June 18, 2018 - 365 days ago - I started working again in the hospital setting as a rapid response nurse. I had no idea that I would be back at the bedside after beginning a career in higher education and administration back in 2009, and yet I cannot begin to say how much it has helped me remember why I went into nursing in the first place and how it has helped me fall back in love with nursing.
Perhaps you aren’t aware, but I was fired in April 2018 in a way that was both surprising and yet not as I look back on that time today. If I am honest with myself, I knew it was time to go long before it happened, but I had decided to give it my best and re-engage rather than leave. Regardless, God had other plans and I suddenly found myself kicked out of my somewhat comfy surroundings on a random Thursday morning. We were supposed to be moving into a new house in the next weeks after that, but without a stable income, we chose to walk away from our escrow and not close on the house. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one I don’t regret now. It wasn’t THE house after all despite what I thought the day before I was fired. In fact, the evening before I was terminated, I was literally sitting in the new house while the Inspector did his thing.
So strange to look back and think about now. I won’t pretend that 365 days isn’t a fair amount of time, but today that feels like a complete lifetime ago. It’s strange to even think about all that has changed in that time as I reflect. Back then, I was left with picking up the pieces of my identify and moving forward. I was left very quickly wondering who I was without the identity of Dean of Nursing, and I wasn’t clear on what my new sense of identity might be. I didn’t want to leave nursing all together, but I was not sure that I wanted to continue down a path in higher education. I had already started coaching a bit as a side hustle while working full-time, and so I thought - well what if I became my own boss? What if ran my own coaching and consulting business?
I realized pretty quickly, however, that being a solopreneur wasn’t necessarily the right fit as my only thing. I enjoyed my clients, but I didn’t much feel like a nurse, and I wasn’t all that fulfilled at the end of each day. I missed patients or at least students who I had been able to connect with daily at the college. I enjoyed coaching and teaching online for myself, but I also wanted something more. I needed a deeper sense of connection. That’s when the PERFECT opportunity presented itself - per diem rapid response nurse. I didn’t even know the role existed. I had gone to a job fair thinking I would go back into a traditional staff nurse role, and then my now boss talked to me about this other opportunity - one that combined direct patient care with teaching - what a win/win for all of us.
So now - a full year later, I find myself cobbling together a full-time job wearing a variety of hats - per diem rapid response nurse, coach, educator, consultant, and even author. You may have seen my recent release in an anthology book called The Beauty of Authenticity. The content was serendipitous at this point in my journey as it is all about finding the real me and embracing her in all her glorious imperfections.
As for my prior self, before this past year, I must admit that I fell into a state of burnout more than once both while still in bedside practice in the early 2000s, but to an even greater extent when I began teaching and then again as a senior leader in a very large academic pre-licensure program. Yet, somehow in going back to my roots and reconnecting with patients, I have regained a spark and passion that I thought were dead. Had you asked me about my purpose and passion a year ago, I would not have even been able to begin to find it within me - I don’t think.
It might seem difficult to imagine how to fall back in love with something that can be more demanding and draining in a day to day sense from the outside than working in a college; however, that is exactly what I have found over the course of this last year. I find solace when I am there. I have rediscovered why I picked nursing in the first place and how much I enjoy connecting authentically and deeply with another human being. In fact, if I am having a rather challenging time outside of work, going in for a shift serves as a booster dose of energy and soul replenishment for me - no lie. We recently had a death in the family and it was rough for me. I had thought that it wouldn’t be as hard as it was more my sister’s than mine and I was there to hold space for her, but I found myself quite sad as I returned to my own routine after being home and of use for a week. However, when I went back to work for a shift at the hospital, I felt so much better. My mood lifted and I remembered what brings me joy and seems like a perfect match for my gifts - being of service to others as a bedside nurse.
Perhaps you’ve fallen out of love with nursing yourself? Perhaps you’re currently feeling like you want out or you just can’t do it anymore? I would love to connect and talk more about how you’re feeling. I would love to help you fall back in love with nursing yourself or at a minimum help you not hate going to work everyday. Baby steps are still steps after all. I won’t pretend that everything is golden all of the time, but I can honestly say that I am in such a better place today than last year.
Much Love and Light
~ Sherpa Erica 💖✨
PS. Here I am the morning of my first shift back in the hospital June 2018