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10 Nursing Quotes to Keep You Inspired

The nursing field is one of the most challenging careers available because it requires exceptional people who have exceptional skills. To make it as a nurse, one must possess an encyclopedic mind, a strong work ethic, fast reflexes, patience, and an unyielding desire to help their patients. Furthermore, nurses must develop their mental and emotional fortitude as dealing with loss is an inevitable part of the job.

With such a demanding and taxing career, it’s easy for nurses to struggle with anxiety, depression, or negative thoughts. In fact, many young nurses leave the bedside to pursue other nursing positions, or leave the profession altogether, early in their career because it is, put simply, hard.

While a list of quotes won’t make up for a bad day, they can help remind us why we entered the nursing field in the first place. These 10 nursing quotes can help inspire, motivate, and brighten your day:

1. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia

At times, you may feel like your actions don’t make a difference in your patient’s lives, or in the grand scheme of life. However, your work is essential, and even the smallest gestures can have a positive impact. Whether it’s the comfort you provided to a grieving family member or sharing a conversation with a patient struggling with isolation, a little kindness goes a long way.

2. “Remember: nurses are like icebergs. At any one time, you are only seeing what they are actually doing.”

Ian Miller

People outside of the profession may not understand everything that you do over the course of a day. A nurse’s job is multifaceted, often juggling multiple priorities at once with much work going on behind the scenes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or underappreciated, remember that everything you do for your patients, seen and unsees, does make a difference.

3. “Every nurse was drawn to nursing because of a desire to care, to serve, or to help.”

Christina Feist-Heilmeier

No matter your background, all nurses share the common desire to care, serve, or help others. When things get tough, remember what drew you to the field in the first place, you get the opportunity to help people every single day, and you continue to make a difference in the lives of your patients.

4. “Nurses are there when the last breath is taken and nurses are there when the first breath is taken. Although it is more enjoyable to celeb

Christine Bell

As a nurse, you are with patients in the most joyous and most sorrowful moments of their lives. Of course, you should always celebrate life and recovery from illness. But you also have the power to provide comfort and peace to patients and their families in the face of death. And while it’s never easy, your words and actions can help people through difficult times.

5. “As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul, and body of our patients, their families, and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

You may not remember the name of every patient you treat, and they may not remember yours either. However, your care and kindness have a positive impact on your patients’ lives and those of their families. Also, remember their presence has impacted your life as well. Carry this with you to inspire you each and every day.

6. “Student, you do not study to pass the test. You study to prepare for the day when you are the only thing between a patient and the grave.”

Mark Reid, MD

If you’re a nursing student, you’re likely focused on passing your exams and, of course, the NCLEX. While you study, remember why you’re doing so. You’re building up your knowledge base to become the best nurse possible and you will have to make difficult, potentially life-saving decisions down the line, so don’t just focus on memorizing facts. Understand the reason and the importance of your education.

7. “Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon.”

Dag Hammarskjold

Major operations and other large-scale medical treatments are important, but so is the daily care nurses provide to their patients. Nursing staff provides constant medical and personal attention, communicates with patients and families regularly, and ensures that treatment continues to be carried out. Don’t forget how important you are to your patient’s well-being and survival.

8. “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.”


Nurses have a passion for helping others, and study and train for years to gain the necessary medical knowledge to do so. This knowledge and experience combined with a strong need for quality healthcare, especially during difficult times, results in a worthwhile and fulfilling profession.

9. “You treat a disease: You win, you lose. You treat a person: I guarantee you win—no matter the outcome.”

Patch Adams

Medical knowledge will help you fight a disease or condition, but it can’t always be cured. Instead, focus on treating the individual. Consider their emotional needs in addition to their physical needs. Put yourselves in their shoes and try to connect with them. Whether or not medical intervention improves their condition, your patients’ and families’ lives are improved because of you.

10. “To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through, that is what it is to be a nurse.”

Rawsi Williams

Being a nurse is no easy feat. The job requires caring for patients and their families when they are most vulnerable. Remember that despite the difficulties of the nursing profession, you are needed and you should be proud of all you do. 

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