Want to Study Nursing? 10 Things You Should Know Before You Make a Decision.


The bitter truth about studying nursing.

Sometimes, after a long and tiring shift. When I scroll down on social media, I see some superficial blogger living her “perfect” life and earning thousands of shekels more than me. I feel like I’ve been scammed. Who scammed me? I don’t know who to blame anymore, the academy? The state? The Ministry of Health of Israel? Or myself? Why did I study nursing? What did I get out of it? I had such innocent intentions, saving lives, helping people, getting a permanent, stable job, and living with dignity.

It turns out that saving lives in our time is probably not that important to the state. Why? Because the reward is not equal to the work and effort, we nurses put into the shifts. In this article, I will reveal the whole truth about the profession, a hidden and difficult truth that I personally discovered from my own journey.

About the studies:

A degree in nursing is an academic study that lasts four years. The first two years are very similar to the first years of medical school. The courses include medical fields such as pathology, chemistry, anatomy, genetics, biology, etc. The third and fourth years delve into other topics, such as adult medicine, which includes all internal treatment. The degree and the fields studied are fascinating. However, after graduation, it becomes clear that the field is far from the books. Work is more physical than mental. Most of the time, nurses carry out medical orders given to them by doctors.  A nurse must be able to judge and understand the orders to determine if they are appropriate or not. However, at some point, there is no creativity or exercise of any independent thought. It becomes a mindless and soulless routine.

Some departments may have the potential to let the nurse make decisions and exercise autonomy of thinking. Still, unfortunately in most departments, nurses do not have much authority over making medical or nursing decisions.

There is a possibility to continue specialization studies to become a specialist nurse, which would enable you to develop professionally and obtain medical authorizations. However, in order to do that you need to complete a master’s degree, complete a course of specialization, and obtain letters of recommendation from your managers.

Let me add things up for you: the bachelor studies are four years, a course of specialization- one year, a master’s degree – two years, and studies for the clinical specialization is about one year. In total, this means that you end up studying for eight years to become a specialist nurse.

Well, I would recommend studying medicine in the 4-year program instead of spending your money and time to become a specialist nurse.


 10 unpleasant things that I discovered only after I graduated.

1-A registered nurse does not get a license for her career. but a registration number.

When the nurse finishes her studies and passes the government test, she receives a registration number, not a license. Her career is considered an occupation rather than a profession. That means she cannot open a clinic and be independent in her career. 

2-The nurse ends up having to do things that are not part of the academic studies.

The standard of the auxiliary force in hospitals in Israel is equal to the standard of the qualified nurse.  This means that if there is no auxiliary force during the night shift, for example, to save manpower, the nurse must take on extra responsibilities. In other words, the nurse replaces the auxiliary force, and hospitals value these two different jobs as one standard. A nurse changes diapers, bathes patients, and even carries their weight on her body while taking them from the bed to the chair or vice versa, even though that is the starcher’s role. Older generation nurses believe that a nurse should change a diaper or bathe a patient in order to do a skin assessment. This is a perspective from an ancient era that does not fit our times. A nurse is responsible for the wellbeing of multiple patients. Assigning a nurse more work than she is supposed to do is exploitation.

3-Nurses are at risk of developing chronic diseases.

 According to studies, nurses who work shifts in hospitals, including nights, are at risk of developing chronic diseases such as insomnia, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and arrhythmias. This is due to a disturbance in the biological clock, lack of sleep, exhaustion, and stress.

4-The nurse is barely able to get a break during the shift.

Nurses cannot leave the department to eat in the dining room like the rest of the hospital staff (doctors, x-ray workers, secretariat, etc.). This is because the department relies heavily on nurses being near their patients. Nurses receive leftovers from the food served for patients, or resort to fast food when they become fed up with the routine cold meal. Moreover, the nurse sometimes does not have enough time to enter the bathroom to urinate. Basic biological needs cannot be performed. Feels like a battle, doesn’t it?

5-The salary is not adequate.

Even if you finish a specialization course and a master’s degree the compensation is still inadequate. The maximum a nurse can reach at the age of 60 is 12-15 thousand shekels. Most nurses receive 9 thousand shekels after eight years of work, even while working night shifts and on weekends.

