shiftwork was a drawback cited by many readers.

  • “Nursing is a well paid profession but the night shift ruins your health,” wrote DJD.


  • Chalolal, a nurse for more than 20 years, liked the night shift and wrote: “I love night shifts, and have not had any deleterious effects. In fact, I felt worse working day shift. I was nauseated, dizzy, and gained weight! I guess my body and I don’t like getting up early. In my career, I’ve worked in a variety of settings: Red Cross, home care, surgical short stay, ER, float pool in the US, the OR and now hospice. That’s what’s great about nursing. There’s variety. And you can go anywhere to practice (once the paperwork/redtape is completed).”

The more unpleasant aspects of the job came up frequently.

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