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'So, why do you want to be a nurse?'

Possibly the most dreaded question to be asked at your university interview … how do you answer?

'So, why do you want to be a nurse?'

For me there was no moment of divine intervention, no following the footsteps of an admired parent or relative but rather a gradual realisation that nursing would be the perfect career for me.

I have been lucky enough to have had the pleasure of meeting some healthcare professionals who have inspired me and I hope to one day equal their skill, diligence and passion.

I think my main source of inspiration to become a nurse comes from an innate desire to help people and care for them in times of need. I am also a person who thrives on being challenged and I always have new goals to achieve, so nursing suits me as few other careers offer as much diversity and learning opportunities.

During my experience volunteering at a local hospice I realised that palliative care is a wonderful area to work in, definitely not sad and depressing as many seem to think!

I have many lovely memories of people I have met and worked with at the hospice. Having this experience and insight into nursing care definitely helped me get through the nerve-wracking experience of applying to university. It’s great to have lots of things to talk about at an interview and my work experience certainly gave me plenty to share and I was able to demonstrate my true passion for the profession.

“It’s great to have lots of things to talk about at an interview”

I would encourage anybody interested in nursing to get some work experience, it’s a brilliant way to find out if nursing would suit you and can be extremely rewarding and it is looked on very favourably by admissions tutors as well as being a lot of fun,  highly insightful and a great learning opportunity.

It was also very rewarding to feel that my input, no matter how small, had an effect on the lives of those I was caring for.

I am due to start my degree in adult nursing this September and I really cannot wait! I am full of beans and bursting with enthusiasm. After a year out from study I am raring to go and get stuck into the beginning of a career I know I will love.  

Ashley Needham starts her degree in adult nursing this September.


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Readers' comments (29)

  • Having asked that question of candidates a thousand times can I say that there is nothing more saddening then seeing them shrug or worse look as though it is not something they have ever though about before clearly surprised to find themselves somewhere other than the Media Studies department.
    It is of course the easiest question any candidate can be asked, a gift from interviewer to interviewee and a chance the student to tell the truth. A truth one hopes that does not include 'The Cultural Studies dept wouldn't have me and I heard you got a free you get a free watch?'

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  • I was so young back then and I was asked and hadn't prepared a reply. So without any prepared answer I could only reply honestly - I talked about wanting to care for people, particularly vulnerable people. I thought my reply sounded naive and cringed a little later on when I reflected on the interview.|They seemed so officious to me. I got the job though and tbh I do still like caring for people, particularly vulnerable people.

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  • Now a days I think a lot of nurses view their training as a passport to stay in the country

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  • Iwas asked this question when applying for my place at university this year. For me it was always going to be a hard question as i dont like selling myself but to be fair i got the place so i must have got it right.
    I believe it is important to be asked as it gives the candidate the chance to be true to themsleves as to why they want to persue a nursing carreer

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  • sadly wounded helper syndrome in some cases.

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  • I will be asking this question today as I have for the last few days and it still surprises me that candidates come for interview not having thought about 'why' they wish to be a nurse. We are a profession with its historical roots in the idea of 'vocation'. I still want to know that people who want to be nurses - care and enjoy working with people who need some support from us.

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  • intresting question. You would not go shopping with a shopping list. It is a about planning for the interview and not expecting to interview to know why you want to be a nurse. Some train nurse come for a job and do not read the Job description. When you ask them to tell you what they thoin they will be doing they say i have no idea, did not read the job description. Thye then want you to tell them. There I rest my case

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  • seems that many who go into banking with good honest intentions are quickly disillusioned and bullied as well.

    no idea what the ideal job might be? Being realistic I guess they all have their upsides and downsides much of which is of other people's making and not the job itself. probably most important is to believe in yourself and those whose interests you are serving, do your very best for them and for your own conscience and personal development, enjoy the challenges of all new opportunities and experiences presented to you and develop skill and expertise through them and forget about what others think and how they behave as that is their problem which they have to live with and cope with.

