Through all the changes in the 21st century, nurses remain the backbone and lifeblood of healthcare. I am passionate about nursing and am confident nurses will continue to have myriad opportunities that will help build successful careers. But two things that I see as most central to having a satisfying nursing career over the long haul is authenticity and the drive to continue learning.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken,” and this could not be truer for nurses. In a world of increasing corporatization and centralization, we can sometimes feel like cogs in someone else’s quickly spinning wheel, while we’re just trying to provide excellent patient care.
If you feel it’s important to hold a patient’s hand, heed your authentic intuitive nature and do it. While holding a hand may not yield an earth-shattering revelation, you never know how such a simple act may reverberate through the patient’s mind and heart for days. Sure, those few moments may throw off your tight schedule, but small acts of authentic kindness can change the tenor of your day, your patients’ experience and how you feel about your career.
Authenticity comes in many forms, from having a frank conversation with a patient to going the extra mile to support a colleague in need of a shoulder. Being true to yourself, your career, your motivations and your professional and human aspirations are an intrinsic part of who you are.
Cultivate a lifelong curiosity
As a nurse, you obviously need to earn continuing education hours to renew your license. You should study the latest evidence base for emergency triage, central-line dressing care and so on, since that type of learning is crucial to your practice. But there is so much more.
Nurses who work with patients also can be students of the human condition, choosing to continue learning about people, their motivations, their aspirations and how life challenges us daily.
Aside from learning about new insulin pumps and antibiotics, nurses also can seek out experiences and knowledge that will assist them in being better at their jobs, as well as better people in the context of human relationships. When we more fully understand culture, psychology, art, literature, politics, socio-economics and society at large, we can increase our capacity for understanding, empathy and compassion.
So be authentic and go wherever your curiosity takes you. Continue to learn about life and the ways in which nurses can contribute to the empowerment and well-being of others. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.
This is my last blog as Nurse.com’s official career blogger. But you can continue to find my career advice on Nurse.com/Blog. It has been a privilege to contribute to this robust online nursing community. May you all continue to grow and find success as nurses.
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