A few years ago I was working late when a co-worker said, “Why are you still here? It’s not like we’re curing cancer.” The reason was simple: it’s in my nature to focus intensely and invest significantly regardless of what I’m doing. This conversation prompted questions like: Am I making a difference in the world? Am I doing something I’m passionate about? When I’m old, will I have regrets about how I invested my time?
The conclusion to my soul search was that I wasn’t in the right career despite my success. I decided I wanted a career that allowed me to be empathic, strengthen others, distribute information/knowledge, be an advocate, and make a long-term impact on people. This change required significant sacrifice: I resigned from a high-paying position, relocated, moved from living by myself to living with family, and am utilizing my savings to go back to school.
After eight months in nursing school, I’m thrilled to say that nursing meshes more naturally with who I am than I ever hoped or expected. Here’s how:
Nurses look at the whole person including their emotional, psychosocial, and physical needs. As a nurse, empathy allows me to quickly hear what a patient is saying, brainstorm through a bunch of potential solutions, and identify the best strategy I can use to help.
Nurses advocate for patient needs and for the needs of the community. In many healthcare settings, a patient is completely and utterly dependent on others to do simple tasks they would normally do for themselves. It’s an honor to be able to represent these needs and ensure they get what they need.
The more patients I work with, the more convinced I am about the importance of empowering others. I am constantly looking for opportunities that allow patients to exert some level of control in an otherwise out-of-control experience.
Nurses educate patients. I am passionate about the human body and fascinated by disease processes and treatments. I love educating patients about what’s happening with their bodies and what they can do about it.
Nursing offers unlimited variety. There are so many different roles, settings, and specialties. There are so many things to learn. When I tackle a challenge there will always be another challenge on the horizon (and that’s just how I like it).
Overall, I’ve determined that I want to support patients and families who are unexpectedly experiencing some of the hardest days of their lives. I want to be challenged to become the best of the best. This is the kind of work that will allow me to look back and say that I lived a life that was meaningful.