    Personally I concentrated on doing my job to the best of my ability and my contact with patients and my colleagues from whom one can learn so much and got enormous satisfaction from this and did my best to ignore and avoid becoming involved in any negative, petty and destructive behaviour of others.

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  • I should complete my last sentence above by adding 'unless it is detrimental to patients or others in which case one has as obligation to intervene, but fortunately this was not often the case where I worked and where most bad deeds were words only.'

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  • @Anonymous | 30-Aug-2011 9:19 am

    if we do did i get one? or is it still owing

    I always wanted to be nusres ever since i was 3.
    I love caring for other and helping but what i do hate is all the paper(computer)work)

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  • depends why you ask really!

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  • I don't want to be a nurse anymore! It's soul destroying!

    I turn up day after day, night after night or day, night, day, day, night (since the introduction of e-rostering).

    I barely get the same days off as my husband (who is also on e-rostering).

    I work hard, stay late, get no thanks and very stressed through fear of making a mistake or even saying the 'wrong' thing. I have to constantly cover myself through conscientious documentation and it is exhausting.

    Nursing now demands far more than it has any right to.

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  • I too wanted to be a nurse since an early age.I have photos of me at Christmas with a stethoscope around my neck at the age of 5, and I was always looking after my dolls and pretending to give them pills to make them better. I feel I am the type of nurse who really did feel drawn to the profession. However though I still love the job and enjoy my time at work, I feel constantly stressed trying to cover myself all the time with documentation etc. We have a sign up that says "If it's not documented it wasn't done." I spend my breaks writing my report so I don't forget anything and I worry about little things like did I sign for that drug etc. Also if a patient so much as touches their chest I am there with the ECG machine incase it turns out to be something serious and I failed to act on it. I could not go off duty and relax if I didn't. I know I am not the only nurse who is like this. I am not for one minute saying the job dosen't call for total devotion while you are on duty but would just wish our efforts were appreciated instead of demoralizing us with paycuts etc.

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  • Paperwork the bane of my life

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  • don't anymore thanks to all the negative press and comments by the general public and bigotedness of the patient group over the tabards. someone else can look after them.

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  • I didn't. In fact vowed the opposite. However found myself some 15 years later realising it is in my bones. So my answer would be something like...because I have no choice?

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  • poor old bones!

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  • not sure now.
    i came into nursing hoping that my 'lifestyle choice' would be covered by the union. it seems a poor reason but that was the initial one. then i discovered i really enjoyed the work i did.
    but then the paperwork situ has exploded and the constant pressure to keep the theatre lists going and the politics between everyone and i'm now thinking whether this was a good idea or not.
    it's worse on our wards there are never enough staff, rulings are made by people who have never set foot on a ward or in a theatre suite and some of the attitudes of the medical staff leave a lot to be desired.

    the end result? i'm coming up to my 5 year graduation anniversary, i have mild PTSD, low self-esteem and zero confidence. but i got a job and that's good enough for now i guess.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Sep-2011 8:50 am

    "......but i got a job and that's good enough for now i guess."

    But it isn't good enough, is it? Why should a qualified, skilled Nurse with 5 years experience feel like this? Well, you give some very good and familiar reasons for questioning your decision to enter this profession. And you are not alone. The bottom line is that you and, indeed, many of us have been failed. But don't you think that it's time we did something about it? Then we can create an environment where Nurses can be the professionals they wanted to be when they were first asked the question, "So, why do you want to be a Nurse?"

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  • When I was 16 I was rejected for nurse training because when asked the question I replied "I'm not sure if I want to be a nurse or a secretary" which was the truth. I did become a secretary (a good one) and the skills I developed stood me in good stead when I finally became a nurse aged 35. I am now a good nurse also. But you know, whilst nursing is more fulfilling and interesting than secretarial work, I often wish I were still a secretary! I have never encountered so much back stabbing as amongst the nursing profession.

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