Written by Robert Gluck

When we think of famous nurses, one of the first names to come to mind is Florence Nightingale, the celebrated English nurse who came to prominence for her pioneering work during the Crimean War where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night.

“No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – devoted and obedient,” Nightingale said.

Devotion to patients is, as Nightingale said, the primary reason to choose nursing as a career. Perhaps you’re thinking, well, Florence was referring to nursing back during those long lost war years. Is her reasoning still true today?

This writer decided to ask a modern-day Nightingale, Gail Inderwies, RN, BSN, MBA, this important question. Inderwies is an inspiration to nurses worldwide, and, like the famous Lady with the Lamp, has nursed a diverse group of people from AIDS patients to children with terminal illnesses.

A nursing expert, Inderwies is the president and executive director of Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania-based Keystone Care, a non-profit organization serving the home health, hospice and other home and community-based service needs of residents in Southeast Pennsylvania. Gail started her career as a nurse and knows all too well the reasons why people should choose nursing as a career.

“You’ve got to truly enjoy nursing and have a passion for helping the sick,” Inderwies says.

Recently, Inderwies noticed that there has been a problem transferring skill sets for nurses from one person to another and from one generation to another, but this is changing because new nurses are choosing the right reasons to enter the field.

“You’ve got to truly enjoy nursing and have a passion for helping the sick.”

“There’s a whole new set of nurses coming out that are thinking not only about themselves, but more importantly, the mission to which they are serving, “ she added. “If you can do both and have fun at the same time, that gives you that drive and passion to make change. Nurses, particularly in the new healthcare environment can be major change agents.”

Many folks want to be nurse practitioners, and that’s wonderful, Inderwies says.

“But we still need good bedside people, people who are going to get out and help with home and community based services in a way that not just gives people quantity of life but quality of life, making a difference.”

Why choose nursing as a career? Inderwies believes nurses should truly care about bringing comfort and dignity to the ill. But it goes beyond this.

“Everything we do is in terms of how to improve quality of life for the patient and the family,” she says. “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.”

It’s all about one’s passion to help others, but there’s also the the clinical side of nursing, and that should be part of any decision making process to enter the field. Do you have what it takes technically and scientifically to become a registered nurse?

According to Claire Keane, RN, BSN, MSN, Director of Nursing at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylania, her school offers an Associate Degree in Nursing that allows the successful student to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

“Graduates of the program are eligible to take NCLEX-RN,” Keane says. “Our nursing program prepares graduates to function as beginning graduate nurses, and to assume entry level positions as registered nurses in acute care, long term care, homes, clinics physicians’ offices, or other agencies established to meet health care needs. Program learning experiences prepare graduates for associate degree nursing practice, as defined and delineated by the nursing profession. Nursing functions require advanced technical skills, in addition to substantial scientific knowledge.”