My career path in nursing has taken many twists and turns. I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse, this was the easy part. While I was in nursing school, I decided that I wanted to be a critical care nurse. After I graduated, I started working in a medical ICU. I worked in critical care for 14 years. I loved it, and I was good at it.
I had wanted to teach since nursing school when I had a particularly harsh nursing instructor. From that experience, I vowed that I would teach one day so that there would be one less mean instructor in the world. Over time I lost focus on that idea until my friend pushed me to pursue my master’s in nursing education. I applied to the master’s program and to an open position as the educator for my ICU at the same time. The last three years of my ICU career I was a unit-based educator. Unfortunately, burnout took a toll on me and I needed to leave the critical care environment. I took a job in the outpatient world, and after 2 years I knew I needed to be back in education. I went back to an inpatient educator position working with new graduate nurses. This was a great fit for me, but the work environment was toxic. A coworker was working part-time as a clinical instructor at the nursing school that I had gone to for my BSN. I had always wanted to teach at my school. I interviewed with them and was offered a position. I started working right away.
I was able to start teaching at the school with just a master’s degree, but with the understanding that I will enroll in a PhD program. I have since been accepted into a PhD in nursing ethics program. I have been at the school for a year now and am learning more and more every day. Currently, I teach a clinical for second-semester students as well as facilitate in the simulation lab. Clinicals are great, it is so awesome to see how excited the students are when they perform new tasks or finally grasp a new concept. Working in the simulation lab is allowing my teaching skills to sharpen as well. I continue to improve on my debriefing skills after each scenario. It is great when we are able to have robust discussion after a simulation. I have also had the opportunity to design new, challenging simulation scenarios for the students. I am using all of my prior experiences in my current role. I use the experiences that I had as a bedside nurse, as a supervisor in the outpatient setting and as an educator with the new graduates. All of my prior experiences have helped me in different ways in my current role.
The best part of my job is simply being a part of the education of future nurses. I felt lost for a while trying to find my place in nursing again after leaving critical care. I wanted to feel challenged but also feel that I was making a difference. I always said that I wanted to change the world, but I didn’t know how. I have found that in teaching. This opportunity is everything that I was looking for. I am able to be a positive role model for future nurses and help prepare them to care for others. It is hard work and I continue to improve with each clinical I teach, but it is worth it.
Nursing is such an amazing career because no matter what you can always find your place. It may take time, it may take a few tries, but there is something for everyone in nursing. We can all find our place and we can all make a difference.