What do you want the legacy of your life and nursing career to be? You actually have control of how that legacy is created and what your future can be!

the road ahead

Photo by Andreas Selter on Unsplash

A blog post from February 26th, 2018 elucidates the idea of your nursing career legacy. Here are some excerpts from that post. And remember to listen to the podcast episode and read the entire post to get the full picture of what I’m conveying to you!

Nurse, what do your patients remember about you? First, they probably don’t remember your name, and that’s almost a certainty. Maybe a special one or two will remember, but most of them will instead recall how you cared for them and touched their lives at a vulnerable time. 

Next, they remember your kindness, the way you looked at them, fluffed their pillow, started an IV with extra care, or made them more at ease in their own home. They may not recall exact moments, but they might say, “You know, when I was in the hospital in 2014, there was this nurse who was so kind to me. I can’t remember who he was, but he really made my hospitalization so much gentler. I wish I could remember his name so I could send him a note. God bless that man.”

Your future self will want to be remembered, if not specifically by your name, than for the care your provided and the energetic imprint you left behind on the lives of your patients and their families.

So, future nurse, what do the last twenty years of nursing look like to you? How do you feel about your career? Did you burn out or did you burn bright? Did you care well or did you end up no longer caring at all?

What do you remember, nurse? Do you remember the kindness of your colleagues or the way they bullied one another? If you witnessed bullying, do you recall stepping in to interrupt that vile behavior, or did you look the other way? Did you speak up or was your very silence an act of complicity? Will you remember standing up to injustice or turning your back when your voice was needed most?

Nurse, did nursing over the last twenty years build you up or tear you down? Was your spirit lifted by your work or diminished by it? Did your body suffer from the stress of your work or did you care for yourself well enough to survive, and possibly even thrive?

A nurse’s life and career are more than the sum of patients cared for and colleagues supported. Your career may involve volunteerism and giving back to your community. I’ve known nurses who fed the homeless and cared for wounded animals. I’ve also known nurses who served on the boards of directors of important non-profit organizations or raised money for favorite humanitarian causes.

 Nurses can have an outsized impact on the wider world, or a quiet but no less crucial impact in small-town America, England, or New Zealand.

If you think about what you will feel and experience in twenty years as you look back on your life and career, what can you do now in order to alter that potential future outcome? How can you approach your work, your colleagues, your patients, and your career in a way that will make you reminisce with pride, joy, intact health, compassion, and fulfillment? How can you be more effective, more involved, more aware of the needs of the world around you?

Think hard, nurse, and consider the future you desire, and then consider how to make that future a reality by acting righteously and authentically in the present moment.

Nurse, the future is yours to create. How will you create a great one?


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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.