For example, a nurse shared his story on the “Nursing in Israel” page on Facebook: 

“I have worked as a nurse 80% (until a year ago it was 100%) for 8 years in an internal department in the center of the country

A bachelor’s degree in nursing and a bachelor’s degree in health systems management

I do shift responsibility

 I Work only evening and night, almost every Friday and Saturday

Even though I worked 100%, the difference is about NIS 900 maximum per month

I recommend everyone

Reduce the working hours

Look for other things

You will feel the difference when you start working less

Not worth the money

Not worth the nerves

Not worth the leg pain.”

6-Nurses’ lives are in danger almost everywhere.

Nurses’ lives are threatened due to violence from patients. Is there security everywhere? The answer is no. Is there a financial reward or additional salary for the risk she is under? The answer is no. Countless times nurses experienced violence from patients, and unfortunately, some of them were murdered by patients. The late nurse Tova Carrero was set on fire by a 78-year-old patient in 2017. According to a report by the Knesset’s research center, it was discovered that 10,000 attacks against medical personnel have occurred since 2018.

 7-Lack of standards in medical institutions is a chronic problem.

 It is impossible to let a nurse be responsible for 5-12 patients every shift. She is not a superwoman. Recruiting more qualified nurses is urgently needed.

8-Society’s perception of nurses has not yet improved.

Unfortunately, people talk to nurses with impatience and disrespect, as if they were their slave. And the blame is on the global lack of awareness of nurses’ importance and status in medical institutions.

9-Lack of reward and appreciation.

A word of thanks from the manager from time to time greatly adds to the employee’s motivation and satisfaction. The nurse barely hears a word of thanks and recognition from the employers. I am not generalizing all institutions, but it should be more common. An institution that respects itself respects its employees. Furthermore, why don’t the institutions think of organizing several trips in a year that are worthy for the nursing staff for their well-being? Trust me it works.

10-Registered nurses do not strike properly.

When nurses want to strike, their conscience does not allow them to strike properly because if there are no nurses, the hospitals collapse. Furthermore, a nurse who expresses their frustration in a strike or demonstration may face threats from the management to get fired, although freedom of expression in Israel is a basic human right.


Personal testimonies from nurses:

MS, 24:

“Once while I was working, my boss called me for a conversation, and in the conversation, she asked me: How are you doing in nursing care? I told her what does that mean? She answered me: “I mean in changing diapers?” I told her that I did not learn that in my first degree. She was surprised and answered me: Nurses are saying that you constantly require help with this, not only are you supposed to do it alone, but it also shouldn’t bother you because it’s part of your job, that’s why I’m going to put you through a whole month of morning shifts of overlaps to practice changing diapers. That day I sent a letter of resignation, and I didn’t return to work in hospitals since then.”

AZ, 24:

“I work near home, in a well-known hospital in Israel, in the children’s department. I try to look at the bright side, but I can’t understand how such a well-known and respected hospital allows a nurse in today’s era to change the bed sheets because they want to save on manpower? It’s embarrassing me, but to whom can I say this to make a change?”

PO, 25: 

“I work at a private emergency medical center. The fact that there aren’t enough nurses on duty is something I’ve already gotten used to. But to save on manpower to the point that they ask me to work as a secretary and to throw out the bins at the end of the shift?? This is a real exploitation.”


 Aiming for a better change?

This article portrays the struggles of a nurse. However, nursing is still a noble profession and, if you are still planning to study nursing, you are part of the future generation. With awareness and gathered voices, a better change can be achieved. If you persist in resisting these unfavorable conditions by raising awareness and by refusing to give in to this unfair reality, you can make a huge change. If you decide not to study nursing anymore, you are also contributing to changing this reality for a better place. A declined number of nursing students may also affect the working conditions positively.

If you are already a nurse, a possible solution can come from a long strike for 1-2 weeks. If voices gather, if people don’t give in to these conditions, there will be an impact. Part of this solution idea is inspired from pharmacists’ resistance against working conditions. Israel lacked between 700 and 1,000 pharmacists. Eventually, their movement led to a positive outcome.

After all, it is important to mention that a better change in work conditions will lead to less medical errors, a better medical service towards the patient through all aspects, and eventually the patient will be more satisfied. 

A few pages don’t fully reflect the difficulty, I wish I could describe the level of hardship to you in a few pages. That’s why I recommend observing the work of nurses in various medical institutions and deciding whether to study nursing or not. I believe everyone has a unique perspective, and maybe my perspective is very different from yours. My story and my experience may open your eyes to many different things; but ultimately you decide which chapters enter your life. You are the master of your own story and journey.

Leave a Comment

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply