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The Top 100 Most Inspiring Nursing Quotes of All Time

14 Min Read Published June 14, 2023
The Top 100 Most Inspiring Nursing Quotes of All Time

For the days that you just need a little motivation to get through your shift, or you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, sometimes, a perfectly-placed nursing quote might be just the thing you need to keep going. 

As a nurse, you face countless challenges and highs during every shift. Whether caring for a patient at the bedside or getting to know them on an emotional level, many moments make nursing an incredible profession. Amidst these experiences come words of wisdom that can inspire and motivate us. 

Here is our list of 100 powerful nursing quotes to draw strength from when times may seem overwhelming. From Florence Nightingale to modern nurses, these quotes remind us why we chose this fantastic career in the first place! 

100 Best Nursing Quotes

1. “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 celebrate the birth, it is just as important to comfort in death.” - Christine Belle 

2. “When a person decides to become a nurse, they make the most important decision of their lives. They choose to dedicate themselves to the care of others.” - Margaret Harvey 

3. "The character of the nurse is as important as the knowledge she possesses." - Carolyn Jarvis 

4.  "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 

5. “No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this – ‘devoted and obedient.’ This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse. It would not do for a policeman.” - Florence Nightingale 

6. “You treat a disease: You win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you win—no matter the outcome.” - Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams 

7. “Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift-there is nothing small about it.” - Florence Nightingale 

8. “How can anybody hate nurses? Nobody hates nurses. The only time you hate a nurse is when they’re giving you an enema.” - Warren Beatty 

9. “Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon.” - Dag Hammarskjold 

10. “Nurse: just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone.” - Brittany Wilson 

11. “Bound by paperwork, short on hands, sleep, and energy… nurses are rarely short on caring.” - Sharon Hudacek 

12. “The best nurses have the essential qualifications before they go to school.” - Florence Nightingale 

13. “Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on Earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” - Vincent Van Gogh 

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

15. “A nurse dispenses comfort, compassion, and caring without even a prescription.” - Val Saintsbury 

16. "Caring is the essence of nursing." - Jean Watson 

17. "Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness." - Harold Kushner 

18. “Nurses are the heart of healthcare.” - Donna Wilk Cardillo 

19. "Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle." - Plato 

20. “The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest.” - Dr. William Osler 

21. “Nursing is a progressive art such that to stand still is to go backward.” - Florence Nightingale 

22. “A nurse will always give us hope, an angel with a stethoscope.” - Carrie Latet 

23. “It’s okay to learn from every experience, and it’s okay to make mistakes.” - Louise Hay

24. “Nursing school. One syllabus at a time. One class at a time. One exam at a time. One clinical at a time. Keep going…” - unknown

25. “Nature alone cures. ... what nursing has to do ... is to put the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.” - Florence Nightingale 

26. “Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts.” - Charles Dickens 

27. “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” - Judy Blume 

28. “To do what nobody else will do, a way that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through; that is to be a nurse.” - Rawsi Williams 

29. “Nurses are a unique kind. They have this insatiable need to care for others, which is both their greatest strength and fatal flaw.” - Dr. Jean Watson 

30. “Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses … we must be learning all of our lives.” - Florence Nightingale 

31. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” - Dr. Seuss 

32. “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.” - Barack Obama 

33. “Being a nurse means to hold all your own tears and start drawing smiles on people’s faces.” - Dana Basem 

34. "The character of a nurse is as important as the knowledge she possesses." - Carolyn Jarvis 

35. “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 

36. "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi 

37. “A nurse is compassion in scrubs” - Lexie Saige 

38. “Our job as nurses is to cushion the sorrow and celebrate the job, every day, while we are ‘just doing our jobs.’” - Christine Belle 

39. “I did not think of going to give myself a position, but for the sake of common humanity.” - Florence Nightingale 

40. "Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

41. “It is the nurse that the child first hears, and her words that he will first attempt to imitate.” - Quintilian 

42. “Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it we are going back.” - Florence Nightingale 

43. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela 

44. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson 

45. “Every nurse was drawn to nursing because of a desire to care, to serve, or to help.”  - Christina Feist-Heilmeier 

46. “Nurses encompasses an art, a humanistic orientation, a feeling for the value of the individual, and an intuitive sense of ethics, and of the appropriateness of action taken.” - Myrtle Aydelotte 

47. “The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe-how to observe-what symptoms indicate improvement-what the reverse-which are of importance-which are of none-which are the evidence of neglect-and of what kind of neglect.” - Florence Nightingale 

48. "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." -- Earl Nightingale

49. “It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.” - Mother Teresa 

50. “Nurses are like icebergs. At any one time, you are only seeing what they are actually doing.” - Ian Miller 

51. “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” - Derek Bok 

52. “Don’t let anyone treat you like an expired 24 butterfly gauge. You are a #16 in the left forearm with excellent venous return!” - unknown

53. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead 

54. “The world gives you so much pain, and here you are, making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that.” - Rupi Kaur 

55. “Hardships often prepare people for an extraordinary destiny.” - C.S. Lewis 

56. “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” - Florence Nightingale 

57. “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this something, at whatever cost, must be attained.” - Marie Curie 

58. “Finding a good nurse is not just about checking off a list of skills the nurse can perform; it's also about finding someone who is a good fit for your home.” - Charisse Montgomery 

59. “Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.” - Florence Nightingale 

60. “One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.” - Jim Rohn 

61. “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” - Mother Teresa 

62. “Nursing is not for everyone. It takes a very strong, intelligent, and compassionate person to take on the ills of the world with passion and purpose and work to maintain the health and well-being of the planet.” - Donna Wilk Cardillo 

63. “Nurses: one of the few blessings of being ill.” - Sara Moss-Wolfe 

64. “Everything is sketchy. The world does nothing but sketch.” - Florence Nightingale 

65. “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” - Aristotle 66. “I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.” - Clara Barton 

67. “A caress, a smile, is full of meaning for one who is sick. It is a simple gesture, but encouraging; he or she feels accompanied, feels closer to being healed, feels like a person, not a number.” - Pope Francis 

68. “Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.” - H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

69. "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth." - Muhammad Ali 

70. “Confidence is not ‘they will like me,’ confidence is “I’ll be fine if they don’t.” Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.” - T. Harv Eker 

71. “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.” - Florence Nightingale

72. “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy; I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” - Art Williams 

73. “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” - Anthony J. D’Angelo 

74. “I did not think of going to give myself a position, but for the sake of common humanity.” - Florence Nightingale 

75. “Nurses are always there; you care for us from the earliest years. You look after us in our happiest and saddest times. And for many, you look after us and our families at the end of our lives. Your dedication and professionalism are awe-inspiring.” - Duchess Kate Middleton 

76. “The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest.” - William Osler 

77. “I didn't want just any career, so I am not going to be just any nurse.”  - Denise Richards 

78. “Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.“ - Florence Nightingale  

79. “It would not be possible to praise nurses too highly.” - Stephen Ambrose 

80. “Most of all, you need moral courage because nursing is about the pursuit of justice. It requires you to stand up to bullies, to do things that are right but difficult, and to speak your mind even when you are afraid. I wasn’t strong like this when I started out. Nursing made me strong.” - Tilda Shalof 

81. “Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings.” - Thich Nhat Hanh 

82. “May we hope that, when we are all dead and gone, leaders will arise who have been personally experienced in the hard, practical work, the difficulties, and the joys of organizing nursing reforms and who will lead far beyond anything we have done!” - Florence Nightingale 

83. “Panic plays no part in the training of a nurse.” - Elizabeth Kenny 

84. “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” - Maya Angelou 

85. “I attribute my success to this:—I never gave or took an excuse.”- Florence Nightingale

86. “Kindness can transform someone's dark moment with a blaze of light. You'll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.” - Amy Leigh Mercree 

87. “Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed; just make your presence felt.” - Grace Lichtenstein 

88. “Although your educational journey may be difficult at times, you will reap the reward of utmost satisfaction when holding your nursing diploma for the first time—and nothing will ever compare to the fulfillment that improving and saving the lives of others will bring!” - Mikhail Shneyder 

89. “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.” - Florence Nightingale 

90. “Being a nurse is weird: I can keep a poker face through trauma, but have a mental breakdown over losing my favorite pen.”--unknown

91. “The nurse is temporarily the consciousness of the unconscious, the love of life for the suicidal, the leg of the amputee, the eyes of the newly blind, a means of locomotion for the infant, the knowledge and confidence of the young mother, and a voice for those too weak to speak.” - Virginia Henderson 

92. “For the sick it is important to have the best.” - Florence Nightingale 

93. “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - St. Francis of Assisi 

94. “The longer I’m in the profession, the more experiences shape my life, the more amazing colleagues influence me, the more I see the micro and macro power of nursing.” - Joni Watson 

95. “We are each made for goodness, love, and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is when we live with these truths.” - Desmond Tutu 

96. “The world is put back by the death of everyone who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality.” - Florence Nightingale 

97. “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.” - Florence Nightingale 

98. “Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestation of strength and resolution.” - Kahlil Gibran 

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

100. “God appoints our graces to be NURSES to other men’s weaknesses.” – Henry Ward Beecher 

Breann Kakacek
BSN, RN
Breann Kakacek
Nurse.org Contributor

Breann Kakacek BSN RN has been a registered nurse for more than 8 years and a CNA for 2 years while going through the nursing program. Most of her nursing years include working in the medical ICU and Cardiovascular ICU and moonlighting in the OR as a circulating nurse. She has always had a passion for writing and enjoys using her nursing knowledge to create amazing online content.

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