"This blog post probably isn’t what you are expecting. By late 2011, I was struggling with and felt disconnected from my nursing career. My husband noticed – apparently, when I’m upset, I don’t hide it all that well. He asked me, “What had you become a nurse in the first place?” That question wasn’t something I was expecting, but it got me thinking.
Just after Thanksgiving in 1981, my brother died in a Michigan car crash. To this day, that’s at the source of a lot of moments of sadness and tears for me, especially around the holiday season. I remember looking for something where I could honor my brother by making a difference for others. That was why, in 1983, I registered for Practical Nursing School. I loved being a nurse, and while that lasted a long time, I can see now that life has a way of continuing to throw challenges at you. By 2012 I’d lost my connection to my profession. The result for me wasn’t pretty. I became dissatisfied, grumpier than I want to be, and this was bleeding into other areas of my life.
My husband’s question brought all this into focus. I saw that I needed to do something, and that’s when I chose to go for my GI nursing certification. I’d hesitated about this for a long time, with all the usual reasons, "Do I have the time? What about the cost – would it pay off financially in my career? What if I failed the exam?" Then I asked myself "What was the cost to my life if I didn't go after this?" The moment I paid the certification exam fee, I was committed and present to why I’d become a nurse in 1984. I was connected again to how this honored my brother, and how my life was about making a difference in people’s health. I was immediately re-energized as a nurse. Same job, same life circumstances, and a completely new, happy and gratified attitude about my career. The truth, I think, is that I became a better nurse and happier employee.
I took the exam and passed. I knew it would be smart for me to continue to take actions to honor my commitment, so I volunteered – I worked on the planning committee for the Minnesota Regional conference. Next, I ran for (and was elected to) the Regional Board of Directors, followed by officer positions, and finally national positions. Each of these steps has been a joy for me. Sure, I’m busy, but I wouldn’t trade any of the career satisfaction and connection I feel to my purpose in life for a few more hours of free time each week.
I’m going to go out on a limb. I bet many of you are like I was: not present to your purpose in life as a nurse. If that speaks to you, if you aren’t connected to how you make a profound difference for people as a nurse, then consider taking the next step in your career. For me, certification was about growing as a nurse. Volunteering was about being of service to others. I’ve found that feeling vital and energized in life has everything to do with participating in the things that truly matter to you."
Karin Cierzan, RN CGRN