What Happens When We Leave Our Dream Job?
Sometimes we find our dream. Sometimes we go for it. Sometimes life has a funny way of changing it. What do we do then?
What happens when we have to find a new dream? When we came to a fork in the road; chose our path; ran towards our destiny and hit a dead end? Nursing is career of passion and a commitment not only to ourselves but to those future faces waiting with a name and date of birth. We sample different floors and hospitals throughout our education and excitedly tell each other stories of what we saw that day. We may have started school with a specialty we’re sure of, but then it happens. We have that day; our day; our epiphany moment where we choose our path. Maybe it happens during clinical, maybe it happens long after we’ve been at the first job we’re offered. There is that moment where those are OUR patients and that is OUR specialty.
For me I was on a trauma unit for school; a far cry from the pediatric oncology unit I thought I would be on when I applied to school. My patient had crashed his motorcycle, had an MI, and a K+ of 6.8. We were bandaging his road rash while ortho discussed his broken bones and then we whisked him off to dialysis. I walked out of this step down and with wide eyes asked my instructor where these patients went when they were sicker.
From that moment on I was on the fast track to SICU. Those were my patients. That was my unit. Fast forward 8 months to multiple knee surgeries and a fleeting return to work where I couldn’t lift “My patients”. I couldn’t handle “My unit”. Obviously I could have been in far worse shape, but that wasn’t the issue at hand. Where do we go from there?
How do we start over when we were so sure of what we loved? I talked to a friend recently who was leaving her dream unit and felt an enormous sense of fear and dread. There is a guilt we feel when we switch our path. That sense that we’re giving up; abandoning the patients we once called “ours”.
In the days that followed leaving behind my dream I talked to friends and coworkers and scoured the internet looking for my new passion. Repeatedly I was told to go to the NICU. “ The patients are lighter and the cribs are higher” I was told time and again. I dug in my heels, because as trauma nurses we don’t do cute and cuddly. There was a sense that I was turning my back on my people by even seeming interested in the idea. I spent weeks toying with jobs that I had no passion for, but would allow me to sit. Something I didn’t enjoy, but would provide me the time to go to school while I figured it out; anything but working with babies.
Out of loyalty to my hospital I finally went upstairs to tour the NICU. I walked around arms crossed looking on respectfully. The first baby I saw was only 23 weeks old. As we continued to make the loop I saw hopeful parents sitting, waiting for news of an ounce gained. By the time I walked to the last decorated door, I was filled with questions for the nurse and a secret I was keeping from myself. A secret, that I may just be fully confessing now. I loved it. My head was spinning when I left.
How could I love this unit? This was the unit I had shy’d away from since I started school. Babies? Babies. I thought it would never be me. I was afraid to even hold them and yet there I was. And that’s when it hit me. I am a nurse. We are not our units. We are not our specialties. We may love them dearly, and we may thrive in one environment over another, but we are nurses first and foremost. We see people in distress, no matter how small, and we want to help. We want to fix the situation, and we want to learn. We accept the challenge and charge ahead. Our abilities are not limited to what we already know, because we were work in a field with an endless number of possibilities that we should start taking advantage of.
While this story may be a bit autobiographical, it is meant to give hope to the other die hard specialty nurses out there whose circumstances may have changed. Whether you have to leave because of family, a big move, injury, or burnout, you are not alone and there is hope. This is not the end of the road, but an opportunity. The scariest dog is always guarding the door to the biggest prize. You will still find your way, because you my friend, are a nurse.
Jun 4, '15Nice article. I'm glad you found an area that intrigues you. Awesome!
I may be looking into a new speciality after a head-on MVC has left me with some deficits that I cannot seem to resolve. I know I have tried & am still giving it everything to get back something that seems lost. Very lost.
Letting go, accepting a new reality and moving on is tough. Even for nurses.
I know the best thing about nursing can be the options. Even so, I know change can be so very difficult.
Good Luck!Last edit by Medic/Nurse on Jun 4, '15Jun 5, '15I haven't posted in a long time, but wanted to thank you for this.....it's exactly what I needed to read today. I'm still a newer nurse - I now have one year of experience as an RN. I started out in the OR, which was something I just KNEW I loved and wanted in school after a few surgery observation days. After one year......I hate it. It definitely is not the place for me, and I will be applying to other jobs this weekend. This gives me hope for moving on, and for finding work that I love/at least like enough to tolerate!Jun 5, '15I loved this Article. Right now I'm in my dream specialty. But that can change any day for any reason. Its important to have a plan b always.Jun 5, '15You're awesome! Hope that things get better soon! No matter what capacity you work in you're still a nurse!!Jun 5, '15Don't give up! You will find your way! Keep an open mind you may surprise yourself I certainly did. We never know what the future has in store!Jun 8, '15This is a great article, and I needed this. I work in community Aged Psych and I have a very strong desire to move to palliative care. I've always wanted to do pall, but chose mental health instead. I loved that quote you used "Our abilities are not limited to what we already know, because we were work in a field with an endless number of possibilities that we should start taking advantage of", because this has been my fear - being limited due to my chosen career path.
Thank you so much.Jun 8, '15Quote from midazoslamThis is a great article, and I needed this. I work in community Aged Psych and I have a very strong desire to move to palliative care. I've always wanted to do pall, but chose mental health instead. I loved that quote you used "Our abilities are not limited to what we already know, because we were work in a field with an endless number of possibilities that we should start taking advantage of", because this has been my fear - being limited due to my chosen career path.
Thank you so much.
Go for it! We only get one chance to live our lives to the fullest I also love the idea of doing palliative care one day. Such a gift to give to people!Jun 10, '15Your post has triggered a reply from me, as well. I had a job I loved. I had moved up the ranks and become the nurse manager of a program for kids with multiple medical physical emotional and psychiatric needs. It was my home. and then, new management and a layoff. To say I was devastated was an understatement. I had planned to retire from there. So, at over 50 I had to re evaluate what I wanted to do when I grew up. I am currently teaching...something I truly enjoy. I am also in the midst of my MSN in Nursing Education... something I had pretty much given up on the idea of ever doing. So there is life after your "perfect job"... and sometimes it is what you least expect! <3Jun 10, '15It is hard starting over but since life goes on one just have to do reevaluation on the situation and determine what is he next best steps. I loss my dream job and I was devastated for many reasons. The main reason was because I had just received my Masters degree and that was a big promotion for me with a huge increase in salary. Returning to floor nursing (patient care was like a demotion). Instead, I took severence pay and stayed home for a while until I found a job in Managed Care. Until today, I still lament about that job because I never found another one even similar to replaced it. Managed Care is cheap and so my salary never returned to what it was. Simply said "when one looses their dream job, it is a big loss."
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