A Normal Coping Mechanism
Let’s talk about fight or flight briefly. A normal reaction that is ingrained in all of us…
As a way to continue the human species and be on the lookout for danger, our brains have evolved over time to overestimate threats, underestimate opportunities, and underestimate resources. It is not our fault- it is simply science. That and a way for us to stay on this wonderful earth for so many years over time.
OK, so what does this mean for us in nursing?
Well, have you ever noticed the nurse’s tendency to focus on what we do not have? In a committee or at a staff meeting- what often happens?
- “We don’t have the budget for that.”
- “We are short staffing.”
- “There are no more IV pumps available.”
- “We don’t have access to a statistician.”
The list goes on and on. The focus is often on what we do not have.
Nursing from Within™
Even as I present Nursing from Within™ across the country, I capitalize on the fight or flight response.
As I lead nurses and nursing students through the four-step PLAY model of Nursing from Within™, I begin by asking them to list out everything that they do not want. This is done purposefully since I have learned from my own mistakes of asking nurses what they want and receiving blank stares or confused expressions.
It can be difficult for us to articulate exactly what it is that we want! Why? Well, our coping mechanisms keep us safe.
- We start to rationalize what we truly want as something that will never come to fruition.
- We make excuses like “There is no such dream job out there like that; I might as well settle…”
- We question our own abilities, resources, and timing- ultimately putting off goals or procrastinating further.
- We are so used to focusing on what we do not want that we forget how to see things in the ideal!
The Profession of Nursing is A Gift
If we would like to enjoy our careers as nurses, then maybe we need to look at things with a new lens. Instead of consistently focusing on what we do not like about our jobs, why not focus on what we do love about being a nurse!?
I see the very fact that I am a nurse as something to be grateful for. In fact, I view this career… with all of its difficulties, challenges, and hardships… as an opportunity. A blessing, even! So…
1. Nursing Provides Growth Opportunities.
You wanted life-long learning? You got it! The profession of nursing is always changing. There are new evidence-based procedures being published on a daily basis. A chance to go back to school for further education is always at your fingertips. If you are feeling bored as a nurse, it is time to open your eyes and look around! Never be stuck in your nursing career again… Go back to school. Take a workshop on communication styles. Listen to a podcast, like Your Next Shift, for nursing education and inspiration. The sky’s the limit!!
2. Nursing Networks Are Motivating.
Sure, we can surround ourselves with negative nurses who love to complain. That certainly is a choice. Or, we can look for those people we aspire to be like. As a nurse, I am so grateful to those who are more accomplished or established than I am. I look up to these nurses with admiration and respect… and am motivated to keep growing to be the best nurse that I can be! Nursing networks that are encouraging and supportive are available to each and every nurse. You just have to look for them and then take action to join!
3. A Nurse’s Opportunity is Endless.
I have shared in my talks, on the podcast, and in my books that nursing was not my first career choice. And yes, I was gently nudged by several others to enter into the field… And I sure am grateful that I listened to them! This career is one of endless opportunity. I have worked inpatient hospital nursing, out in the community at a gym, and in nursing administration- in just a little under 13 years as a nurse! And now… Look at me go! I get to speak, educate, write, and teach. I travel and meet interesting people all across the country. I am so thankful that I am a nurse because I know with this degree the doors are all open to me!!
4. Nurses Impact Lives.
When I hear a nurse saying something like, “Well, I was just doing my job…” I want to SCREAM “Stop that now!” Yes, of course you ARE doing your job. But do you realize how important your job is? How tough it is? How other people look at what you do and would run for the hills? You make a difference in other people’s lives. You truly touch a human being, sometimes saving their life. You may never know exactly how many people you impact. However, when you do get that special, heartfelt “Thank you”… Take it. Embrace it. Let the tears stream down your face in pride. You are a nurse and you ROCK!!! You are impacting lives and the sheer presence of your being with that person… Wow, what a difference you make!
5. A Nursing Career is Success.
Sure, I hear about nurses making a lot less money than they are worth. And- at the same time- for all of the reasons listed above… if you feel that you do not make enough money for what your value is by being a nurse… Then find another job! It may just be the area that you live in and the cost of living that equates to the salaries being set. OK, that aside. Why did I list this one here? Because, I am. On a daily basis, I look around my home and at all of the things I have or the experiences I have enjoyed… And I thank my career. I see people my own age who do not have enough money to go out to a nice dinner or attend a concert with friends. I am so grateful for all that I have and I know that my life is full. And to couple with all of the reasons above, if I want to make more money or have new experiences… I can go back to school, take a course, or get further training or coaching. And I know that I will be paid wonderfully for the work that I put in. I am so blessed. My material possessions are abundant. I am grateful for everything that I have and attribute it all to my nursing career success.
Let’s hear from you! What do you love about nursing? What aspects of your nursing career are you grateful for? Let’s shift the focus from what we do not have to what we do and enjoy our nursing careers today!
About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week program, The Art of Nursing, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.