Need something different?

Last week I opened up and revealed what lots of people talk about behind closed doors with friends they trust. It doesn’t have to be a secret. There’s nothing wrong with confessing, “I looked forward to this job, this time, this place, but I just don’t love it. In fact, I don’t know if I can keep doing this.”

I’m sure people all over the world anticipate the start of something that’s supposed to be really exciting, but after a few weeks or months, the hype dies down and you’re left with dissatisfaction.

Maybe it’s time to quit or move on or talk to your boss or change careers.

But those options are a bit drastic and not possible for everyone so let’s see if we can compromise a bit and save ourselves some grief.

I asked myself this question that opened my eyes to the reality around me. I want all the ingredients to the perfect job, the perfect career right where I am. That will never happen. You can’t get all the ingredients at once. I also can’t complain unless I’m willing to be part of the solution.

So even though I really want to whine and be a baby about it, I’ve tried to suck it up and be an adult. Surprisingly, there have been a few things that have made it better.

Revisit that question from last week and think about what you really want. All we can do is fight for that until the season changes. We might as well milk all we can from this experience right here. These are some things I’ve done to varying degrees that have helped me get all I can out of this experience:

Focus on doing the simple things assigned to you with EXCELLENCE.

I have made medication errors and rushed to forgotten assigned tasks until handover. That’s the human part of being a nurse. No one is asking for perfect! However, if the job we have now isn’t using enough brain cells, we have more than enough left over to be thorough, excellent, and REALLY good at what we do. If we are finished with our work for the next hour, then we can take time to extend ourselves to our fellow nurses or to our patients. It’s embarrassing if you are caught saying the job is too easy, but you are slipping up by being careless.

Look into varied options within your department. 

When I realized there were other options for nurses on board the ship, I felt better immediately. The first few months on the AFM made me feel trapped in the wards where I felt so unhappy. Eventually I had a chat with my supervisor and knowing that there was flexibility in the future was a lifted burden. If I got really miserable, there were options to try something new. I have a tendency to stick something out for a long while without telling anyone because I’m sure improvement is just around the corner. The conversation alone lightens the load and opens doors. You know what makes me laugh? Even with all the opportunities available, I’ve still stuck on the wards. I’ve discovered that I actually love the wards best. They can drive me crazy, but they really do make me happy and feel closest to the patients.

Invest in a neglected part of yourself.

We are all multi-dimensional. We care, we anticipate needs, we think critically. We also lead and encourage our team members as constructive, supportive members of the team. We take initiative and fill gaps. We are awesome! This doesn’t have to stop outside work hours! It’s easy to invest time in foreign language study, studying the Bible the way you always wished you could, learning how to be a better public speaker (Toastmasters) or bible storyteller (Simply the Story), volunteering with the youth or with local programs. As for me, I’ve literally poured myself into my writing. I spend hours working on this blog, writing, brainstorming and networking. My current job responsibilities don’t use up all my passion so I use writing as an outlet to pour into. If you find work leaves you with extra time or energy, use that time to practice a skill that will make you more well-rounded for the next season.

Think about what you want out of your nursing career.

Do the soul-searching and self-evaluation now so that when it’s time to go, you’re not starting from scratch. It’s been easy for me to slide into patterns of thought where I dream about what will come after Mercy Ships. I think this is good, but not when it’s turning me hypocritical. If I say I want to do something in the future but I’m not doing it right now, then it’s just a glamorous intention that makes me feel good about myself.

It took awhile…

It took over a full field service (9 months) of nursing in this hospital to see the amazing clinical work we do for what it is. Yes, a lot of the care we give would fall under home care or outpatients at home. Yes, we have fewer surgeries in a day than units/wards at home. Yes, your patient assignment already has 95% of the pertinent information for the day pre-typed for you on your assignment sheet. Yes, you must notify the charge nurse anytime you want to call the doctor.

It’s a result of all those pieces put together that we get to do the work we do and have the outcomes we have. The Mercy Ships environment is thereby primed for optimal outcomes and smooth sailing in the hospital department.

After exploring different avenues of nursing while still staying close to the wards and getting that time with patients, I got to see more. My time in screening, outpatients, admissions, the wards, the dressings team, and charge nurse all put together revealed to me the magnitude of this undertaking. There’s always room for improvement, but this ship, this hospital is really doing amazing, legitimate work. It can be hard to see through the same lens for someone only here for a few months or someone who only gets to work in one department.

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