I am often asked “Why aren’t you a nurse anymore” or people refer to the time “when you used to be a nurse”. My initial response is that “I am a nurse” and I have to admit that there may be a bit of irritation attached to my response. The more complete answer is that I am a nurse and there are multiple reasons why I am not at the bedside.
When I first attended nursing school, my intent was to be an advanced practice nurse. Once I graduated, I worked on a traditional medical-surgical floor and transitioned to the emergency/ trauma department the following year. This girl likes variety and challenges, so it was a good fit. That emergency department taught me a lot after the first year which impacted my journey to where I am now.
- Our healthcare system is trash. There are many layers to this that could be explored separately, but I will attempt to keep it relevant to the subject at hand. Working in an emergency department after working in community-based clinics illustrated the many challenges people experience associated with access, insurance coverage, treatment adherence and comprehension and so much more. It was hard to be a part of that system and feel as though you are contributing in a positive way.
- Direct care nursing is typically one-on-one. I know logically that I had a positive impact on the patients I was providing direct care for. However, it felt that I was not doing enough. Seeing people return for the same or worsened conditions felt like I was acting as a bandaid and again, part of the system that is not moving the needle.
- Nursing is a profession. Nurses are educated, dedicated, and passionate. There were many times throughout the workday when that was overlooked by patients and families and it became more about getting pillows and providing creature comforts. This is not said to discount those things as they definitely impact care. It was often implied by patients and visitors that there was an expectation that I see to those needs constantly and provide evidence-based care secondarily.
- I love public health. Having started my career in a community-based clinic, I entered healthcare from a public health standpoint. It is my first love and I feel more connected to it. I love being able to work on programs that aim to address the needs of a population versus the individual. Public health looks at the whole person and surrounding systems that affect the prevention and promotion of wellness.
- I am an operational person and I am great at what I do. This is not said to be boastful. I think we all have strengths and enjoy specific work. I am lucky to have identified my strengths and have them meet at an intersection of what I care about and enjoy doing while still using my clinical knowledge.
So, there wasn’t any particular incident that led to me pursuing a different avenue of nursing and healthcare. I still consider myself to be very much a nurse, I am now an administrator. And contrary to what some may believe, administrators are nurses and contribute valuably to the profession.