Reflections on Nursing & Work-Life Balance

Was it All Worth it?

Rolling into May is exciting for me this year! On my birthday, I reflected on the years of being a mother, being an adult student, wife, and bedside nurse and wondering…. Was it all worth it? Did I truly have an enjoyable life? The quick answer is yes! I am a very positive person to the outside world. What I don’t tell are the stories of difficulty, turmoil, challenges, and tragedy. But we all have these times in our lives. Through it all though, it has been worth it. My years of nursing helped me with most of my challenges. My education taught me how to identify a problem and put it into words. I am extensively trained in putting a goal statement together for improvement and identifying ways or implementing interventions to improve the problem, then in a set amount of time review my actions and revise if needed. I had watched enough Oprah and Dr. Phil in my life to know I should follow these steps in every aspect of life. It has served me well!

Lessons for Navigating a Nursing Career

Different stages of my life helped me identify the best nursing role to help me meet my goals. I have worked in all types of roles, which has been valuable to where I am today. Just like yourselves, I experienced periods of burnout, resulting in changes of my nursing career. This would happen more when I was younger. As I matured and learned better ways to care for myself and deal with challenges, I was able to avoid burnout. When I meet nurses experiencing tough times, I encourage them to explore alternative nursing roles beyond the bedside, which can incorporate their education and experience, just like I did.

Burnout Rates in Nursing

I am happy that I never exited nursing at my highest burnout period. Currently, the exit rate of bedside nurses is alarmingly high. It is vital to prioritize nurses’ needs to retain them in this essential profession. Today’s nurses do not have the support of Oprah and Dr. Phil to learn strategies for success and reworking their career plan to meet their current needs. Managers are overworked and unable to see the signs, causing the feeling of unworthiness and consistent problem of ghosting in nursing. The nurses of today need skills to explore their profession and reignite their passion.

The pandemic has been a significant contributor to nurse burnout, but other factors also need to be considered. Newer nurses often have unrealistic expectations of bedside nursing, leading them to transition to other nursing areas. Nursing programs developed to solve workforce crises across our country also may lack focus on the depth of care planning skills I was given, and support to recognize how to use this in my own life. In contrast, experienced nurses need a break from the emotional and physical toll of bedside nursing. Furthermore, many nurses seek career growth and a better work-life balance, prompting them to explore other nursing roles, like my journey through the nursing profession.

Explore Opportunities & Follow Your Passion

There are several nursing specialties beyond bedside nursing, such as flight nursing, health policy nursing, infection control nursing, telehealth nursing, and nurse education. These specialties offer nurses autonomy, the ability to effect change, and a flexible work environment. Additionally, there are opportunities in informatics, research, case management, administration, recruitment, home health, and ambulatory care, among others.

As the nursing profession adapts to new challenges and technology, nurses should feel empowered to explore the endless possibilities within their profession and themselves. Despite the challenging times, nurses’ impact on safe and effective care delivery remains significant. The healthcare industry relies on nurses; their contributions are invaluable. New Hampshire needs to retain our nurses and help reignite passions in nursing to continuously improve the quality of care for our residents.

-Kerri Dutton, RN: Owner & Director of LNA Health Careers

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