Finding where you belong

Image: Joerg Steffens | OJO Images | Getty Images

It seems to me that one of the biggest questions in nursing school is, “where do I belong?”  We’re all in search for that niche where we feel incredibly competent, intrigued, and truly motivated to work. But this week I discovered something new. I learned what it’s like to find out where I don’t belong.

So far I’ve rotated through a year of med-surg at three different hospitals, OB, and peds. I remember working through every quarter of med-surg thinking, “if I can just get through this, I can go to specialties and everything will be ok,” because I was certain that med-surg nursing was just not my thing. I envied my friends who thrived on the rehab and surgical units (and still do!), and wished that I could work and think as efficiently as they did when caring for their patients.

Just as I predicted though, when OB and peds came around I was in my zone. I loved every second of OB, enjoyed women’s health and pictured myself wanting to become a midwife. Then we started our pediatric rotation and I was sold. This was where I belonged. I loved the kids, I loved the hospital, and I loved that I finally felt like a nurse working somewhere I was meant to be. I knew it would be hard to focus on other specialties and rotations after finding where I “fit,” but I didn’t expect it to be this hard.

I just started my psychiatric nursing rotation. I just found where I don’t belong. I know there are so many factors that are playing into my experience in this rotation: wanting to be back on the peds floors, being in new territory, and not having gotten very far in our lecture on psychiatric nursing yet. But just like I had this gut feeling that I wanted to be a peds nurse, I have this gut-wrenching feeling that I don’t want to be a psych nurse. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost appreciation for all psych nurses out there – it’s just not for me. It’s a weird feeling being somewhere where, for the first time, I’m not eager to go to clinical everyday. Most of what we’re supposed to do on the unit is therapeutic communication – which is great and I’m all for it, but I just feel like there’s nothing I can do to help. Despite asking open ended questions, I’m just some random person passing the time with them – I don’t feel like a nurse. I’m telling myself, “if I can just get through this, everything will be ok.”  I know I’ve just got to do it and get through it.  And I know every experience we go through in nursing school is to help us through decisions like this, to give us a little taste of everything, and in the end it will make us better nurses. But knowing this doesn’t always make it easy.  So here’s hoping for a new (and better!) experience next week.

Nursing students: Have you found where you belong? How about where you don’t want to be? What gets you through the rest of it?

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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7 Responses to Finding where you belong

  1. Bruce

    great to hear your views – be strong, survive each day.

  2. CeeCee

    Oh my god… I totally agree about psych. I don’t think I’m the “therapeutic communication” type of person… It kinda made me feel like I’d be a bad nurse. Med-surge was good, psych was terrible, and now I’m in OB/Maternity, and I’m loving it… mostly the NICU portion.. It really enhanced my confidence in my future success in this career.

  3. Miriam Bookey

    Ani, I think anywhere you end up is going to be super lucky to have you!!

  4. Ani Burr Scrubs Blogger

    Cee Cee – I know what you mean. I am all for therapeutic communication, but we’ve been incorporating it in our care for a year and a half now! So now, having a clinical where that’s ALL we do, it’s a little nerve-wracking. I guess it makes sense in the long run, psych’s just not for me. But I don’t think that makes either of us “bad nurses,” as long as we know the importance of communication with our patients. I too loved NICU, and asked for an extra day there when I did OB, and then when peds came, I loved PICU as well, so we’ll see. Hope it all goes well for you.
    Mariam and Bruce – thanks for the encouragement 😉

  5. Laurie

    I am a recent grad and am starting to work as an LPN in a nursing home where I used to be the Activity Director. The great thing is that I know all the residents already. I was hired along with a school mate, who started a month or two after me. There are three nurses on the pm shift, and I have the major responsibility of passing the medications on one hallway. I get very little time to learn the rest of the job which is taking off orders, talking to Doctors, ect. I have been doing this now since I was hired, and really am wanting to move forward, and learn more aspects of my job. I have mentioned this to my D.O.N., however it seems I keep being put in a position where I am doing the med passes. Any advice from some nurse managers out there as to what I can do, or why I am being the “med pass queen”? The other nurse, I work with takes care of the majority of orders, charting, ect. She also goes to the other side to help the other nurse with orders, and relieves her on the second med pass. The third nurse who’s hallway has a much easier med pass and aquity level, passes her own meds the first med pass, then the nurse I work with on the other side goes over to relieve her so she can chart, , ect. I stay on my side and do both med passes which are very difficult. (30 patients) I have little time to help the nurse on my side with other tasks such as assessments, charting, ect. I feel as though it is a very important job to work with the medications, I have much to learn, but I would like to learn all aspects of my job. Am I wrong to advocate for myself here, or am I to new?

  6. Jeanyis

    “I just started my psychiatric nursing rotation. I just found where I don’t belong.”

    I’m the exact opposite of you. I was a fish out of water in OB/pedes. The times I feel most like a nurse is when I’m doing something psych-related (which is the field I would like eventually to be an NP in). Hearing someone’s story and connecting with them and providing feedback, seeing things “click” in their minds and watching them progress toward their goals is so very rewarding to be a part of.

  7. aec12060

    I’m the exact opposite.

    I originally got into nursing because I wanted to work in emergency room. I am an EMT and I love the face paced, never – knowing – what – you’re -going – to – be – doing feeling. I love trauma, and I love the quick turn around of patients as opposed to long term care where it’s the same patients day in and day out.

    That being said: during nursing school, I got a job as an LNA in a psych unit at my local hospital. My real reason for doing it was to get my foot in the door so that I could apply in the ER once I got my RN.

    I enjoyed my med surg rotation, I got to be in the ICU and the step down unit at the same hospital that I already worked in. I enjoyed my OB rotation, but it wasn’t really for me. I HATED my peds rotation. I don’t like dealing with sick kids. At all.

    Then came my psych rotation. I saved it for last. I LOVED it. I clicked with it in every way.

    Now, as a new grad, I’ve been hired as an RN on the same floor that I worked as an LNA. I’m absolutely eating it up. I still want to be in the emergency room someday very soon, hopefully in the next year (I’m only part time on the psych floor so it’s still possible!).

    So, that’s my story!