You’ve heard of all the different ways to prevent nurse burn-out and stagnation. Forget mid-career, I was disillusioned in my second year of bedside nursing on a Med/Surg unit and sorely needed a change of pace when I finally transferred to Labor and Delivery in 1989.
Isn’t the diversity of nursing and all the choices that come with it, why so many of us become nurses to begin with?
One of the biggest perks I looked forward to when I was in school was the demand for good nurses everywhere and the ability to travel the world over. Turns out I’m a bit of a homebody; consequently I wound up staying in L&D at Ventura County Medical Center for over twenty-five years. There I took on a different journey and battled burn-out by staying in action.
#1: Honor the rumblings of dissatisfaction. There’s a big difference between work and drudgery. The first part of every solution is the realization that there is a problem. Being complacent of the status quo is a great way to ignore the ditches and go flying off the road of happiness. A better option is to take note of the conditions around you that need improvement and move forward with a plan for change.
I’m sure that if I had ignored my discontent during the short-staffing crisis of the ‘90s, I would’ve turned into a miserable nurse who hated her job. Instead, I have better working conditions and the self-esteem earned from my hard work on the California RN’s Safe Staffing Bill that went into law in 1999.
#2: Look for Greener pastures. Moonlighting or working for a registry make for great ways to try other hospitals to see if the management of a different organization is a better fit. I can say I’ve worked at every major hospital within a 15 mile radius of VCHCA and I’ve found that there’s no place like home. Empowering the patients at VCMC and the reopening of Santa Paula Hospital has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Besides, once you’ve worked in a teaching hospital amongst the brightest doctors in the nation, it’s hard to go anywhere that isn’t cutting edge.
#3: Advance your education. In 1991, I started working on my BSN and Public Health Certificate where the wonders of education opened the flood gates of possibility. In every classroom there are professors and students from all walks of life. There’s nothing as enriching as diversity and believe me for every different personality out there, thousands of exciting combinations can be cultivated. There’s no limit to what there is to learn.
#4: Network to build relationships. I didn’t even have to look for my teaching job at Ventura College. Out of sheer respect for my years of expertise and my reputation, the dean came looking for me! Even though this is usually not the case, with social media the way we get information has changed the world. Today there are no excuses for not knowing what is going on in your local nursing community and around the world.
Did you know that nurses are awesome? One nurse invented a better way to deliver oxygen to infants. Don’t take my word for it go to http://t.co/G5SnW9kMLu and see for yourself. I belong to Twitter and Linkedin. My followers and those I follow are a rich source of understanding outside what is being told on FOX News.
#5: Become Active in nursing associations. Why is it that nurses don’t participate in their professional organizations? If it weren’t for the political actions of these committees, nurses would still be in the Stone Age. If each of us gave an hour a week to write to our congressmen, support nurse lobbyists or write an article for a local newsletter, nurses would be the rich source of leadership that directs healthcare policy. Instead, we have a reform act that had very little to do with nursing’s input.
So whether you decide to change jobs or stay put, a pound of prevention is still the greatest cure for a nursing mid-career crisis; and this comes from your willingness to look at the mysteries of what makes you passionate about your career. Asking questions like: How can I make a difference? What do I bring to the table? These are the never-ending enticements that enrich the nursing profession.
Come Monday, September 7, 2013 at 9 A.M. and join me and the VCHCA’s Professional Performance Committee at Mimi’s Café on Main St. in Ventura, where we can talk about what’s coming up with your career at VCHCA.
Avoid a career crisis. Become the change you want for your future.