On November 27th, 2017, I published a blog post titled “Your Nursing Career Legacy.” Your legacy is an open book and can be anything you want it to be. What can you imagine you’d like to leave behind you as a nursing professional?
In the aforementioned blog post, I discussed several types of nursing legacies:
- The relational legacy
- The clinical legacy
- A leadership legacy
- An informational or educational legacy
- An organizational legacy
Here are some excerpts for each type of nursing legacy:
For many nurse clinicians, the nurse-patient relationship is at the center of their nursing work. Some nurses keenly focus on relational and emotional intelligence throughout their careers, and their raison d’etre can be largely driven by creating strong, healthy therapeutic relationships with patients and their families.
As a nurse working in the clinical space, you may find yourself wholly satisfied by the excellent relationships you develop with your patients. Being a loving and compassionate guide to women undergoing breast cancer treatment may be the pinnacle of your work as a nurse — there may be nothing else you want to do and nowhere else you’d like to be.
A clinical legacy has to do with having an impact in the clinical space in relation to what we nurses actually do. For instance, you may be a nurse clinician who thrives on finding innovative methods for improving workflow. You may be a deep thinker in areas related to nursing interventions, clinical outcomes, or daily operations on a nursing unit.
Your clinical legacy may come in the form of clinical research, drafting white papers, creating new workflow patterns, or even inventing products that make nurses’ lives easier.
Leadership is relational, but it deserves its own category in terms of your nursing legacy. The power of a nurse leader’s legacy can be multifaceted and far-reaching, with ripples forming a widening circle of influence.
Leadership can have influence close to home, and also an outsize influence worldwide. Florence Nightingale comes to mind as a nurse leader whose impact continues through the centuries. Your legacy doesn’t have to be half the size of Nightingale’s to be important — it just needs to be important to you and those who are positively influenced by it.
The nursing profession would never have risen to its current level of recognition and professional accomplishment without nurses who were dedicated to educating others. Nursing education is the heart of our efforts to expand and enrich the profession, and it is essential to our profession producing the next generation of nurse leaders and clinicians.
The potential impact of the legacy of an effective nurse educator cannot be overstated. If you’re a nursing professor who spends decades educating and inspiring nursing students to embrace their chosen profession with dedication and the highest level of professionalism, that is indeed a legacy with legs.
Some nurses remain an integral part of an organization for years, becoming an increasingly important facet of what that organization represents in the world.
Your nursing legacy may spring from your contributions to the life of the place where your work each day. Whether you take part in research, patient care, nurse education, information technology, or administration or executive leadership, you can also leave an organizational legacy. Whether you pass through a healthcare facility or agency for one year or twenty years, the significance of your impact could be immeasurable.
Your career, your legacy:
The tenor and color of your nursing career legacy is yours to create. Your legacy may have more to do with patients than with other nurses, or more with research and theory than clinical practice. The what and how are entirely up to you.
Every career can have a legacy, although some are more quiet than others in terms of the splash they make and the ripples that that splash creates. Your legacy can be fed and watered throughout your nursing career, so consider what you would like to create and set about putting the pieces in place to leave the legacy that means the most to you.
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