When I started my Interventional Radiology (IR) job, I was disappointed with my stance in life. I was 25 years old and still shocked by my forced withdrawal from school. It seemed as if I had no objective or career goal. There was no more “next step,” no other school to apply for. I had already attained my CCRN and CEN credentials, along with the stroke and TNCC certifications (which turned out to be useless). I wondered how I could find fulfillment as a nurse.
Predictably, I began to fantasize about other fields. What if I were to quit nursing and become a doctor? What if I were to quit my job and just become an entrepreneur? The “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome was hitting me with full force. Little did I know that doctors and entrepreneurs think to themselves “I should have just been a nurse.”
Suddenly, the solution slapped me in the face. I saw that the key to finding fulfillment in my career was aligning my natural disposition with my job role. That is, the secret was to use my strengths in whatever job I already had. The secret was NOT to run off and find an ideal job (An ideal job doesn’t exist. Any “job” will make you want to “Jump Off a Bridge.” Hence the term “job.”).
A personality assessment (PA) I took at 23 predicted that I would be the most satisfied in careers where I coached, counseled, and taught people. According to the PA, I was an extroverted, investigative, and entrepreneurial type of person. That said, the PA predicted that I would not like a career in health care. My lowest scores fell in the realms of nursing, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and respiratory therapy. Yikes!
What about my highest scores? The PA predicted that I would enjoy being a life insurance salesman, elementary school teacher, nursing home administrator, or instructional coordinator. I realized that in order for me to take ownership in my career, I needed to transition from being procedurally based to effecting positive change through the spoken word.
Wow! No wonder I had been so miserable in graduate school and in the ICU (pardon my gayness). These environments rarely gave me an opportunity to coach patients and to develop positive relationships. Because I was obsessed with completing my tasks and avoiding termination, I completely neglected the extraverted side of me that enjoyed coaching and teaching others. Perhaps the biggest lesson in the past five years was to act like a life insurance salesman, coordinator, and teacher in my job. Nursing will not change for me. The only way for things to change was for ME to change.
I began to act like a coach and teacher in my IR job. As I shifted my focus away from strictly following procedures to developing relationships with patients, I started enjoying my job more. I stopped complaining about being a nurse and started to enjoy being a nurse.
What’s the lesson for you? You have to find out what makes you tick. Take a personality test or visit a career center for a career evaluation. After taking this assessment, I gained insight on how people view me and how I stack up against other people in key personality traits. Most importantly, I learned what kind of social environments/triggers piss me off, and I created strategies to avoid anger triggers in my career. All that said, I wanted to be clear that the test costs around $10. I have no relationship with the administrators, and I don’t gain anything when you click the link. I’m just saying that I found value in the test.
Once you know your strong suits, act out such roles in your nursing job, if possible. In this way, you’ll leverage your strengths.
Using your gifts is the best way to find fulfillment in your career.
If you’re really into research, then you could get a Phd in nursing.
If you’re very introverted and like solving puzzles, being a CRNA could be a great route for you.
If you’re investigative and entrepreneurial, you might consider becoming a nurse educator/consultant.
You get the the drift…now make it happen! Don’t expect nursing to be a satisfying job. You have to make the satisfaction happen within the career. Play to your strengths.