“Growth is uncomfortable because you’ve never been here before-you’ve never been this version of you. So give yourself a little grace and breathe through it.” Kristen Lohr
As nurses, we often struggle appreciating where we are in our careers. We are encouraged to continually enhance our skill set. Whether it’s to learn a new specialty, go on to advance practice or any of the multitude of other options available to us.
We often articulate where we are in practice by indicating how long we’ve been nurses. We are either brand new ‘baby’ nurses, or ‘lifers’, or many others in between. I personally, am of the nomad variety. I move unit to unit, or hospital to hospital every couple of years. We must remember that we are so much more than that. Our gifts cannot be measured by years or certifications. Our gifts lie within ourselves and in our capacity for growth and change. The technical skills associated with our jobs are incredibly important, but it’s our willingness to grow and mold in to who we’re meant to be that makes us truly special.
As children we are continually asked what we want to be when we grow up. As if ‘growing up’ is the goal we are all moving toward but never get to. Not having an answer is the absolute wrong answer. After years of not finding my answer to that question in my practice, or in life for that matter, I looked for a better question. I found a question that spoke to me on a more personal level. It’s the question that has challenged me to grow in ways I never would have considered. It has lead me down unexpected paths, roads less traveled and to learning opportunities I never would have anticipated. That question is, where do I want to be when I grow?
Growth is necessary. Frankly in nursing, growth is imperative to keep us relevant and effective. In knowing that necessity is key, it became my purpose to reclaim my joy. That knowing, gave me what I needed to care for others with my best self. The growth phase was hard, and purposeful growth continually takes deliberate energy and decision to take me to where I want to be. Knowing the necessity of growth however, has helped me view the hard phases with new eyes. It guided me to see that something being really hard now, doesn’t mean it will be hard forever. I just need to change to accommodate it.
Growing within our practice can be looked at as a form of self-care. Self-care is often difficult for many nurses to achieve. We commonly get stuck under the weight of both work and personal obligations, and forget to take time for ourselves. If we utilize growth within ourselves through our practice though, we cover both areas. We become better caregivers while also caring for our souls by enhancing our skill set in a personally valuable way.
I know I’ve been to conferences, listened to lectures and had required digital learning that were far from my interests. Engaging in learning environments like those had become nearly impossible for me. I had become bored and uninspired, I needed to change my direction. So I began seeking learning opportunities that drew me in. Education that spoke to me in ways that inspired me to seek more from my practice. I shifted how I viewed my growth in nursing. Once I removed my self imposed limits of merely obtaining continuing education, my desire for learning became nearly insatiable. Once again, I began to honor my gifts, not just my technical skill.
I’m not alone in the desire to be a happier nurse. We are all yearning to be better and more effective caregivers. We all want to have joy, and bring joy to those we care for. I understand how scary it is to step up and lead yourself toward a more fulfilling practice. While it would have been easier for me to remain quietly uninspired with the masses, I wouldn’t have been happy. In turn, through honoring the gifts that are only mine, everyone benefits.
So go out, find conferences that grab your attention. Decide to seek out opportunities that fulfill your soul and not merely a list of requirements. How will you embrace your education to honor your gifts? Will you accept the challenge I pose to you to care for yourself and grow actively in your nursing practice? I hope you will, you won’t regret it!