Guest Post by Debra James
I don’t know about you, but I had this nursing thing all worked out. I’d put in my 3 years med-surge, then move on to my love of geriatric Alzheimer’s/dementia patients. I’d become the pre-eminent nursing expert for quality dementia care, I’d have a patented system of care, heck – I’d even be a Nobel Prize nominee. The first job I took was on a med-surg geriatric (locked) psych unit. Well I quickly learned that I was a victim of bait & switch: the term med-surg was a technical identifier because whenever these patients required anything more than a salve, Band-Aid, or topical ointment – they were taken by ambulance to the hospital. Did I mention this facility is a STATE facility? Not too certain the purpose was to heal their minds in order for them to be prosecuted for their original crimes, as much as a possible way to maintain current funding? That’s another story for another blog.
So began my search for the next job. I found myself (6 weeks later) headed for a cardiac step-down unit! Say Whaaaaaa? Cardiac was my absolute worst subject in nursing school! Figuring out rhythm strips? Barely survived what was covered in class. Cardiac meds? Oy vey! However, when compared to the psych hospital position, I was more than willing to “suffer for the cause.” I still had primarily geriatric patients and I quickly realized that no matter what type of nursing ‘specialty’ I found myself in, psychiatric issues are universal to ALL areas of nursing practice. Yes, that’s your reality check: you will perform psychiatric nursing wherever you are practicing. It’s just a matter of degrees.
Now you’re probably asking yourself how in the world is this supposed to motivate me to stay in nursing? If anything, I am sooo ready to bounce. Perhaps you should be asking how on earth have I survived 13 years in nursing? It’s very simple.
I consciously choose to reinvent myself. Yup. I yell “plot twist!” and choose to go in another direction. The key word being choose.
If what you thought you wanted to do in nursing doesn’t quite meet your expectations, or imaginations, try it out for at least 2 years. If it’s not a good fit, reinvent yourself. There is no rule that you can’t change your mind and go in another direction. Do a shadow day (or better still a shadow week) in a nursing area about which you have much curiosity. There is no rule that once you pick a specific nursing area of practice you can’t change. Reinvent yourself. Think of how much diverse experience you’ll have under your belt? The more you learn, the more engaged in YOUR career you become. The more engaged you become, the more present you are in your career, in your life and you will develop unshakable self-confidence.
Yes, there MAY be a significant learning curve with each reinvention. Then again, maybe not. You might surprise yourself with abilities and skills you never knew you possessed. You might find a new perspective making it easier for other nurses to better understand. You may develop a new technique, a new device, a new product that enhances and advances nursing practice and/or patient care and outcomes. You just may change the world.
It’s impossible to change the world for the better when feelings of burn-out, anxiety, frustration and all the other heaviness due to lack of joy are continuously pressing down on you, making you think you don’t matter. That your light is too small and insignificant to be missed if it goes dark. The Universe needs light more than ever! The Universe needs YOUR LIGHT! Don’t think about the cost of nursing training. Don’t think about what others will make of your decisions. Don’t think about your income/status/professional influence. Think about YOUR LIGHT! Think about YOUR LIGHT igniting others’ lights.
Think how much fun you can have reinventing yourself, rather than the “wheel.”
Learn. Grow. Light the Universe on FIYAH. I believe in YOU.
About the Author: Debra James BSN, HNB-BC earned her first bachelor’s degree (BA Sociology, Cum Laude) from Howard University in 1984, where she also received an Air Force commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. She earned her nursing degree (BS Nursing) from The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in 2003, and a few months later passed her state licensing exam on the first attempt. She joined the American Holistic Nurses Association in 2004. She has practiced holistically for over 10 years at the bedside, primarily caring for cardiac/telemetry/med-surg patients. She has also cared for hospice patients, patients in physical rehab, and patients in long-term care facilities. You can find out more and connect with Debra via her website, Facebook, or Instagram.