5 TIPS FOR PLAYING BIG IN YOUR NURSING CAREER

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“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you..."

“Playing big is not about climbing the ladder within dysfunctional systems. It’s about using your voice to change those systems”

Tara Mohr

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “playing big?”

Taking risks?

Starting a business?

Going against all odds?

Facing challenges and obstacles head-on?

The list could go on and on, but one thing is sure: the world today only favors people who are willing to play big and play big alone.

Now how does that concern nurses?

The nursing profession is, without a doubt, unique in the healthcare industry. 

One filled with diverse roles, specialties, and responsibilities. 

Some of which are still untapped.

And also filled with many drawbacks.

A common drawback is that everyone wants to have an opinion or a say in other nurses’ career journeys.

From the moment you enroll in nursing school, you are told what to do.

During clinical postings, you are told what your career should look like.

After graduation and in the workplace, you are told what a successful career should look like.

Till retirement, nurses all over the world are told what their career should and should not look like.

While this may have its good side, it can harm the nurses.

No two careers are ever the same, and no time and season are ever the same. 

The practice of the nursing profession in the 20th century is quite different from what it is now.

Hearing what your nursing career should look like frequently inhibits the mind, which can potentially affect each nurse’s unique journey, accomplishments, and future gains.

This makes one play small, avoiding risks in fear of making mistakes.

Not putting themselves out there and taking up leadership roles.

Taking whatever poor treatment faced at the workplace out of fear of what the perfect nursing career should be.

In the workplace, nurses take the brunt of healthcare challenges.

Doctors barking orders, patients screaming and being physically abusive, superiors trying to eat their young, it goes on and on.

In turn, we tend to shrink and make ourselves smaller in a bid to pass through the shift peacefully.

And in reality, that does not help anyone.

To have a successful nursing career, you must aim to play big.

You must take risks, face challenges head-on, seek continuous learning, and sometimes, a whole new specialty or department change may be needed.

To play big, you must:

1. Know Yourself: You are the only person who can tell what you need from your career. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and know what you can or cannot handle. No one can tell you what you want out of your career.

2. Pursue your passion: Passion in nursing, especially in the 21st century is a controversial topic. On one hand, some nurses believe nursing is a calling and as such, they have to be passionate about it no matter what. On the other hand, some nurses believe that nursing is a profession and must be treated like any other profession. Irrespective of your stance, you must have or find the passion to build a long-term career in nursing.

3. Take risks: Avoid playing it safe. Working or taking decisions cautiously. Taking risks could involve quitting your job to pursue a Ph.D. degree, leaving one’s own country to attain a status in another country, or applying for a qualified managerial position.

4. Choose your own path: No two journeys are ever the same. They may be similar; however, each person faces and will face different challenges, gain different achievements and as such, be the driver of your own bus. Do not let the advice from people completely change the trajectory of your career, rather, it should supplement or give guidance.

5. Be a lifelong learner: Nurses, by nature of the profession, are lifelong learners. We learn every day. However, be proactive in seeking vital information needed on your journey. Stay abreast of what is trending in the industry. As the popular saying goes: Information is power.

A bonus tip: Set SMART goals. In this article, I talked about how nurses can set SMART goals.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

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