When asked in nursing school what type of nurse I wanted to be, my reply was always the same, “I’m not sure yet.” And the person asking said question would invariably give me a look of bewilderment. It was as if not knowing was a ridiculous concept. When asked why they looked this way, many told me, “you have to know what you want to do or you are wasting your time.”
I knew I wanted to be a nurse (that was certain), but the exact setting was unknown to me. I enjoyed caring for children and adults. No particular patient population stirred an interest. It wasn’t as if I had a background in medicine. I worked in retail before beginning nursing school. My parents were not in the medical field. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew nursing was a passion of mine. I felt that was enough and I never looked back. It wasn’t until I progressed through my courses, that I found my passion for critical care. I trusted my heart and let it lead me exactly where I needed to be. People act as if you must know what the path will bring you or you’re a fool. I disagree completely.
Too often, people want to know what you plan on doing in your nursing journey. They want specific details. It calms them to know you have a plan in place and your path is laid out before you. The problem with thinking in this manner is this strategy lacks the opportunity of discovery. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I was open to experiences and learning different things from varying specialties. I had a classmate who knew she wanted to work with neonates, nothing else would suffice. During our adult clinicals, she expressed this and the nursing staff engaged with her less and less. She made a point to tell everyone the adult experience was of no importance to her professional journey. The adult nursing staff, therefore, lost interest in her educational process. I respect anyone who knows what they want to do but, I encourage students never to close their minds to new experiences.
Allow yourself the opportunity to discover what you love about nursing. Don’t assume you already know, don’t allow yourself to build up walls in your mind – life is unpredictable and evolving. Every time I thought I had my professional path planned out and established, a twist would come and change my entire outlook. My interest in nursing changed weekly in nursing school, and that was okay. You can’t control what aspect of nursing inspires you, but you can control discovery and embrace possibility. Your nursing journey will have obstacles and unknowns. Allow yourself to find your true passion. Allow yourself to be present and invest in what you want to do in life, not what you should do. There are many nursing opportunities, don’t settle because others think it’s a “smart” move.
Once you discover what your passion is, accept its newness and walk into the experience knowing it will change you. Nursing isn’t just a profession for me. It’s changed who I am and how I see life. Nursing isn’t sterile and cold. It’s people helping people. Nursing is complicated, but there isn’t anything like it. Allow the process of education and training to shape who you are and who you want to be. Grow and develop while you help people in your community. Do not fear the unknown. Walk into the darkness with your head held high. I was a server (a terrible one) before I became a nurse. I had no idea what “real” nursing involved. I only knew what I felt in my heart. I used my fear of the unfamiliar to it push me to act when I was uncomfortable. Push past discomfort. Nursing is something special and well worth it, in my opinion.
By mastering the nursing profession, I’m not talking about certifications or degrees. I’m talking about the act of nursing, the art of the head-to-toe assessment and collaborating with other disciplines. Nursing is an art, an energy based on education and intuition. Once you find your passion and develop your nursing foundations and skill set, mastery will follow. You can’t master what you lack in enthusiasm. You can’t master what you refuse to cultivate. Yes, nursing is a profession with many opportunities. But many people leave because they genuinely don’t have a passion for it. It’s not for everyone. I understand and respect anyone who has the guts to know what they need. We all have different ambitions and want different things out of life. Take the time to discover, develop and master what you love. Your inner-self will thank you. Plan on nothing but loving what you do and being true to yourself.