Our CNO dedicated some quality time in a recent meeting to have us explain the “why” behind what brought us into our nursing roles. Despite the many important agenda topics that day, our CNO recognized the value in reconnecting with the purpose that originally drove each of us to enter and serve the nursing profession. That purpose can sometimes blur amid the everyday challenges that dominate our lives. Taking protected time to share our individual “why” not only helped us to better know each other, but also brought clarity to our own personal raison d'être—our reason for being or essential purpose as nurses.
Exploring the personal “why” of being a nurse may be a simple or deeply complex question. For some, the straightforward answer is that nursing is a stable career choice with a high level of job security, variety, and portability. The desire to help people is another common reason—but is that alone enough to survive and thrive in nursing?
I believe some “whys” that bring nurses into the profession aren't always strong enough to withstand the rigors of certain nursing roles. Or maybe some roles aren't a good fit with some “whys.” For example, nurses whose “why” involves building long-term, therapeutic relationships with patients may find urgent care, emergency, or perioperative nursing unfulfilling. Perhaps pursuing a more suitable choice will ultimately lead to greater fulfillment through better alignment of the nursing role and the “why.” Could we help nurses make more informed choices if we explored “why” early enough to provide valuable career guidance?
It's easy to get into a routine doing the same thing each day without reflecting on your personal “why.” Is your original reason still a valid one, or do you have some new “whys” from life experience? Mine evolved from my original purpose to provide excellent life-saving emergency and trauma care as a clinical nurse to leading the broader development of interdisciplinary services and systems that promote high-quality patient-care delivery overall.
Career satisfaction comes from knowing your work is valuable and well aligned with your chosen life's purpose. Get to the heart of “why” to identify roles and career opportunities that will let you better chart your course and savor the journey.
Until next time,
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM, FAAN
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2018 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.