Job or Joy... or Both!

by Carol Ebert Carol Ebert, MSN, RN

Specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act. Has 55 years experience.

As an entrepreneur I will admit it has not been an easy road for me in nursing. Of course I love being a nurse but when I entered the field I thought all nurses did the same kind of work.  I assumed my role would involve bedside hospital nursing, and since my mother had also been a nurse and loved it, I assumed I would feel the same way.  Little did I know, that not all nurses fall into the same category.

How did you find your passion for nursing?

Job or Joy... or Both!

And so I started my journey to uncover what my true talents were and then how could they fit into my nursing career. Here are the phases I went through to process my nursing career path.

Restless Phase

I started feeling restless about halfway thru my nursing degree program.  I started feeling like I did not have the passion that my classmates had for caring for patients, even tho I did feel great satisfaction while helping others.  I seemed to want to do things differently, or challenge the status quo. I started thinking “Is this all there is for me?  Why am I taking care of people’s problems that could have been prevented”?

In addition, I wondered if I could do something different when I graduated than what everyone else was doing.  And so I took action and found an opportunity to join a Navy recruitment program that would pay for my last 2 years of college and I would then enter the Navy as a commissioned officer taking care of casualties of war.    I thought – that sounds interesting and different!   So I did it and it was definitely a learning experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.  But after I served my 3 years I was back working at the bedside in a hospital and those old feelings arose about “Is this all there is, and why am I caring for people’s problems that could have been prevented?”

Exploration Phase

Since I had served 3 years in the military, I qualified for the GI Bill to take college classes for free.  Not wanting to pass up that opportunity, I enrolled in coursework that interested me and of course, it was all health classes.  I loved the content and excelled with all A’s (unlike my grades in nursing school where it felt like hard work all the time).  My nurse mentor at the time suggested since I was taking so many health education classes, that I should consider getting a  Master’s Degree in Health Education.  I said, “oh no – I’m not smart enough for that!”  (talk about a self-imposed false belief) She said that was a ridiculous thought and to just go for it.  So I did – and got the degree. 

Awakening Phase

The beauty of seeing health from the perspective of prevention and not treatment was not only an eye opener for me but it also showed me that I was enjoying being in that world more than being at the bedside. And so I was led into working as a school nurse where the focus was education and prevention and working with healthy kids and adults to keep them healthy.  I was starting to have fun and was finally uncovering my true passion.

Joyful Phase

Feeling like I was finally free to be my true self, I got to work creating wellness programs that got kids and adults engaged and changed their behaviors for the better.  My natural “creativity” which had not had an opportunity to be expressed, now was in full-on action. I was having fun coming up with lots of programs and strategies that helped others have fun learning about how to get healthy.  My true “health gifts” were finally being put to good use and recognized and appreciated by others.  I had finally found my joy as a nurse.  I often refer to myself as Nurse Wellness so people know that you can still be a nurse and do wellness and that is also a credible role for nurses.  We all don’t shine at the bedside, but we all have the right to be nurses and then choose our own path of passion.

Independence Phase

Now that I had found my joyful work, there was one more challenge I faced. I found myself back in the healthcare system in my role as Nurse Wellness, but the corporate roadblocks to taking action on innovative wellness ideas slowed me down tremendously.   I felt stifled in my “job” working for a boss and it took years to just get my creative ideas off and running without corporate roadblocks slowing me down.  My joy of work was fading, and I knew I needed to leave.  But leave to go where? 

As it turns out, my next natural step was to start my own wellness business as an entrepreneur where I had total freedom and could create and implement prevention and wellness programs right now without having to ask permission or wait for corporate decisions.  A very freeing feeling and experience, as I have truly reached “self-actualization.” (Abraham Mazlow would be proud!)

If you can relate to my story, and may feel frustrated with your nursing role, and not sure what to do about that, check out the links below to help sort it out. 


The Power of Being a Nurse Entrepreneur

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Inspiring Role Model for Women in their Third Act

96 Articles   207 Posts

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17 Posts



1gr8trnstudent, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in BLS, ACLS, CARDIAC, ER. 124 Posts

I definitely feel the way you do. I want to use my creativity in nursing and my love for venipuncture but I'm stuck in a role I do not enjoy.