Apply Nursing from Within™ to Your Nursing Career
I received an email from a nurse, asking me for help. Now, I will share parts of the note below, but due to its length and the fact that I aim to protect the identify of anyone reaching out to me for help… I won’t copy the entire email word-for-word here.
Here it is…
I have been a nurse on the same unit for XXX years now and have come a long way. As you well know, nursing is a field with a lot of unpredictable events and different personalities. I am an introvert and type A personality and so, in the beginning, I had a hard time reacting to and managing stressful situations. Over time, I feel I’ve learned to cope well with and manage my stress levels as a bedside nurse. But the area of nursing I have not yet grappled with is being a charge nurse.
I have always preferred to be in the background. People know they can depend on me to get things done. I enjoy working hard and taking care of my patient group– spending time with my patients and connecting with them, helping them progress, fulfills me. I would rather take the hardest patient group and plug away all day with getting them back on track than be in charge. As an introvert and more gentle spirit, I can’t stand confrontation. The hardest thing for me about being in charge is that no matter how hard you try, there will always be one person who is dissatisfied with the assignment or with their patient group.
I find I get flustered easily when I’m in charge. My manager came up to me once and complimented me on how well I was dealing with the day and on how calm I looked. I told her that I was freaking out on the inside and that I was glad it wasn’t apparent. She told me she always thought I enjoyed being in charge, that I did such a great job, and that’s why they had me in charge so much.I often feel that all of the interpersonal stressors distracts me from making good decisions. I don’t feel like I am good at being in charge at all. My self esteem drops so much when I’m in charge, but I love when I am a bedside nurse.
So my question is– do you think this means I should not be in charge and ask management to consider letting me step down from being charge, or are there ways I can work through this? How can I create emotional boundaries with my coworkers when I’m in charge and not get overwhelmed by their stress and the demands of my responsibilities as well?
While I plan to respond below (or this wouldn’t be a blog post, smile), I would love to hear from others as well! Share in the comments section underneath this blog the advice that you would offer to this nurse questioning their charge nurse abilities.
Nursing from Within™ in Action
For this response, I would like to take us through an actual application of Nursing from Within™, to get to the answer. Because, as I always share in my writing, audio, videos, and emails… I cannot tell YOU the answer. I can support you in finding it, but the truest response will come from the nurse inside of you.
First things first… pause. Breathe. Exhale. It will all be OK.
Stressing out over being charge or not, worrying about confrontations before they even come to you, and filling yourself with anxiety around your manager and other staff perceptions of you will only make it worse.
This is a great opportunity to pause and practice presence in the moment.
Some ways you might slow down could include: journaling about your thoughts and feelings, sitting quietly in nature and contemplating your insights, or simply going through a mindfulness exercise to bring yourself back to the present moment.
I can tell you this- worrying about a confrontation, one that has not even happened yet, is dwelling on it. When you think about something over and over again, you give it energy. You actually do the exact opposite from what you want… which is bring it closer to you! So, let’s just slow down and take some deep breaths. It will all be OK.
Don’t Want Informs Do Want
Next, I encourage you to get out a blank sheet of paper. It’s list time. Come on… you all know that nurses LOVE making lists!
First, write down everything you do not want to do, be, have, or experience in your nursing career. In this specific example, write down all of the reasons you do not want to run charge nurse.
Maybe things like:
- I don’t want to experience confrontation.
- I don’t want to get stressed out.
- I don’t want to make a mistake.
- I don’t want to feel anxious.
Go on. Make your own list. (Those reading, use your own nursing career example if running charge is not an issue for you.)
Now, flip it and reverse it! (Love me that Missy Elliott song.)
Take each “don’t want” statement and state the exact opposite. Now, here’s the catch. Go with the EXACT opposite. The first thing that pops to mind. Not what your rational, logical mind thinks. No, no. Just the exact opposite that you hear rolling off of your tongue (yes, I encourage you to do this part of the exercise aloud). Go with your gut!
So, if we were using the above, it would go something like this…
- If I don’t want to experience confrontation, then what I do want is a peaceful shift.
- If I don’t want to get stressed out, then what I do want is to show up carefree and easy-going.
- If I don’t want to make a mistake, then what I do want is to be confident.
- If I don’t want to feel anxious, then what I do want is to feel calm.
Your Best Nurse
This is all leading up to supporting your nurse within.
The next thing you want to do is take that do want list above and use it to support your highest intention. So, in front of each statement add the words, “I choose to…” and you have yourself some intentional affirmations.
I choose to work a peaceful shift. I choose to show up to work carefree and easy-going. I choose to be confident. I choose to feel calm at work. Those are your intentions. Crafted from your heart’s desires and highest self (if you did what I said which was to not sensor your “do want” statements).
Read these aloud daily, looking at yourself in the mirror. You will be amazed at how quickly shifts happen!
The Alternative to Nursing from Within™
So, what if you do not want to do the above steps? What if running charge (or your nursing career challenge) continues to be an issue for you?
While I do believe in the power of the Nursing from Within™ process, I also realize that charge nurse (in our example) is not for everyone. There are things that no matter how much I talk to myself in the mirror happens, I would NEVER do as a nurse. Like the blood and guts stuff, y’all loyal readers know I cannot STAND!
In this case, I would be honest with yourself and your manager/colleagues. Figure out what your strengths are. Know what you enjoy and do not like. Tap into your unique skills and assets.
And then… rather than keeping these to yourself, take them a step further. Tell others about them!
Niche Down in Nursing
In this video, I discuss the barriers related to “doing it all” as a nurse. And then highlight the importance of finding your niche in nursing.
If you tell your manager that you do not like charge nurse, there will definitely be another nurse on the team who does. And let me point one thing out… Do NOT go into your manager’s office, just saying “I do not like charge and I don’t want to do it.”
Trust me, managers HATE this. Instead, go into your manager’s office with a solution. Tell him or her that you do not like charge, why this is (sharing specific examples), and then offering your solution of what you can do instead (and why it would benefit the unit).
I hope that this advice was helpful to you. In fact… Let’s discuss below…
Have you ever had a role in nursing that you just did not like or could not do? If so, what did you do about it? What advice would you share with a nurse who is struggling with an aspect of his or her nursing career? Share below and thanks for reading!
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.