Have you ever given thought to the love-hate-love relationship with your nursing career? Just like our relationships with family members and friends, the relationship we have with our career has its ups and downs, high points and low points. I’ve had a love nursing-hate nursing rollercoaster ride with mine. Here’s my story.
I Love Nursing
There I was, pregnant and getting ready to embark on a career in law. I was already working as a paralegal, but I wanted more. I started researching law schools and scheduled a date to take the LSAT, the entrance exam required for admission. Little did I know, a tiny surprise was about to change my life and career trajectory.
After the 9-week premature birth of my first baby, I couldn’t imagine going back to work full time, let alone choosing a career that would likely require me to work up to 60 hours a week, at least in the beginning. All I wanted was to recover from the experience and cherish every moment with my little spider monkey. (That’s kind of what preemies look like in the beginning and what we nicknamed our daughter!)
At the same time, I was fascinated by the coming together of technology and tenderness I witnessed in the NICU. The nurses seemed to have the best of both worlds: enough intellectual stimulation and technological interface to last a lifetime and the incredible fortune of being able to hold and comfort the most precious darlings imaginable!
My fate was sealed: I would ditch my plan to enter law school in favor of a never-before-imagined career in nursing.
I hired straight into the NICU from nursing school. Being able to say I was a NICU nurse filled me with pride in what I had accomplished. I worked alongside the best NICU nurses and neonatologists in the country.
All I could think was how much I love nursing! The babies, the parents, the hi-tech/high-touch of it all. You know how sometimes you think things happen for a reason? Well, that’s how I felt about delivering prematurely and becoming a NICU nurse. Until things changed.
I Hate Nursing
Any nurse reading this knows: healthcare is big business. Just look at how much emphasis is placed on patient satisfaction scores and customer service. And we all know that achieving Magnet status has less to do with quality care than it does with marketing.
How did productivity become more important than safe, quality care at the bedside? I was disillusioned when I realized that the number of tasks I was able to check off on the chart was more important than how well they were executed. At one facility, it was even hinted that it didn’t matter whether an intervention was performed, as long as it was charted as being done. This was something I refused to do! I started to hate nursing and the career choice I had made.
To be honest, there were times when I wanted to leave nursing altogether. It had left such a sour taste in my mouth. Some nurses I worked with were catty and downright mean. Some healthcare systems seemed to care more about productivity, than the people they served. And honestly, the systems treated nurses like an overhead burden, rather than professional members of the healthcare team.
Finally, the administrative burdens placed on the nurses, along with trying to perform nursing care at the hurried pace required to keep up with productivity demands, extinguished my love for nursing. How could I not hate nursing when it sapped every ounce of my strength and professional integrity? Time to search for something else.
I Love Nursing Again!
In my heart, I knew that most nurses were kind, compassionate people. I also knew there were many opportunities within the profession that I hadn’t yet explored. I just had to find the right one for me, so I could love nursing again.
By this point, I had one daughter in private high school with plans to go to college, and another daughter waiting behind her. Paying for graduate school for myself was not an option. Nor did I want to return to clinical practice within a hospital setting.
After what seemed like an eternity moving about in various nursing positions, I happened upon nurses who were building businesses. I had always imagined the types of businesses I might start, even from a young age. It’s that entrepreneurial bent that many of us have. I sat down and brainstormed all the business ideas I could develop. Oh, I started some and failed! But I never gave up.
I must have spent months examining my various interests, knowledge, skills, and passions to arrive at viable offerings. What I always came back to was teaching. In clinical practice, the opportunity to take a new grad on as a mentee was a privilege I never let pass by. Why I love teaching so much, I even homeschooled my own daughters!
As I explored other ways to be a nurse, I began to love nursing again! I could see different ways to combine my love for teaching with business. After much research, I discovered that I wasn’t the only nurse desperate to find an alternative to clinical practice- one which would also grant the autonomy sought by entrepreneurial types.
Lessons Learned from My Love-Hate-Love Relationship with Nursing
If there’s one thing I learned from my tumultuous love-hate-love relationship with my own nursing career, it’s that if nurses can build rocket ships out of spare bed parts, IV tubing, and microspore tape, then this nurse could reinvent her career!
I was in dire need of finding a creative way to love nursing again. I held onto my belief in the profession as a whole, knowing that I was equipped with valuable skills that were easily transferable.
Nurses can save a dying career faster than you can say, “call a code!” I was able to do just that through nurse entrepreneurship. And now, boy, do I love nursing!
About the Author: Christy Hendricks, RN is a business and marketing consultant for nurse entrepreneurs. She is the owner of Change of Shift, where she helps nurse entrepreneurs with building an online business, strategic marketing, collaborations, branding, and expert positioning. Christy operates an online school by the same name, where nurse entrepreneurs can find training in topics essential to starting and building a successful online presence.