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What Nurses Love Most About Their Jobs

Learn what drives and inspires nurses to follow their calling to provide extraordinary care.

Medically reviewed in March 2022

Updated on May 4, 2022

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Nursing can be both an incredibly challenging—and deeply rewarding—career. In honor of nurses everywhere, we’ve reached out to several members of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), the Honor Society of Nursing, to find out what drives their passion to help care for others. These amazing nurses represent a variety of specialties, from school nursing to end-of-life care, and various facets of life in between. Read on to learn about their experiences.

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Hester Klopper, PhD, Past President, STTI

"Nursing has opened doors beyond anything imaginable and any dreams of mine. With my work I have been able to travel the world, meet the most amazing, dedicated nurse practitioners, nurse leaders, and faculty members. Most of my work has been in the development of research and researchers, and to see my past students progressing into senior positions, taking the lead as nursing deans and leaders across the continent (of Africa) has been most fulfilling."

military nurse
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Richard Ricciardi, PhD, military nursing

"The main reason that I served in the military for over thirty years, and continue to serve as a nurse practitioner at Walter Reed National Military Center, is that I feel compelled and honored to care for these men and women who are giving up themselves for our country, for our beliefs, for something greater than themselves. I feel called to do my part. For me, it is a labor of love.”

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Connie Sobon Sensor, PhD, RN, school nursing

“The kids that are in your school become your kids. It’s different than my family, but it’s a part of my family. When you work in the schools, you don’t just deal with sick kids, you deal with healthy kids and keeping them well and you see them day in and day out. You become intertwined with the fiber of their life as they grow up. You don’t always know when the opportunity will come to make a difference.”

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Rachel Cardosa, RN, hospice nursing

“People always ask, ‘How can you do this job?  It seems like it would be so hard and difficult.’ Yes, it is difficult and it does impact me emotionally as a person, but it’s so rewarding and inspiring to be allowed to be part of someone’s life at end of life. That’s what keeps me doing this job. It isn’t for everybody and that’s okay. There’s a reason why some people go into this type of nursing.”

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Cynthia Diefenbeck, PsyD, psychiatric nursing

“We know so little about how the brain truly works compared to other organ systems. There’s still so much to learn and discover, so that keeps me interested in brain science and in mental health. In addition, in psychiatric mental health, we tend to develop very deep relationships with our patients, and in some cases, long-term relationships. There is something just very special about the helping relationship that occurs in mental health care.”

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Kathy Dwight, RN, staff nursing in labor and delivery

“I’ve always loved being at the bedside. I’ve been at the bedside in labor and delivery since 1974. I’ve loved being a part of people’s birth experience from the beginning, until they’re holding the baby and after their recovery is over. I just love being a part of such a monumental part of people’s lives and the fact that a lot of them have told me that I made their experience memorable. I have the most amazing job ever.”

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Shakira Henderson, PhD, neonatal nursing

“What keeps me going is being able to see a mother and her baby leave the hospital satisfied and supported, with whatever they decide to do—whether it’s breastfeeding or practicing skin-to-skin contact. My passion is research to generate new knowledge for other clinicians—to touch more lives. But being able to impact the life of a mom and a baby, even if it’s just one, is totally inspiring to me.”

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