The role of a nurse, especially in a hospital setting, can bring a full range of emotions, from the joy of seeing a successful outcome to the excruciating sense of helplessness that can accompany a tragic loss. That's the nature of life and death. Add to that the fact that nurses often see patients at their worst, and it's easy to understand that this is not a job for the faint of heart.
"You have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other people every day," Allen says. "You absolutely change patients' lives, people's lives. It's not going to happen with every patient, but there will be patients you care for who will never forget you, and who are changed because of what you do for them. And, as a nurse, you also become changed by those events. I think that's the gift."
That gift, however, often comes hand-in-hand with sacrifice. Hospital nurses, particularly if a facility is understaffed, often are required to work long hours, at all times of the day -- weekends and holidays, too.
"It's not easy," Allen says. "It's something you've got to be passionate about, and you've got to care about, and you've got to get a lot of fulfillment from it. Otherwise, it's just too hard."