Back on October 24th of 2016, I published a blog post entitled, “Genius is Relative, Nurses!” I wrote that blog post because so many nurses seem to feel “less than”, diminished by the fact that they don’t have this or that skill. Some nurses feel don’t feel like “real” nurses because they’re not in the ICU or CCU. Friends, it’s time to accept your own expertise because you need to
own your genius, nurses!
Are you a nurse who sometimes beats herself up because you’ve focused so much on your specialty practice area that you’ve lost touch with other aspects of nursing? Are you highly skilled at reading ECGs but couldn’t interpret an ABG (arterial blood gas) if your life depended on it? Are you a nurse business owner completely removed from the clinical world? There are all kinds of nurses out there, and you really can’t know everything, even if you’re a real life nurse polymath. Genius is relative, and we all have our own unique brilliance and gifts to bring to the table.
And I asked these questions:
Does an electrician feel less worthy because she doesn’t know how to pour a concrete foundation or install a hot water heater?
Is deep low self-esteem experienced by a pastry chef who doesn’t know how to make a perfect paella?
Did Albert Einstein hate himself because he didn’t know how to tune up his own car?
If there are aspects of nursing that you grieve not having under your belt, you can fix that if you want to. If your venipuncture skills are rusty and you’d like to get them back again, uou can take a refresher course. If you’ve been in the ER for years but now want to do something else, you can.
Remember my my podcast episode about nurse polymaths? You don’t need to know everything; you just need to know what you need and want to know, and if that includes making a paella and tuning up your car, so be it. Don’t get hung up on what you don’t know; remind yourself of your own brand of genius!
Don’t hurt yourself with low low nursing self-esteem, and don’t allow narrow-minded nurses undermine your confidence as they question the very value and worth and who you are as a nurse.
None of us can have every nursing skill, and the world needs nurses who do many different things. If every nurse only worked in the hospital, we wouldn’t have school nurses, nurse researchers, clinic nurses, and home health nurses. We are all important, and we can’t allow some narrow definition of what it means to be a nurse to lower our own sense of self-worth as nursing professionals.
In the aforementioned blog post, I wrote:
An infusion nurse who takes five years off to work as a school nurse may not be able to keep her venipuncture skills sharp, but is that truly important to her? Does she simply acknowledge that she’ll get those skills back when and if she needs them, or does her self-esteem plummet and send her into a professional existential crisis?
If a nurse decides that, after 42 years at the bedside, she’s ready to teach and do research, is she any less of a nurse when she makes that career shift?
Nurses, you need to do what is relevant, inspiring, life-giving, and meaningful to you. When a seismic shift hits your nursing career and you’re ready to make a change (or if you’re forced to change by virtue of an injury or other factor), there is an understandable impact on your professional nursing identity.
Thirty years in ICU or CCU will get into your blood, and your nursing identity will be bound up with your chosen specialty. However, when changes come down the pike and you switch to a new area of focus, your identity will need to adjust to the new reality as your ego struggles to remain intact.
Accept what you don’t know, learn what you need and want to learn, and internalize the value of who you are and what you do in every moment.
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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith was also a resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.