Why should I become a doctor when I can be a nurse?

They thought I was 'irrational' for becoming a nurse instead of a doctor, I don't regret it one bit and here’s why!

Saima Shivji June 03, 2013
Beta, nurse kyun, doctor kyun nahee?

(Why do you want to be a nurse and not a doctor?)

“Nursing? Woh choro, doctor banjao”

(Nursing? Leave that and become a doctor)

These were some of the things I had to hear when I announced to my family, relatives and friends that I wanted to become a nurse and yes not a doctor. What I received was somewhat a mixture of emotions ranging from happiness and joy to shock and disbelief.

Mostly shock though.

Not that I am against doctors, oh no, of course not! But I just wanted to pursue something in medicine other than an MBBS and nursing was the next best option in my mind.

Aunties who had doctor sons were curious to know that why I made such an ‘irrational’ decision. They thought I had lost my mind, pursuing a profession which is not considered ‘popular’ or to be exact, just ‘isn’t good enough’.

Well, I was prepared for such questions before I took the leap of faith and had a whole list of answers prepared which I am going to share with all of you here as well.

I really hope this helps people (both females and males) understand why so many of us opt for nursing, and why not everybody wants to play doctor in a white coat.

For starters, it’s a noble profession. You say, well so is MBBS right?

You get to serve the people, irrespective of their colour, caste, creed and the language they speak. You get to give 100% to human kind and get the golden opportunity of giving a little back to your society. But nursing offers much more; it encompasses the social, mental, physical and spiritual well-being of every patient. Also, nurses counsel patients, advocate for them and yes, care for them in every way possible.

I can confidently say nurses do much more than doctors. Moreover, nursing provides you with all sorts of opportunities. You can go into research, management, work at an NGO, teach or even work as a community healthcare nurse.

Nursing has a whole range of fields where you can build on your expertise such as Nursing Practitioners, Registered Nurse, and Nursing Faculty etc.

As a nurse I have experienced the best moments of my life.

Picture this -- a patient who has spent almost a month in the hospital finally gets to go home. He thanks you for your help and your care. You can see the gratitude in those tear-filled eyes and you feel a lump slowly rising in your throat as you say ameen to the endless list of prayers he sends your way.

This is the feeling that actually overpowers you for days and makes you think,
“Yes, I have achieved something and my efforts have paid off!!”

The feeling where you spend hours trying to bring a patient back to life - and finally witness his deep stable breathing, his regained consciousness and his body finally responding to the medications - that feeling is irreplaceable, it’s out of this world!

Nobody, trust me, nobody can explain what it truly feels like until they have experienced it themselves. Many people may think that doctors do that too, but in hospitals, doctors usually visit their patients a maximum of twice or thrice in a day including the everyday morning rounds. It is the nurses who take care of them at all times and help alleviate their pain, making sure they recover swiftly and comfortably.

On a lighter side, you know you’re a nurse when you find yourself checking out a customer’s arm veins while waiting in line at a grocery store!

Nursing is the kind of profession that will always keep you on your toes. You can’t just sit back and relax even for a minute because you have at least 10 patients (from my experience where I used to work) waiting for you and your attention.

As a nurse, as well as a doctor, you experience the thrill of saving lives but only as a nurse do you experience the emotional rollercoaster your patient embarks upon. Only nurses learn to be there for their patients. You experience the kind of satisfaction that is impossible to find elsewhere. It makes you experience fear when you think it might be too late to save your patient.

When you become a nurse, it makes you forget who you are. When you become a nurse, you don’t belong to yourself anymore, when you become a nurse you become a nurse belonging to all those who need you.

They say,
“You know you’re a nurse when you go home with an empty stomach and a full bladder, and yet you’re satisfied that you saved lives that day.”

And it’s true!

You seldom get the opportunity to take a lunch break and that too only when one of your colleagues agrees to look after your patient while you can rush through your five minute meal. Even those five minutes do not, however, count as a break as the Unit Receptionist will inevitably page you to attend to your block, the radiologist will call you to attend to your patient for an x-ray or instruct that the patient be moved to the radiology lab, the doctor will want to know if your patient has been given the required medication or your patient will call because he is unsure of what the doctor making rounds just said to him.

So, yes, it takes hard work and a lot of stamina to become a nurse.

If you have survived a heart attack, or you have clean stitches or you have recovered from a trauma, thank a nurse. They have taken care of you and made sure that you recover fully. They stand by your side till you are stable and they help teach your families how to best take care of you so that they can take informed decisions about your health. And most importantly, they do it without complaining.

My decision was not uninformed and it was not ‘irrational’. If I were given a choice to go back and choose from the start between becoming a doctor or a nurse, I would choose being a nurse all over again!
Saima Shivji She is currently working as the Project Coordinator of School Outreach Tours at Citizens Archive of Pakistan. She loves reading books, hanging out with friends and listening to good music.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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